Some of the fence in the calving field was 80 years old and in pretty bad shape. The wire was so rusted and brittle that it could barely be spliced and tightened, and many of the posts were rotted off in the ground.
We got the most of it completed last fall, and I’ve had all winter for the finishing touches. This week I built the last two wire gates to seal in an adjoining field. My technique was acquired nearly 40 years ago while building fence for a pair of finicky ranchers in the Bear Paws, and has proven quite effective over the years. Rather than hang a bunch of clubs on the gate, I was taught to twist in some stays that are much lighter and more effective.
The typical ranch fence is thrown together in farmer fashion, which causes the opener-person to cuss every time he goes through. (This is the reason there is always a mad scramble to avoid the shotgun position whenever a pickup is started on a ranch.)
I also finished setting new posts in the calving shed this week. Like the fenceposts, many of the support posts in the shed are rotting off, and I replace them as necessary. I used the backhoe to lift the sag out of the rafters as I notched the new posts in.
I sometimes wonder at the economics of this shed, which is only used during two months out of the year. I’ve certainly calved thousands of head out on the prairie, with only brush for protection. I spent considerable time and money on the shed a couple of years ago when a big section of the tin roof blew away.
But it is certainly nice to have when it is storming, and when you have a calf to pull. And since it is here, I’ll keep it standing – besides, it would be a lot more work to clean up the mess if I let it fall down.