The Adventure of a Second Pasture

Adventure: [ad-ven-chur]

Noun.

  1. an exciting or very unusual experience
  2. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome
  3. a commercial or financial speculation of any kind; venture

 

Back on point, the Mr. and I had come to the realization that we would need to build a second pasture for our horses pronto. With limited time, the weather hinting at winter, and our endless ‘honey-do’ list of repairs on the farmhouse…we realized we didn’t have much time to do this one ourselves. Moving forward, we enlisted the aid of a fencing company. In fact, due to the professionalism and quality finish of our last pasture, we elected to go with the same company again.

Now as previously mentioned, this pasture was being put up a year sooner than planned and sadly… budgeted. If you are looking to save a few dollars or in our case close to $500, you can elect to do all of the measurements, research the necessary materials, and pick them up yourself. We simply stored ours in an empty stall in the barn, ready for the arrival of the fencing company.

It’s really sort of amazing what a company will charge you as a convenience/labor fee just to pick up supplies five minutes down the road…

Anyways… back to the checklist!

  • Fence outline drafted and measured – check!
  • Measurements delivered to fencing company and estimate provided – check!
  • Materials for project acquired and delivered – check!
  • Start date agreed upon for project – check! …er, stop, nope, stop right there, and so we meet…our first hiccup…

In case you find yourself debating what the best time of year to install a fence is, let me tell you this much, it isn’t late fall/early winter. Though we didn’t have much of a choice as to the when, we did assume that with the colder temperatures and higher likelihood of rain, that fencing companies would have less work coming in. Wrong! We learned that it is actually a prime time for these companies and couldn’t get placed on the schedule for nearly 4 weeks out from the date we signed on with the company.

After the debacle of our first pasture, we made certain to let our fencers know that we would need to be on-site anytime they were out to work on the property. I can’t manage the implementation of a project if I’m not here. Simple? Simple! And so three weeks went by before we received a message that they’d set the corner posts for our pasture but couldn’t finish them as we hadn’t provided enough posts.

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One set of corner posts put up. Though the heights appear off, there is simply a dip down in the soil along the far right corner giving the appearance of such. It is actually level.

Momentary eye twitch of frustration. They were a week early, had not contacted us beforehand, and when I arrived home to check the work done (and see how our post calculations were off) it was a disappointing sight to be certain.

We had written out specific instructions (that were notated on our estimate) for how to lay out the corner posts and gate posts which were the following:

  • 5″ x 8′ round wood posts provided for all corner and gate posts
  • 6′ metal T-Posts provided for all remaining posts
  • One 16′ galvanized steel gate provided for southeastern end of pasture
  • One 10′ galvanized steel gate provided for northwestern end of pasture
  • All wood posts should be set 3′ underground
  • All T-Posts should be set 1′ underground
  • All posts should be separated 10′ apart with the exception of “H” brace posts to both sides of each gate post
  • “H” brace posts should be only 4′ apart with a 4′ horizontal post going across the middle for additional stability

Despite our instructions, the wood posts had been set only 18″ underground versus the requested 36″, a depth that was chosen based off USDA recommendations due to the strain a tension-based fencing system places on corner/end posts. To greatly reduce the risk of a post upheaving, concrete involved or no, 36″ is simply the go-to standard.

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From left to right: The corner post spaced 10′ apart with an unexplained 4′ gap between the next post. It seems even our Gambit was curious what was going on.
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From right to left: The 10′ spacing in between the two “H” posts is where our 10′ gate will hang, however, the “H” posts should be only 4′ wide, not 8′ wide, and all wood posts visible are only 18″ deep vs 36″. Gambit still seems confused as well.

Furthermore, we found our “H” brace posts 8′ wide instead of 4′, they had not cut the posts and thus had used four too many leaving them short-handed. We sought to contact the supervisor of the project immediately, sent photos of the work done incorrectly complete with a measuring tape included to show posts were not sunk deep enough. Hours later we received only a, ‘I’ll handle it.’

Once more, workers were sent to our farm without notice and seemed genuinely confused as to what was wrong with the way things had been set. When we re-went over the specifications with them, they informed us that they had not received any of that information or they would have dug the holes deeper. Furthermore, none seemed too savvy on digging up the concreted posts to re-set them so they instead offered to place bracing rods at an angle beneath the surface that would fasten on to the posts at ground level. While not my preferred option, it was the most time efficient and held merit, so we approved that accommodation.

As the posts were already set, there was little to be done about our now 8′ wide H brace posts. At 8′ wide versus 4′, it does not take away from the stability of the fence, it is more of a cosmetic issue and so once more, we approved leaving it as it was for the sake of progress continuing on the fence.

Sadly, it was at this point that we lost the last of the sunshine-filled fall weather and faced the off and on rain for days  as well as uncommonly cool temperatures for the south. To their credit, if it wasn’t raining, the crew members were out and working to get the remaining T-posts set so they could begin fastening the wire in place.

Day after day I went out to tend to our horses and check in on the progress of our new pasture. What was originally quoted a five day project was already well past as we found ourselves well into week two as the crew’s days and time spent at the farm varied greatly, leaving us to believe they were working on multiple sites simultaneously.

Despite the mounting frustration, by the beginning of week three the Mr. received a message that they had completed the fence. I think this is a universal feeling felt by any that have undergone home renovations or attempted them DIY-style, to hear that something has been finished, that it’s completed, is a moment of sheer euphoria. I will admit I hummed the entire car ride home in my excitement to see it.

I am also sure that to those who have gone through the arduous process of home renovations and/or DIY projects, that you have felt that joy pulled out from under you as you arrive to look over the finished project and it’s…and it’s…a hot mess.

The number of brief video clips taken that afternoon go beyond my desire to count. Only a third of our wood posts had been cut down to 5′ tall, our southeastern gate had not been hung, wire spools were left sticking out around corner posts, staples had not been properly placed, and worst of all…nearly two thirds of the fence wobbled. As in, I could gently grasp the top of the fence, shake it gently, and watch nearly one foot in either direction of the T-posts wave from side to side nearly 100′ from where I stood.

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The entire 425′ expanse of this section of the fence was leaning to one side or another, crooked, and extremely loose.

To be blunt, it was not completed as no finishing touches had been done as of yet, and as for the fence itself, it is tension based and cannot be left so loose that it has that amount ‘of play’ to it. There was zero part of our fence that was capable of being a safe habitat to contain livestock, or in this case, horses within it.

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The wire itself was bent, though they came in perfectly rolled spools, and the fence was only fastened to each T-Post by 3 clips vs the 12 clips we requested for additional support.

After very crass messages, on the verge of harassment and bullying, for us to pay for the work in full…as it was “completed” remember? We put our foot down and challenged the supervisor to come and look for themselves. Apparently, my extensive video clips and photos were enough to bring about a very brief and disingenuous apology stating that they’d been misinformed, that the workers were simply meaning they were done for that particular work day..?

Now I’m a rather understanding person but when one considers the mishaps we’d been having since day 1, it seemed extremely far-fetched. And such was the moment when I was placed in the position I hate, forced by circumstance to contact the BBB if they did not prioritize our project and complete it. Don’t forget, we were over two weeks behind the schedule they quoted us.

Suddenly the crew was re-assigned back to our property and our fence was given three days of their full attention. The trash left on our acreage was picked up and cleared away, the spokes of wire sticking out were properly cut, capped, and stapled down wrapping around end posts. Our gate was hung, the fence tightened across the entirety of the four acres and at last, it seemed we could move our horses over.

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The northern edge of the pasture after they had gone back over a second time to retighten and fasten each 10′ section. Note how much straighter the fence stands now.

Those final days either myself or the Mr. watched and oversaw the corrections made to the fence. While there is still some wobble to one particular side and curve of the fence, it is minor in comparison to its prior condition. Watching the efforts they went to to tighten it as much as they did, we agreed that without some rather heavy machinery, it was unlikely it could be made any tighter.

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A rare sunny day amidst the dreary winter weather.

As for now, the horses have enjoyed the pasture for approximately a month’s time. While the fence already shows some wear and tear, our horses respect it far less than our heavy duty CenFlex, it is serving its purpose well and has given our original pasture much MUCH needed time to recuperate.

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Remington awaiting his grain patiently in the new pasture.
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Though we were worried Finnegan wouldn’t respect the 4′ tall wire fence, he seems to be accepting it just fine. He greatly enjoys simply standing with his head resting just over the top with ease.

Though many headaches were involved in its completion, we are at least satisfied with the end result and the additional room for our animals. After all was said and done we did end up with a reasonably priced pasture as well. Materials were just under 1/2 of our cost, coming in around $1750 whereas labor was $3 per linear foot, coming in just over $3000. If our fence holds up even 5 years, it will have been worth the investment.

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Our resident senior, Sundance. He doesn’t seem to mind the change in fencing one bit, he just enjoys rolling around and otherwise doing his best to keep dusty.

Here’s to unexpected “adventures” in the world of home renovation! Have a delightfully delicious story of your own? Comment below!

Ciao!

~Christy

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