Our One Year Farm-iversary!

Hello hello, everyone!

        So… there’s no getting around it, I have been quite the absentee for months now. Things around the farm have been beyond a bit crazy and have left us working double-time in what free time we have to keep things moving smooth”ish”. While I may be a month behind in posting this I’m beyond excited to finally feel I’ve the time to blog again.

As of March 31st, we’d officially spent an entire year in our budding little farm. The amazing thing is how much has happened over the course of one lil’ ol’ year too! Looking back and considering what we’ve learned, experiencing the ups and downs, the painful realization of hindsight after heroically attempted projects, the joy of crossing something off the “to-do” list at long last… It’s been a process to say the least. And this wild ride seemed best to show rather than tell. After all, a photo says a thousand words, right?

 

It’s amazing to think that once upon a time we started out by digging over -200- holes, three feet deep and one foot across, to space out where the fence posts would sit…with the Bobcat that broke down every other hole.

Then there was the day we began setting the final row of posts on our first pasture. That blasted string would never stay taut and yet we prevailed. Seeing our horses content from my porch, morning coffee in hand, worth it.

Watching the evolution of a pile of brambles and clay dug out, filled with drainage gravel and sand before laying out our stall mats, and finally, setting up the floating stall panels. Finally, shade for our paints in the summer!

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As the needs of the land became more apparent with fall approaching and our singular pasture suffering the wrath of one too many horses upon it. And just like that, the beginnings of our second pasture.

And then when life threw us another curveball – we needed a new roof, water was quite literally dripping down the INSIDE of the walls. With a prayer and a bit of elbow grease, the farmhouse was looking better than ever!

We’d thought we’d seen and experienced our fair share of surprises. So naturally we woke up to a winter wonderland…in the deep south. Despite the challenges this posed for our horses and lack of heaters on our water troughs we managed. Plus it was gorgeous!

The new year came and with it brought the lingering chill of winter, did anyone think it would actually end this year? For the first time ever, blankets were a necessity for the horses. As always, Gambit is always ready for an epic photobomb.

Eventually hints of spring began to poke past the chilly temperatures and before we knew it, spring was FINALLY here! It felt as though our little farm came back to life and the scenery was nothing shy of spectacular.

And now as summer is on the horizon, we look back and realize that while the farm is endless work, endless surprises (not always the YES! kind either), and tiring as all get out…the sheer enjoyment we get out of this little slice we call our own paradise is worth it all.

Here’s to our first year and many many more! Cheers!

~Christy

 

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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

When the situation changes, queue the back-up plan…

Morning everyone!

It seems like only yesterday we were walking the acreage as we mapped out the locations for future horse facilities on the farm. As our horses are only stalled in inclement weather, planning out the location and size of our pastures was our first priority.

I am delighted to report that we have been positively ecstatic about our CenFlex pasture that was completed mid-summer last year. It has proven itself a very reliable and horse-friendly material. But in retrospect I have found only one fault, its size.

Let us consider this from another viewpoint: Cause & Effect.

By permitting too many horses to be kept on a pasture that was not large enough to accommodate them (cause), I found myself facing off against overgrazing of the pasture whilst hemorrhaging funds to supply additional feed to balance out dietary needs of the horses (effect).

Now then, how did my Type-1 OCD self go from carefully planning out every conceivable detail from day one to now feeling the nagging pressure of having a secondary pasture installed as soon as possible …a year ahead of our budgeted schedule?

Such is an excellent question with an imperfect answer.

It began with taking on a fourth horse in which, given her physical condition, I simply couldn’t walk away without bringing her home. Eighteen hours later this seemingly emaciated mare, with ribs so prominent it was hard to look, foaled a beautiful little filly that was by some sort of miracle – perfect – .

Life is far more bizarre and fantastical than fiction at times.

So from three horses, in which our pasture was adequately sized, we had gone to four and suddenly five in the course of 24 hours give or take. And as life tends to trend towards the realm of unexpected, not soon after I found out a friend’s horse was in an unfavorable boarding situation where the “facilities” available were run-down and damaged. To make matters even better, he was bullied off of the communal round bale leaving him rather thin. Naturally, I offered to have her horse brought to our farm. (To that respect, I’ve not doubted the decision once. Watching him fill back out, his personality return, and him become relaxed once more has been worth it!)  However, herein lies our problem because Houston, we’ve now reached six. Double the number I’d anticipated when planning everything out.

Now I have been asked why having six horses versus four  on our pasture is an issue. I will happily elaborate on that question now:

The basic rule of thumb is that when pasturing a horse, you will need a minimum of 2 acres per horse in order to provide enough forage to meet their dietary needs. Now you can have a minimum of only 1 acre per horse IF you supplement hay and grain to their diet.

Now fair is fair. By that logic I should have ideally had no more than 2 horses on 4 acres however, though we had 3 initially on a 4 acres, I have been supplementing hay and grain twice a day to meet dietary needs. So while not perfect, it would be adequate until our next pasture was installed (originally scheduled fall of 2018).

So when one considers that 4 horses on a 4-acre pasture would be the maximum (with additional feed supplementation) and we have 6 horses on 4 acres, you can see where problems might arise.

Ironically, a pasture can become “stressed” due to overgrazing. Horses have a knack for avoiding weeds and nibbling just those precious stalks of grass, going so far as to tear the root from the soil at times. As I neither wanted to increase fructan levels nor have a 4-acre parcel of dirt, being able to rotate pastures moved to the top of our priority list.

As this was going to happen outside of our budgeted time frame, I was forced to consider alternative fencing options to my preferred CenFlex. I know that some folks will argue for days that barbed wire is perfectly suitable and I have heard the same for electric fences, to keep it simple, I’ve had issues with both in the past while boarding our horses and those are experiences I’d be just fine never repeating.

With that in mind and knowing CenFlex was leaps and bounds outside our current funds, we elected for a mesh-styled ‘no climb’ wire fence with a polymer coating along the top of each spool. I am entirely the person that said I’d never have wire anything on my property but necessity outweighed personal preference in this case.

We knew the location, size, shape, and materials we were going to use for the fence…the next step was getting set up with a fencing company and having it installed. To think the fun hadn’t even begun yet…

Stay tuned,

~Christy

Horse Fencing 101: Not Another Horse Fencing Post

Afternoon all!

I think the title pretty much sums this one just right on up. Yet another…horse -fencing- post. *dramatic music ensues*

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We opted for 5″ CenFlex horse fencing with CA (Copper Azole) treated lumber.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I am happy to report that our fence is FINALLY finished. Let me just get that out of my system one more time, I repeat, our fence…is FINALLY FINISHED!!! Where is a rooftop that I can shout this from? …that isn’t ours, as I am PRETTY confident that is the next thing on our ol’ farmhouse that’s going to kick the bucket.

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The northwestern corner of our pasture leading to the barn.

ANYWAYS… after two months, twenty-three days, sixteen hours, and give or take forty-five minutes or so…our pasture fence is done. How best to express the joy the Mr. and I felt in that moment? It was champagne toasting type worthy, if we were not scrounging pennies, and if I drank…but still! It was a glorious moment of realization, driving home that day to find the fence crew gone and our pasture in all of its splendor just waiting for horses to settle within its borders.

There is an old saying amongst folks that own horses and it goes as follows: “If you want to make a small fortune in the horse industry…start with a large one.”

My bleeding savings account endorses that belief wholeheartedly.

Why? Despite careful planning and placing a ridiculously high “in case of: X” fund aside, for all the little hiccups one -always- runs into whilst doing any sort of DIY / home renovation project, we went over budget (understatement of the year) …and then some, not to mention we were a month and a half behind schedule.

Regardless, the finished project was worth all of the headaches, sleepless nights, budget constraints, and overall stress (Is that a gray hair?). From the moment our horses were brought home, they settled in without any fuss, choosing to enjoy the Bermuda grass rather than explore or kick up their heels.

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From left to right, Gambit and Finnegan.

Our geldings have never felt more comfortable as we often find them laying on their side napping during the day. My rescued Standardbred, Remington, who suffers from anxiety and is extremely skittish, lounges about day after day and whinnies in excitement whenever anyone approaches the pasture.

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Lilah and our miracle foal, lil’ Ember.

Lilah, our rescued Quarter Horse mare, was pacing in place on the trailer in anticipation as we went to unfasten her lead rope. She forget her filly, Ember, as she tugged me along to their separate temporary pasture in our 60′ round pen. Lil’ Ember chasing after mom was a spectacle all in itself.

Like I said, for all of the heartache and hardship, having our horses home at last…worth every moment.

~Christy

Horse Fencing 101: SCIENCE …errr PROGRESS!!!

Morning y’all, don’t mind me … between what feels like two-full time jobs and 5-7 hours a day in the harsh sticky heat of the South I find myself jiving my inner Bill Nye the Science Guy.

It’s been a couple weeks since I last posted photos of the project’s progression from gently rolling weed-filled acres to a proper horse pasture. Now I’ll be straight with you, since I’ve still only access to our battery operated …you heard that right… push mower, it is still very much weed-filled acres, even higher than when we started however. (Lookin’ at you, rain!) BUT…all four sides have every third post set and concreted in place, all the corners posts are concreted in as well as our pasture access gate posts.

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Posts going down to the edge of the southeastern side of the pasture.

Now before I get too excited, as pictures can be quite deceiving, for maximum strength and lowest strain placed upon each individual post, we elected to space our posts 10′ apart. So right now, every 30′ there is a post. So it looks like we’re ready to attach fasteners and start unrolling the CenFlex but alas… I’ve still a solid 60 posts to set and backfill with our gravel/sand mixture.

Now that…THAT in itself is the right bugger of this project. On average once loaded up with backfill our wheelbarrow weighs about 50-60lbs. Hauling this up and down a 4 acre hill is a terrifyingly spectacular thing to witness…at least when I’m the one doing it. A few trips ‘down’ and I start envisioning myself just tipping over or the wheelbarrow tire going flat. A dozen trips ‘down’ and I start to imagine sitting on top and magically riding it down and squealing to a stop just before the post hole. Like I said, I spend a lot of time in the sun doing a simple but very tedious task over and over and over. Your mind starts to wander.

…to be continued.

Fencing 101: Real Talk

In every DIY project you undertake, no matter how big or small the job is, there will always be a pivotal moment in which you ask yourself, “Am I still glad we chose to do this or am I filled with regret?” Now generally speaking, I’m a ‘you can’t cut the wind from my sails’ kind of gal but let’s just say that the previous gust propelling us through this project has dwindled to a passing breeze.

Now I can assure you that these long labor-intensive hours spent beneath an unforgiving sun haven’t curbed my enthusiasm, even seven weeks in. Why? Because this equestrian CANNOT wait to have her horses home and grazing in her front pasture. I envision watching them enjoying a summer morning as I’m looking out my kitchen window. That vision, …that alone… has kept me moving forward through every conceivable problem that can happen when trying to muster manpower, funds, time, and energy to put in 4 acres of pasture fencing.

So what did it? What has me so deflated?

Our friend that we hired to help us? …well he had to quit today. His new job is going to lessen his availability and while we are thrilled for him and this new opportunity it unfortunately has left myself and the Mr. holding the bag when we’ve SO MUCH work to do and two weeks left till the horses come home.

What’s a girl to do? Well, this particular girl wasn’t having it. I’m not a quitter, never have been and I don’t intend to start now. So instead of wasting time moping and stressing, which solves every problem (said no one ever) am I right? I grabbed the shovel and wheelbarrow and started shoveling backfill gravel like a woman possessed.

Five hours under that sun, a bad glove-edge tan line, and bug bites from here to New Zealand (hi kangaroos!) I have another 11 posts set in concrete and 10 more, that were set yesterday, backfilled with gravel and sand.

That’s right, this gal has ALL of the concreted posts -done-. Now…we still have another 60 or so posts to set with gravel and sand BUT…just let me have this little triumph born from sheer Irish stubbornness.

Now if you would please pardon me, I’m going to go collapse on the sofa for a ‘Netflix and chill’ kind of evening.

Until next time!

~Christy

Horse Fencing 101: Pasture Fencing at its Finest

“I dreamed a dream of time gone by, when hope was high and …” Wait, this isn’t Les Miserables. (Could be? Possibly… I hope not.)

Right then, so I had my fingers crossed that our fence post holes would be dug, posts set,  and… dare I say, fence up and ready for our horses by Friday. (And by Friday, I mean Friday two days ago…)

Well! I can say that all of our post holes have been dug, despite the adamantium strength clay-soil we have. The one drawback? Well rather, the main drawback is that we completed that yesterday. The day after I was hoping to have the entirety of the fence done.

All things considered, I’m the silver lining type and the fact that I managed to tear down 5 acres worth of barbed wire fencing that we inherited with the property…and only nicked myself in one teensy tiny place on my arm, GREAT SUCCESS!

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Removing rusted barbed wire and recoiling it is the worst but barbed wire kabobs were fun to create!

The Mr. and our friend worked tirelessly in the sticky humid heat of the south. So…while I’ve extended boarding our horses another week or two, an expense we would’ve rather avoided, we are finally ready to get this fence movin’!

Our posts were a week behind schedule but when you reach this point in a project (T minus 30 days anyone?) you find that you become far more tolerant of the speed-bumps because the joy you feel at them arriving outweighs the previous weeks of frustration. And can I just add, they were worth the wait! Eco-friendly treated wood posts in all of their overpriced but delightful glory!

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We chose CA-Preserve or the Copper Azole treatment for our posts. This was to ensure durability and longevity as well as horse-friendly and well-water safe.

And now that you’ve seen them too I already know what you’re thinking. That’s it? These are the posts that dreams are made of? But Christy…it’s just wood 4×4’s…I mean really, let it go. They’re JUST 4×4’s. Not for nothing, I get it, I do…but it’s not taking the wind from -these- sails, oh no! I’m still really excited. Like…ran out and began cutting the straps to begin carrying posts to lay next to their respective post holes, kind of excited.

If that didn’t convince you, running about wildly in 90+ degree weather with the humidity above 85%… -THAT- my darlings is excitement!

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SnapChat happened when I drove home and spotted them. #sorrynotsorry

So what’s the next step? I foresee concrete, gravel, and sand in my immediate future as we set all of these posts in place. The plan WAS to set the end posts and gate’s posts today to give our concrete 3 days to set fully but…thunderstorms have halted progress for the time being.

After non-stop work around the farm to begin whipping it back into shape from its vacant status over the past few years, I am entirely alright with a day spent relaxing to the sound of the rain.

Cheers to progress!

Horse Fencing 101: Post Hole Digging Edition

Do you ever find yourself looking over the “how-to’s” of a project only to watch everything that can go wrong, do so, once you’ve already thrown yourself into the heart of it?

Well my friends, that’s what this continuing experience has become…the seemingly “easy” part of the fence construction process that was estimated to take us a few days, give or take, working a few hours a day on digging holes.

Must not laugh, must not laugh, all work and no play make Christy a … no, too far.

Back on point! So! Twenty-three days later (Whose counting?) I have two-thirds of my post holes dug and our horses arriving to the farm in six days (Seriously NOT counting, …honest!). Being that this is the south…and spring…one might assume the weather became an issue. You would be wrong, so very -very- wrong.

The miser- …adventure*** began here…

Not afraid of rolling up our sleeves, we enlisted the help of a friend who works in construction. His knowledge and access to equipment and proper usage have been HUGE time-savers. (Note: We did consider renting equipment at first but then I remembered I will somehow always find a ditch and drive right into it. Enough said.) I wanted 3′ deep post holes dug that were at least 8″ wide so he chose a Bobcat with an auger attachment and brought it over.

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Progress! Eeek!!!
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Meet the auger!

It started out simple enough, Bobcats are so compact and easy to maneuver in the field that he and the Mr. had two sides of the pasture holes dug in a day. I was one happy little farmer. Now the acreage had begun to look as though a gopher with insane accuracy had taken up lodging but I knew it was only temporary. No biggie, right? Wrong again. Just so wrong…

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Holes for days…

The next time our friend was able to come out, we managed a total of five post holes before the Bobcat broke down. Now I’ve come to learn a bit of lingo from the menfolk and it seems there are varying levels of ‘broken down’. There’s “ah hell”, translation – this could be a minute, or the popular “C’mon man!”, translation – prepare to get your hands dirty, and of course “No no no…you best cut back on! …sonuva…!”, translation – just chunk it, it’s dead Fred!

This is when I learned we were in a, ‘…sonuva!’, kind of situation. The auger wasn’t moving…my drill had stopped while submerged three feet into the soil. Reason? A belt had broken. Being late into the afternoon on a weekend there was no hope of getting a replacement and the following day was Easter Sunday. …crap.

Fast forward another week and our friend returned with a few more friends to swap out the belt. Success! We could get back on track at last…only two weeks till horses were coming home after all. The Mr. and our friend got to work and managed another ten holes before fluid started spewing all over the place and soaking into my soil. A hose had broken and the only option was to get another replacement part. I wish I could tell you that he got the part, replaced it, and we were back on track but I would be lying…but hey, at least I didn’t trip in one of these suckers right?

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Over the next week and a half he went out and found a replacement three different times. The first time, he bought the part that was not broken and so was returned. The second time, the store sold him the wrong part. At present we are on round three, where he has taken the defective part with him to make certain the store sends him back with the right one. To say that I’m frustrated is an understatement. He’s been a complete trooper throughout the entire process and the Mr. has helped however he can.

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Will my pasture ever have fence posts to fill these in?!

Now…will my fence be up and ready by Friday so I can pick up my horses from where they’re currently stabled? Heck, will our post holes even be dug by Friday let alone the fence up? Doubtful…but I’m going to be optimistic.

When faced with adversity, it’s really the only hand you have to play!

…to be continued.

 

Horse Fencing 101: Post Edition

Hello again! Whose ready to talk fence posts? I can feel your excitement already…I mean after all, who WOULDN’T get jazzed up over such a sensational topic! Right?

But seriously, after the hassle of deciding which type of fencing material would be best for our needs and the safety of our horses we were left with the realization that fencing materials did not come with the inclusion of fence posts. Naturally, after a few minutes of, “But why though?!”, it made perfect sense yet those few minutes were quite a sad realization.

Never one to turn down a challenge, the research began again. I don’t know if it’s possible but IF it is, I may have actually tired out the Google ‘search’ option. Now we had the option to go with metal T-Posts, Vinyl, or Wood posts to serve as the framework for our new CenFlex fence. Once again, I placed my primary need on strength and durability. as I didn’t want to have to do this again ANYTIME in the near future. Installing fence posts is a MAJOR undertaking and terribly tedious process…but I digress! Metal posts are incompatible with the particular type of Centaur fencing we chose as well as vinyl which brings us to our remaining option – wood -.

Now it IS strong and depending on the species or the treatment used can be exceptionally durable. What isn’t to love? Well… it IS the most expensive option and no one treatment type is created equal.

You have two options:

  1. Natural – Osage Orange, White Oak, Redwood, or Red Oak are the best native species in the U.S. that require no chemical or pressurized treatment. I’ve listed them in order beginning with the most superior to rot, insect, mildew, and mold resistance.

Pro: No treatment necessary, each species natural resistances can offer from 15-40+ years of life before replacing.

Con: Hard to come by, expensive, and you will lose the uniform look of your fence as most are cut ‘roughly’.

2. Chemical – You have your choice of more Eco-Friendly options that are formed from water-based treatments such as CA-Preserve (Copper Azole) or more cost-effective options are that oil-based such as Creosote, CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate), or Pentachlorophenol.

Pro: Much more cost effective than naturally resistant wood species and with certain treatments can last from 3-15 years.

Con: All chemical treatment types carry a measure of risk via handling, disposal, and how they affect the environment. Certain treatments are not suitable for residential and agricultural use -at all-.

Let me tell you, Osage Orange is near impossible to find. It’s like a wild goose chase in which you need to prepare yourself for endless circles with no answers, anywhere. I sought out white oak next. Lumber yards would not return my messages, forum posts looking for sellers went unanswered…it was a dark time in my research process. Eventually I had to consider that our only feasible option in our time crunch, would be going the chemically treated route. I feel I could write a small novel on the do’s and don’t’s of “treated wood” and its proper usages but I will spare you the essay and apply what was relevant to our situation:

Our farm is set up on well water and is used to not only irrigate the land but is our drinking and bathing water as well. When choosing a treatment for our posts I had to be certain that it would not ‘ooze’ over time (think sap dripping from tree bark) and pool about the base of our post, contaminated the soil and poisoning our horses. While ours are not cribbers or wood chewers, I had to consider the possibility they might try at some point and so the toxicity level, if ingested, came under consideration as well. Lastly, I had to be 100% certain that it would not risk the integrity of our underground fresh water source that we all count on.

That left one feasible option, which I also called and spoke with our county agricultural official on just to be safe, which was CA-Preserve or the Copper Azole treatment.

Please keep in mind, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is constantly running new studies and tests on the efficiency and safety of various treatments. For example, twenty years ago Creosote was a widely accepted form of treatment based primarily around coal tar extracts, now it has been banned in nearly half of the U.S. As of right now, CA-Preserve is considered to be one of the most eco-friendly treatments available.

Once again I find myself saying, ‘You get what you paid for.’ The posts treated with CA-Preserve were over double that of any other treatment available but… not willing to risk our water source or run the potential of poisoning our soil (and consequently the acreage the horses graze on) we trimmed our budget elsewhere and went for this treatment.

Some basic rules to follow when looking to install posts for a horse fence:

  1. Ideal post size/length: 4x4x8.
  2. For proper strength you should have a minimum of 4″ posts though 5″ is preferable and 6″ is recommended for any corners and posts surrounding gates.
  3. Your fence should be at least 5′ tall above ground and 3′ below ground for a total of 8′.
  4. Posts should ideally be no more than 12′ apart. We went with 10′ for our fence. (The closer together, the stronger the fence.)
  5. All end posts and posts surrounding gates should be set in concrete for stability.
  6. If possible, every third post should have 2 feet of packed soil, 6″ of concrete, and 6″ of packed soil on top.
  7. All other posts should be packed down tightly with soil.

I hope this helped some! Now to patiently await our lumber delivery… I can be patient, I hope…

Cheers!

Horse Fencing 101: Choosing the Right Fence

As you all know, the Mr. and I left our cozy suburban lifestyle behind when the chance to own our very own farmhouse became a viable choice for us.

Now then, first things first… we have acres of rolling pasture surrounding our home but only semi cross-fenced sections with barbed wire and wobbly splintered posts. Yeah, …not going to work for my horses.

So… while I could spend the day complaining about the serious hazards of barbed wire fencing and animals, let’s just leave it at I do not like it and do not permit it to be -anywhere- on my property…at all. That being said, it was time to look over our options and devise a plan. Generally speaking you need a minimum of 1 acre per horse if you keep them in a pasture setting, in an ideal world you would have at least 2 acres per horse.

Fun fact: One horse will eat approximately 100lbs of forage per day.

Onto the fun part, we have four horses at present but as I also supplement their diet with hay and grain, in addition to pasture grazing, for the time being we’ve elected to fence off 4 acres total. In a few years when we’ve had a chance to put away some funds towards expanding the pasture, I would like to fence the 4 acres alongside the current pasture to allow for rotating them seasonally to give our grass a break.

When it comes to fencing you will find pros and cons with each different type.

The Primary 4:

  • Wood
  • Vinyl
  • Wire
  • Electric Tape/Wire

The Brief Rundown…

Wood is both sturdy and attractive to look at but unfriendly towards your pocket book. It also requires the most upkeep and is the most labor-intensive to install. Vinyl will give you that picture perfect look all year round with minimum upkeep but is easily broken by excessive strain especially if you have large fence leaners like our boys! Wire is practical on cost, installation, and upkeep but be forewarned, if fencing in horses I would steer VERY VERY clear of this pitfall. The cost in potential, and I really mean eventual, vet bills will quickly exceed the initial savings on materials. Electric tape along smooth wire is a less invasive version of your barbed wire fence but still comes with a variety of potential dangers. It is also easier on the pocket book but there is that age old saying, ‘You get what you paid for.’

Our needs were very clear. I needed strength and durability, something that would last me at least 10-15 years ideally, that was also horse friendly, NON-wire, budget friendly (if possible!), and as we live in the south, something that could withstand constant temperature fluctuations and endless humidity. …oh yeah, and every pest known to mankind. That to…

My research led me to CenFlex 5″, a Centaur Fencing product. CenFlex 5″ is comprised of 3 steel cables all coated in polymer and then suspended evenly within a polymer-coated sheath to give the appearance of a wood panel. The difference? Equal strength to wood fencing, if not better, and then there is its flexibility, as well as wood/rot/mildew/mold/weather resistant. You never need to paint/stain it, horses will not chew it, and pests won’t bother it! And yes, it actually gets better… it is lightweight and only requires tightening on corner posts once a year. Top that with a 30 year limited lifetime warranty and we were sold.

CenFlex Black Fencing
An example of CenFlex installed. We also chose the ‘Classic Black’ for our farm.

All of my fears of a slat breaking and impaling a horse, splinters breaking off, wire tangling about a leg, horses beginning to crib and/or chew my fence, pests destroying the integrity of a plank, constantly repairing or replacing damaged planks…gone, poof! Just like that.

Now remember I did mention, you get what you paid for. I would place CenFlex beneath wood fencing on cost but only just and I will admit… it is quite a deal more upfront than wire, electric, or vinyl options. After weighing our options, we decided the additional up front cost greatly outweighed the long-term investment of repairs and routine maintenance to a wood fence.

Update: After patiently waiting, our CenFlex arrived today. We won’t talk about the fact my post holes aren’t all dug yet or the fact the treated posts we chose for our fence haven’t been shipped from the lumber yard. For now…I’m just going to revel in the excitement that the fence materials themselves are here.