A Cowboy’s Faith: Teenager projects serving today

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.

“A strong gate is essential to keep the horses in.”

Oh, sometimes a single wire or makeshift floorboard panel will do the job. Still, generally to keep “hay-burners” confined requires dependable fencing, yet convenient way for cowboy and mount in and out.

Five steel gates constructed 50 years ago with pipe and welding rod still serve that purpose well.

Grocery carryout boy-wannabe cowboy finished the freshman agriculture fill-in blank notebook fast. That was requirement to get into the shop to learn how to weld. Welding rod stuck to the steel, burned holes in jeans, stinging eyes from the rays, blisters received touching hot metal.

Nonetheless, skill gained such that test welds sometimes outscored farm kids who were supposed to already know how.

Vocational agriculture then was a two-hour class for sophomores. A personal project had to be constructed, or work on FFA road signs and hog feeding floor.

Old wire and makeshift wooden dilapidated gates were almost same as none, so efforts were directed to building steel replacements.

Measurement was taken of the first big hole in the fence and construction began. Inch-and-a-quarter pipe from the school pile was power sawed to appropriate lengths.

Upper-downer pieces were ground so top and bottom pipes would fit into them for convenient welding and strength. Five-eighth-inch sucker rods were pounded to bend and fit at 45-degree angles from end pipes to center piece as braces.

Two pieces of three-quarter-inch pipe were welded on one end to serve as hinge with L-bolts in the corner post. Steel caps were welded over open pipe ends, and all welds were ground smooth to enhance appearance.

Steel woven wire exact length of gate was purchased at Rumsey & White Hardware Store on the way to school. Strands were individually wired to one end pipe. Opposite end of the wire went around an additional pipe with three-eighth-inch bolts tightening the woven wire across gate opening.

Project got a blue ribbon at the county fair, and is still in use, with a heavier cattle panel replacing the original wire.

Actually, four more gates, with a few adjustments for improvement, were also made to rate the FFA chapter farm mechanics medal.

Reminds of Joshua 8:30: “He built it following the instructions of the teacher.” Then, John 15:3: “It has greater strength and usefulness than before.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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