A Cowboy’s Faith: Fence construction never ending – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Fence construction never ending

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Fence will not last forever regardless of how well it’s built.”

Not much thought was given to the remark from a Greenwood County Angus breeder four decades ago.

“It’s a major cost, but every fence must be replaced at some time. A rancher can’t just keep cobbling up old fence and expect it to keep cattle in year around,” he added.

Ample spring rains and warm sunshine had native grassland growing lush. Those black cows with babies were pushing on the fence to get a nibble. Official turnout time still weeks away, the rancher couldn’t justify opening the gate too early.

With all kinds of spring ranch work to be done, considerable time was spent repairing the weak fence. Decision was made then and there as soon as those cows went to grass, a new fence would be built.

A costly and timely ordeal whether built personally or with hired labor. Few ranchers enjoy building fence, but hiring labor is often difficult too. No shortage of contractors promoting fence building service but there’s a world of difference how a fence is constructed.

All has hit home in the past couple of years. Fences that were new or nearly so when pastureland was bought many years ago have worn out.

Some of the fence wasn’t that great the day completed. Yet, there are many other reasons fences don’t last forever.

Most ranchers depend on barbed wire for fencing. Life of the fence can be influenced by corner post strength and how tight the wires are stretched. The number of wires and the distance between line posts all affect fence longevity.

More barbed wire strands pulled tighter with line posts close together increase fence life. Heavier “set posts” every few yards and “stay wires” between the barbed wires are advantageous.

Regardless when cattle start pushing the fence for greener grass, posts lean away from them. If cattle crash into the fence, despite repairs it’ll never be like new.

Wildlife will sometimes break wires when trying to get through, and intruding brushy plants rapidly deteriorate fence.

When the rancher must cut wires to get livestock back home, the fence is never the same again.

There’s lots of fence to be built.

Reminded of Numbers 22:24: “When fence bulges and falls, it must be redone to keep livestock home.”

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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