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Beautiful, Rustic Dog Fence

8/10/2011 8:02:57 AM

Tags: Do It Yourself, Modern Homesteading, Sustainable Farming, Dogs, Fencing, Karen Keb

rustic fence1Earlier this year, Hank and I suffered a painful blow … our beloved Cairn Terrier, Pearl, was hit by a car and killed. I wrote about what I had learned as a result of that experience, and what I would have done differently here.

So, this summer we set out to build a yard where our two little terriers, Molly and George, could romp and play outside yet be contained and safe. It’s hard to control terriers no matter what kind of mechanism you install, but a sturdy fence (and obedience training for Molly last spring) is a start. (George is 6 months old now, so he’ll get his training this fall.)

We began the dog-fence project by negotiating how large the yard should be; of course I wanted a really large footprint that allowed the dogs to hunt squirrels under the cedar trees, but Hank wanted to still be able to drive the tractor around the front of the house. I agreed that was important, so we settled on a plan. Next, we set out to one of our woodlots to harvest some materials. We cut down scores of Osage Orange trees of the right size (anywhere from 3 to 6 inches in diameter), loaded them in back of a truck and hauled them up to the yard site. (Based on the cost of posts at farm stores, we saved about $300 by harvesting them ourselves from the farm.) We bought 4-foot no-climb wire mesh (the kind that has to be stretched) at our local farm store because we didn’t want the dogs to be able to dig underneath it, and we wanted to be able to contain our two Border Collies in there as well.    

rustic gate 

We called 811 to determine if our intended fence line would interfere with any buried utilities; it didn’t so we proceeded.

Using a tractor-mounted post-hole digger, Hank installed all the posts over two days—two very hot days where the temperatures were around 100 degrees. Then he created lovely, arched end braces; the natural arch of the Osage Orange sort of renders the fence artistic in a way. Then he pulled the wire mesh tight with a wire stretcher using the tractor as an anchor point and stapled it to the posts. Once all the fence wire was in place, we installed two lengths of cattle panel where the gates would eventually go and called it a weekend.

The following weekend, we went back out to find material for gates. Hank cut down some tiny saplings and split them using a froe to make a lovely gate—which serves as my “mail gate”—leading straight to the mail box on the road. There is another wider gate around the east side for a lawn tractor to fit through, that we’ll build next weekend.   

The end result is a beautiful, rustic fence that graces our front yard. To me, it just looks like a bunch of trees rather than a fence. It’s organic, and resourcefully sustainable—so much better than something plastic.

I love to sit in the new yard and read, under the trees, with the dogs safely confined. Thank you to my loving and capable husband for peace of mind!    


rustic fence2 



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Karen Keb
12/13/2011 10:11:12 PM
Craiginoxford: The beauty of Osage orange is that a good post, untreated, will last for 50 years or so. It is extremely hardwood and rot resistant. In Kansas and other midwestern states, it's the preferred fencing material.

Michelle Gates
10/1/2011 3:14:54 PM
This is a beautiful fence.

9/7/2011 12:44:52 PM
first... I am jeluse that you have or had the trees to be able to cut and use for this fence.Then the fact that its Osage Orange... (I do some wood turning and it is a beautiful wood for pens and bowls) is great! I have a few questions.first, do you guys actually grow trees to harvest and sell? and what steps if any, did you take to protect the fence pols from rotting and insects? I have alot of good post wood around here, pine, oak, maple, ash, Hickory... I can even just buy some cedar posts at about $5.00 each but, Im afraid the termites and carpenter ants will destroy them or the rain and snow will rot them out.

8/29/2011 2:24:05 PM
Ben -- On the fence braces,I used 1/2-inch diameter rebar because we have a mess of it around. Used a ships auger to bore the holes. Should have used galvanized pins, I suppose, but I would have had to shell out more $$. It would be very cool to have cut tenons and bored round mortices. I might try that on a future project. On the gate, I cut roughly 1/2-inch by 2-inch through mortises on the standards and trimmed the ends of the rails to fit using a hatchet and adze. Once inserted, I used 6 penny nails to secure the joints. Hope that helps some.

Ben Barrowes
8/24/2011 8:37:37 PM
You didn't mention how you connected the wood parts of the fence together. It looks like round mortice and tenon. Is that right?

Deb Percival
8/12/2011 11:52:36 AM

Natalie Morris
8/10/2011 11:47:29 AM
Looks beautiful!

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