More on How to Mend a Barbed Wire Fence

Sandra Finan provides feedback to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 33 article "How to Mend a Barbed Wire Fence", and offers additional tips on building and repairing barbed wire fences.

| September/October 1975

  • Barbed wire fences
    Building fences and repairing them really isn't difficult. Just follow a few simple rules and take the time to do a good job.

  • Barbed wire fences

For over 50 years I've been building and repairing barbed wire fences. I started as a young child just big enough to hand my dad staples and tools . . . and I'm still at it. Most of my fencing has been done alone, often from scratch, with very old salvaged posts and wire and I've never found such work to be difficult. All you need is time and patience, the information given by Sharon McAllister in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 33 . . . and a few additional tips I'd like to pass on.

More Tips on How to Mend a Barbed Wire Fence

[1] First, about replacement of posts: Often an upright is broken off near the top, who the bottom is still sound. In that case a new length of wood can be wired or nailed to the old, or — if the stub is too short — partly buried in the ground. You'll frequently see this done on power or phone lines.

[2] I must emphasize that it's very wrong to set a replacement post into the same hole from which you've removed a rotten one. Bits of rot will remain in the ground and will soon start decay in the new wood. It's far better to dig a clean hole in a spot about a foot to either side of the original site.

[3] To remove a post from a hole (if the upright is long enough and strong enough to stand this kind of handling), dig out a good amount of earth three-quarters of the way around the base and rock the timber back and forth to loosen it. Then embed the pointed end of a long pick in the wood near the bottom of the post, rest the tool's head on solid ground, and pull back on the handle. Or dig out and rock the upright as described, loop a chain around the bottom of the post and then around one end of a fulcrum timber, lay the latter over an upright heavy block, and push down on the other end. Either method will save your back and temper.

If it's a round iron post you want to uproot, loosen it in the usual way and then try to rotate it. This often works like a charm. The same is true of round iron stakes — usually old axles — which are used to fasten down tents and buildings or to stake out animals . . . or which serve as deadmen (anchors for brace wires) at fence comers and the ends of clotheslines and plant supports.

[4] Deadmen, incidentally, are often simpler to make than braces and can tighten up a sagging fence or whatever very quickly and easily. The anchor itself can consist of a huge rock . . . or you can drive or set a post in the ground at a sharp angle, pointing away from the end post of the fence which is to be strengthened. If that arrangement locates the deadman on a neighbor's property or in a road, simply install the support a couple of posts up the line.

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