Beautiful, Rustic Dog Fence

Reader Contribution by Karen Keb
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Earlier 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.

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!

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