How to Mend a Barbed Wire Fence

Sharon McAllister provides a guide with instructions on how to repair barbed wire fencing.

| May/June 1975

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" That's been our basic motto, and usually it provides a pretty workable philosophy. Even the best job is not necessarily permanent, though, and after 50 years or so even a well-built barbed wire fence may need to be repaired.

One approach is to build a completely new fence alongside the old one, preferably before the first completely gives way. This may sound obvious, "right", and permanent, but it may not be the most practical method of going about the job. A fence, you see, usually gives way at its weakest point, but even after it starts to go down — may still have many very serviceable portions remaining.

These good sections can be salvaged with relative ease, while only the broken parts must be replaced. (Note the use of the word relative. It means that fence repair is easier than laying cement blocks, for example. It also means that an afternoon nap is easier than mending a fence.)

The best time to repair a barbed wire fence is just before it goes down. Sure, trying to work in the existing fence row is difficult . . . but you'll at least be able to choose the hours you want to put in on the chore. Once the strands are suddenly down — on the other hand — and the livestock are getting out — or in! — it has to be fixed then and there.

You'll find that it is easiest to replace defective posts first. Start by unfastening the strands of wire (whether tied or stapled to the upright) without cutting them. The broken post — stump and all — is then removed. (A pair of posthole diggers comes in very handy at this point.)

A replacement post is next set about two feet deep in the hole from which the broken upright was removed. And please notice that I said "replacement" instead of "new". While it doesn't make much sense to substitute a semi-rotten post for a rotten one, it's often possible to scrounge (from the toolshed or farm shop) a long-forgotten post of about the same age and quality as the better ones still standing in the fence row.

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