Friday Firesmith – The Fence

I remember building the fence, back in 2001, and originally, there was only a quarter-acre or so that was fenced. It was a simple wire field fence with a double strand of barbwire on top. Neither Sam nor Bert had any notions as to escape, and they didn’t try, either. And that was good enough for the two dogs until 2007 when my neighbor decided to fence in the property behind mine. We got together on a price and who would do what, and suddenly I had about an acre and a half fenced in, and the dogs were in heaven.

There were trees, giant trees, underbrush, and room to run. The first path that was beaten into the ground was the perimeter path, and Bert would run around the perimeter when I got home every day, to tell me everything was okay. The years took a toll on Bert, and he started walking around the perimeter with me, and when he went alone it took a while. I would wait sometimes and listen to his vaccination tags jingle, and Bert would see me, and wag his tail.

Over the years, we’ve had the Cousin Dogs, who dug out and escaped far too often, but all in all, everyone here had stayed put. The electric fence helps, certainly, but generally speaking, if a dog wants to roam it’s a given nothing can stop them.

The electric fence is a simple thing, with a power source and two terminals, one hot and one ground, that creates a current of electricity in the wire. Touch the wire and feel the fire. After twenty years or so of the top wire being spliced and repaired a dozen or so times, I replaced it Sunday. It broke in some places from me handling it. The new wire went up, and I remember putting the thing together for the first time. There were vines and bushes that needed cutting back, and a few of the trees that were incorporated into the original fence are gone now. The massive monolith of a dead tree that held the center of the wire in the back fell over one day, taking out the field fence, and the hot wire. Some of the plastic insulators were brittle with age as well. I remember it being a very cold day when I strung that wire, and I remember it took a while to get all the shorts out, where I didn’t notice the hot wire touching the field fence or the barbwire. It was my first long wire and an experience.

Sunday, after three hours of clearing, then taking the old wire down, and finally putting the new wire up, I walked the line again, checking on what was touching something it shouldn’t, and it looked good to me. I plugged the charger in, got the tester out, and saw nothing but the bright light of success blinking away. That tickled the hell out of me, somewhat.

There’s a lot to be said for sweat and manual labor. There’s some time in a man’s life, and a woman’s, that should be devoted to a task where there are no screens and no phone calls, and the only company should be a dog who will stay close until the task is done. I’ve bug bites aplenty, and my back is sore, but the perimeter is tight, and my pack is safe.

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

2 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – The Fence”

  1. There’s a lot to be said for projects where you know what to do without figuring it out, but have to pay enough attention to keep from screwing up or getting hurt. So not navel gazing but room to observe the details around you and reflect or plan. Mowing the lawn or splitting firewood come to mind.
    I remember the push to get it done the first time to help keep the cousins in and coyotes out.

  2. It’s odd to live in the wild and have to adjust to protect myself from it, betimes. But there’s a limit, even if most people can’t understand why that limit isn’t out further than I have it. I’ll do a piece on the coyote that got in a couple of weeks ago, and why I think he was in. And why the dogs didn’t react to him.

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