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The Fence Post

Stone Fences Yesterday and Today

October 17, 2019 | by Joe Morrell

green grass near wall and trees

The gold city series 02

The First Fences

In exploring New England, one becomes aware of a continual presence during a hike or looking out a car window. Along the roadways, in forests, in front of homes, farms, and even office parks, stone fences speak silently of earlier times. The immutable evidence of a history of necessity; a result of farming and working the land, now juxtaposed with modernity recalls us to a fledgling nation. 

Frost heaves and Farming

17th century settlers created field after field; pulling tree after tree out until the land was 70% deforested. This allowed rocks to become unearthed from a combination of erosion and frost heaves, resulting in piles of rocks hauled to the edges of fields. They were, over the following centuries, laboriously fashioned into the stone fences we see today. This created a distinct line of forest to field. Of similar origins to the field stones of the British Isles, these familiar rocks suited the settlers in New England. Some surmise that the earliest stone fence in New England dates to 1607, most likely it was previous to this date. Ultimately some 240,000 miles of stone fences were erected, peaking in the mid 19th century, when industrialization altered the practice. 

A Habitat

Stone fences are hives of activity for many types of wildlife--small creatures take refuge in the crevices, spaces, and tunnels. The evidence or tracks of mice, squirrels, chipmunks, minks and weasels may be noticed in and around. The walls may serve as a system of trails by larger animals or foxes may deposit scat on or around the walls to alert others. As temperatures climb, spiders, worms, and insects use the stonewalls for shelter while tree frogs and snakes take refuge as well--hibernating beneath during the winter months. 

Here are some examples of more current stone fence building:

 

 

Another early fence of note and particular to the practice of the early settlers is the worm fence. A fence, zigzag in plan, made of rails resting across one another at an angle - according to the Random House Dictionary.

This style of fencing is also known as Snake Fence, ZigZag Fence and Battlefield Fence - the latter term due to its presence on many Civil War battlefields. Worm Fence (also known as Virginia Worm fence) has been used in America since the 1600's. Easy to build, split wood rails are stacked on each other to create the fence. The ends of the rails alternate, creating the openings. For stability of the stacked rails, each section of fence is angled from the previous one, giving the appearance of a worm or snake.

worm fence at Gettysburg

 

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Topics: fence, fence building, worm fence

Goat Fencing

September 30, 2019 | by Joe Morrell

Protecting Your Herd: The Right Fence

Adult and baby goat in pen

Barnyard or backyard, goats may be a source of comic relief or the creators of mayhem. So much depends on the enclosure you provide for your herd. Goats interact with fencing and will test its limits. Your herd of goats will find a fence's vulnerability and capitalize on it for their own exploring and ravenous ends. 

To begin with, a 4 foot high high tensile woven wire fence with 4" x 4" openings is the rule. Goats are strong and smart and your fence has to be as well. Tough and flexible woven 12.5 gauge wire with strong stiff stay knots is imperative. This combination of factors will stand up to the roughhousing that goats bring to the party.

Let's break down some of those terms--

  • Woven Wire--A woven wire fence's linked yet loose structure allows for a large amount of bend, twist and pull without breaking -- a perfect design if you have livestock to contain.This makes for secure mesh, strong enough to hold together well when impacted by a demanding goat. This also adapts to variable terrain.                                                                                                                                                                           
  • 12.5 Gauge--a thickness of wire with a minimum of 1,350 pounds breaking strength, which you'll find plenty strong for your goats.                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  • High Tensile--means higher carbon steel wire, roughly twice the strength of low carbon wire yet lighter due to the higher grade of steel, the payoff being easier handling. Safer than barbed wire for your goats and can be electrified. Standard Class 3 galvanizing protects the wire and extends its life. With proper maintenance it can last up to 40 years.                                                                                                                                     
  • 4" x 4" Openings--goats can't get their heads and horns through, avoiding injury. It's smooth wire; again, reducing injuries.                                                                                           
  • S knot, (also known as Square Deal): This knot is used insquare deal fence knot making non-climb 4" x 4" mesh sheep and goat fence. The S knot prevents the fence from buckling or sagging. It also provides extra vertical strength and rigidity while at the same time allowing flexibility. These knots add to the fence's adaptability to hilly terrain. One-piece vertical stay wires, attached to line wires--with a crimp--prevent slippage. 

A Goat's Ways

Add an extra strand of electric fence wire at the top of the fence to ensure safety, especially for more ambitious goats. Yet, no matter what system is in place when keeping goats: vigilance is required. A break or defect in the fence and your goat will take advantage of it, resulting in runaway goats. Straying goats will munch a rose bush over a clump of grass. When goats are limited to a grassy enclosure, the incidence of worms and parasites goes up. They are known as browsers in their style of feeding--leafy fodder above the ground is of particular interest and they will use a fence to find ways to get at bushy shrubs and the lower growth of trees--or happily climb trees. If you've got a goat that makes a practice of finding new and creative ways of escaping, it may be time to enhance your enclosure for Ms. or Mr. Gruff, upgrading your existing fence. A rebellious goat will readily tutor other goats in your herd with its pillaging tactics.

 

If you're desiring a backyard goat, remember that cities and towns may have size and number limits. Consider your neighbors as they can be noisy. You must have space--you cannot share your yard with a goat as your yard won't exist after a goat has its way. As omnivorous as they seem they will not eat what they've peed on so their fodder must be kept off the ground in a raised feeder. 

a black and a white goat in gated entry

Shedding and Fence Stress

Seems to be that shedding is going to be one of the stressors on your fence. Shedding? Yes, this is why a woven wire fence comes in handy; it flexes with the strains of a goat using it to rub off its warm winter undercoat that comes off in spring. You might give your goats a good brushing to prevent wear and tear on your fence. 

Goat Facts:

  • First and foremost--goats are social animals and being isolated is stressful for them.
  • They walk immediately after being born and are weaned around 3 months.
  • Birth occurs in spring, after 5-6 months gestation, producing 1 or 2 kids.
  • A male goat is known as a billy or a buck; if castrated, they are called wethers.
  • Females are does or nannies. They are generally ready to breed once they have reached 80 lbs.
  • Lifespan of domesticated goat: generally 12-18 years and varies with the breed.

GOAT FENCE

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Topics: goat, woven wire, high tensile wire, 12.5 gauge

Alligator Easily Scales Fence

September 5, 2019 | by Joe Morrell

Chain-link Fail

When thinking about alligators in the U.S. one imagines first and foremost Florida, then perhaps Georgia and Louisiana. However, their presence goes much further than that--add Alabama, Mississippi, South and North Carolina, the eastern part of Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, and the bottom tip of Arkansas. 

Here is a stunner. There is a plethora of safety guidelines available online for avoiding these threats to life and limb.

 

The estimated number of alligators in just Florida is 1.25 million. By the late 80s, the American alligator was considered endangered. It has quickly recovered its population since being protected. As humans encroach upon the habitat of alligators, the incidences of interacting with these significant reptiles have increased dramatically. 

In any case, the alligator safety basics are:

  • Do not attempt to deal with alligator yourself
  • Call your local animal control or 911
  • Do not approach an alligator
  • Do not feed an alligator
  • Avoid sudden movements                                                                                                                                                                        
    gray alligator at daytime
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Topics: wire mesh, fencing materials, woven wire, welded wire

Wire Mesh Art by Cédric Le Borgne

August 29, 2019 | by Joe Morrell

Art that is accessible and enhances the cityscape

Cédric Le Borgne is an innovative artist from Toulouse, France and this display shows how he has taken ordinary chicken wire and made something extraordinary out of it. Here is a short video of one of his exhibitions by night:

 

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Topics: hardware cloth, wire mesh

Gabions...More Design Ideas

August 20, 2019 | by Joe Morrell

If you've got the creativity, we've got the mesh

Standard or Custom

Welded from heavy 11 gauge wire, typical gabion mesh has 3" x 3" openings, with Galvanized After Weld mesh as the standard--protecting against rust while offering a long life. In coastal or saline environments, a tough coating of PVC is recommended to offset corrosion and this, together with the galvanization, offers double protection. Also available: panels for assembling gabion baskets, with a standard set of dimensions being 3' x 3' x 6' or a larger set can be ordered in lengths of 9' and 12'.

It's very possible that your project may require a different set of specifications--gabion mesh can be customized and special ordered.

 

At Louis Page, we love the ingenuity applied to the design of gabions and the endless variety of uses for them, whether it's for walls, casual seating, embankments or planters, the list goes on. The sturdiness and style make these small or great feats of engineering an enhancement to whatever surroundings they inhabit. 

They are also used for

  • erosion control
  • bank stabilization
  • channel linings
  • weirs 

Now just for fun, here is a look at the process of putting a large construction project together:

 

Shop Gabions

wire_gabion-resized-600

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Topics: vinyl coated wire, gabion, galvanized after, GAW, wire gauges

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