Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Building Fence: A Link to Memories

I lifted my foot from the accelerator and did my mental, "one little second, two little second, three little second ... " all the way to six little seconds.

Randy and I were building fence. Well, Randy was building fence while I drove the pickup to carry the fencing supplies. My life on a farm truly has come full circle. I was probably 6 years old the first time I drove a pickup for fence building.
Kim - May 1965 - Almost 8 years old
My dad was the guy who hopped on the back of the pickup between fence post intervals way back when.
It was a bit like looking in a rearview mirror to see where you've been, I suppose.
During this latest fence-building expedition, Randy initially was telling me when to start and stop. But after awhile, I started counting the seconds between fence posts and we developed an unspoken rhythm for the work. (Hence the "one little second ..." chant.)
The fence building isn't just a deju vu experience for me. There's plenty of Randy's past tied up in the tools we use. That's especially true for the Ford 8N tractor.
These days, we have a wire winder on the back and use it for rolling out electric fence so we can move cattle to stalks for grazing.
The wire winder itself is homemade from a Model T frame, adding to the longevity of this farm workhorse.
 I think the rust is the only thing holding the tractor together these days.
But there is something about tradition. That tractor seat has been occupied with five different generations now. 
Melvin and Clarence bought the tractor back in the 1960s, when Randy was in grade school.
Clarence (Randy's Grandpa, seated), his Dad Melvin and Randy holding Brent in 1988. 
Clarence and Melvin used it to load silage for feeding cattle. Randy remembers using it to pull a two-row John Deere planter when they planted milo. He also cultivated milo with it when he was junior high age.
Now he uses it to roll out wire.

That wire also tells a story. There is about 1 1/2 miles of wire on each spool. At one time, Randy says they had 12 miles of wire and posts they used for temporary fencing projects.  Over the years, he's had to discard some of the rusty sections of fence that have fallen victim to inclement weather and age.
Randy says that he used to find splices in the wire that he could attribute to his dad. Melvin twisted the wire a bit differently than Randy does. So the farming legacy stretched between the two generations even after Melvin's death.
And who knows how long that tool has been called into service for fencing projects?
But all those tools - and yes, the aging people - are still getting the job done.
The fence went around sudan fields and milo stalks. Many years, we bale sudan. This year, the crop wasn't very abundant. Randy did swath the edges of the fields to make it easier to put up fence.
Last week, after the "ladies" got their OB/GYN checkups with Dr. Bruce, we moved them to the stalks for a little winter dining.
They were ready to check out their new "digs."
Now if only the deer would quit crashing in to the fence.


  1. Wonderful history. Crystal clear skies. Hard to believe you have now had snow.

    1. Yes. We had it earlier last year. There's a potential for a dusting of snow for our Thanksgiving tomorrow.