Mending fences

Tales from the Seneca farm circa 1953. This time of the year, mid-August, we were done with first crop hay, shocking and threshing oats, and well into second crop hay. Mending fences was a never-ending job. We seemed to have more fences than we needed, but that was because we didn’t have a silo and kept our cows in the pasture. Our cows were fed hay, cornstalks, and ground corn.

We cut our own fence posts at the same time as we cut large logs for lumber and small stuff for our wood-burning furnace. We always had a supply of fence posts stored by the granary. Most were simply large dowel rods, while others were sharpened on one end for driving into the ground with a post mall.

The buzz saw was used for putting a point on one end of the smaller posts. The driven posts were used in wooded and rocky areas.

Many is the day when we would hitch the two-wheeled trailer to the Massey Harris ’44, and load up fence posts, fence wire, post hole digger, ax, post maul, wood splitter, nail box and nails, hammers, wire stretcher, tamper, and crow bar.

Off we would go to fix a fence. Either me or my two brothers, Phillip or Bob, would remove the old fence post. Another would be digging a new hole for a replacement post. The third one would put in a new post, setting it down in the freshly dug hole, holding it upright while placing dirt evenly around the post, and stomping it down with a wooden tamper. We used staples to attach the fencing, both woven wire and barb wire to the new posts. We sure went through a lot of fence staples!

We “drove posts,” pounding the sharpened posts into the Wisconsin soil with a 12-pound post maul. Some of our border fences went through woods. In the springtime, we had to “walk the fences.” We couldn’t drive the tractor and trailer with all the tools and fence posts up the steep hill in the woods. We carried our hammer, ax, staple box, a roll of barbed wire, and that blasted 12-pound post maul into the woods. If we needed a fence post, we cut one from a small nearby tree.

With the end of the sapling sitting on the ground, the ax was used to give the wood a sharpened point. Dad or Phillip would drive the post into the ground. The barbed wire was stapled to the new post.



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