Line posts are the backbone of the fence. Likewise, corner posts are its foundation.
One doesn’t have a fence without posts, and there;s no fence if there isn’t a starting place. It’s not much different than life itself, really, all things considered. Although we never cared for it all that much, we’ve had to help build a lot of fence.
Initially, we helped construct wooden fence, much of it out of flooring boards, so the life wasn’t that long. Then, Uncle John, who worked for the rural power company, had a ready supply of used cross arms, which made longer-lasting, stronger fence. It took three decades, but now we try to have all corral fence built from steel, and it lasts.
Our two-acre farm was circled by woven wire and topped with a couple of strands of barbed wire, which made excellent fence for horses, and the few cattle we sometimes had. It would even contain hogs and the billy goat.
Dad got a good buy on some heavy four-foot-high woven wire, and we helped him re-fence the pasture with it. That is the first wire-fence construction we can recall, but we were just a helper, so we didn’t do any decision-making. Old electric poles were used for corners, and cross arms served as line posts, with every hole dug by hand.
Corner holes were three feet deep and tamped hard, so there was no give upon completion, according to Uncle Elmer’s rules. A special gizmo made from two-by-fours was used to stretch the woven wire with a heavy hoist, like those used by power line builders.
When a new fence was built at the “40,” Elmer spent his vacation digging post holes in the hard gumbo. A bucket of water had to be poured repeatedly into the ground, before any soil could be removed. Elmer pulled the wire so tight that the corner came out of the ground. Boulders were wired on in an unsuccessful attempt to bring it back into position.
About everything imaginable has been used for line posts at one time or another, but crooked hedge posts have been the most frequent and enduring. Now, steel posts are driven in for new and repaired fences. Considerable barbed wire fence has been repaired with baling wire, and it’ll last about a year, before rusting through and needing a re-fix.
In our own first major barbed wire fence construction, we were more concerned about placement of the brace piece on the corner than the post itself. We put a three-inch-diameter post in for the corner and a six-incher in for the brace post. When the new fence sagged, we learned the importance of a deeply planted 10-inch-plus hedge or pipe corner.
Although a well-built fence can last many years, fence construction and repair seem never-ending in major livestock operations. Obviously, good fences not only keep livestock where we want it, but make neighbors happier, too.
Warning in Psalm 11:3: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Likewise, the advice in First Timothy 6:19: “Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”