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The grass has started to green up and getting the cows out to graze has become a priority for many producers.

Prior to that happening, maintenance tasks need to be completed. Checking for trees that have fallen across the fence, tangled wires from wildlife passing through, missing staples, broken wires and broken posts – all needing to be fixed.

Checking fence is not the most glamorous of jobs, but I always found the first trip around in the spring, far more enjoyable than subsequent checks through the summer. If done early enough, there would be no mosquitos! Cooler temperatures meant walking through the bush carrying a couple of replacement posts, post-hole spoons, tamping bar, chainsaw, wire stretcher and carpenters belt loaded with staples, hammer and fencing pliers was almost pleasant. A couple of trips through the bush carrying all that gear soon generated the wisdom to leave the chainsaw in the truck, and opt for the bow saw. If you needed to cut a tree off the fence, it took longer, but it was a lot less weight to carry.

My first few trips around the fence, I was basically a pack mule for Dad. Those trips allowed me to observe what needed to be done and one way it could be accomplished. Eventually, I graduated to operating the hammer, then the tamping bar, the digging spoons, wire stretcher and chain saw. The level of responsibility continued to increase until I was supervising a fencing assistant (AKA younger brother), purchasing fencing materials and finally, I was old enough to drive the fencing crew to the pasture, legally.

Many life lessons have been learned building fence. Some of mine include; prepare for the worst, hope for the best; pack it, you might need it; the job won’t get done if you just stand there and look at it; keep your tetanus shot up to date; shortest distance between two points is a STRAIGHT line; do it right the first time; and, soil texture and moisture content matters.

Whether you are checking fence with your child, your spouse, your hired hand, or by yourself, I hope you appreciate that there is more happening than “Just checking the fence.” You may be instilling a work ethic; conversing with your partner; providing training in anticipation and problem solving; or experiencing quiet solitude. May your fences be straight, wires tight and the posts solid.

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