Fencing is a fall and spring job that has to be done on a ranch. It is part of fall and spring housekeeping. Fences have to be fixed to keep the cattle where they belong and to manage the land so the land is not over used.
Fencing became an important and needed part of the ranches in the Green River Valley after the “Equalizer Winter” of 1889-90. The ranchers had to fence their irrigated hay meadows to keep the cows off of them so the hay crop could be grown and put into stacks for winter feed. William Sutton on the Bootjack Ranch was the first rancher to fence his ranch in the Upper Country in 1897.
Ranchers have to fix fences around the outside of the ranch along with cross fences to make different pastures to manage the cattle. Fences around the haystacks also have to be fixed so the cattle cannot get into the hay until the ranchers are ready to feed them the desired amount each day. Corral fences are other fences that have to be mended.
In the fall, hay corrals are fenced after the hay has been put in them. Many ranchers mend the cross fences and go around the outside fences in the fall too. In the spring, outside fences are repaired along with the bull pasture fences. The bull pasture is where the bulls are kept until it is time to start the calving window in the cows. Spring and summer pastures are fenced as soon as the snow is gone and the frost is out of the ground before the cattle are turned out on grazing allotments or pastures.
Wildlife-friendly fences are desired today. This is a fence with three or four wires and 40 to 42 inches high with the bottom wire 16 to 18 from the ground. Many of the old ranch fences are wildlife friendly because the rancher could not afford anymore wire than three wires.
There are all kinds of fences. There are three, four and even five wire fences. There are woven wire fences which are used mostly with sheep. There are buck fence, pole fence and wire fence with a pole on top.
Driving posts, twisting wire and pounding staples are all part of fencing. Post malls, crowbars, fence stretchers, wire pliers, barb wire, smooth wire and staples are the needed tools. Any time you see a pickup with posts, wire and other tools, the rancher is off to mend the fences, which is a never ending job.
From RealRancher Jonita Sommers – Pinedale, Wyo.