Friday, July 3, 2015

The New Fence

This is an example of the fence around our yard.  It's old.  It's only 4' high.  The chain link "fabric" is bent up and broken in places where trees grew up into the wire and only God knows what ELSE.
The door that enters my office is about 10' to the right and 10' back this way, from the clothesline pole.

This was a tree we had to cut completely down on the other side of the yard. 

Well, you get the idea, right?

When we had a 6' fence put around the garden, I wished we had a way to increase the height of the fence around the yard to the same height, without having to tear out the entire fence, dig up posts, and start over.  Yeah, I know deer can jump a 6' fence.  But it takes a little more effort.  And the fence "fabric" was in such bad shape.  There was no continuous line along the bottom to keep something from barreling through the fence by bowing it in (or out) from the bottom.

And previous owners' dogs had pretty much been there, done that.

I mean, it's not like I didn't try mightily to pick Hubs' brain about how we could extend the fence posts somehow, without having to dig each one out, and reset taller ones.  What a job that would be.  Hubs was the senior welder at KC Welding And Machine in Bartlesville for many years.  They built those huge clamps that go around pipeline pipe, and they built Petromat Machines.  Those were their big jobs.  And then they took any job that walked in the door.  So I knew he'd already seen all kinds of modification solutions, and I thought, if he applied himself, he could think of something we could do.  But he never seemed to get any ideas.

Eventually I called Jeff Fesler, the new owner of Peper Fence, and asked him to come out.  I thought maybe we could brainstorm a way to do what I wanted to do.

You can imagine my surprise when, while Jeff was here and we were verbally casting around for solutions, Hubs came up with the solution (kinda like he'd known it all the time, if you ask me....).

Which just goes to prove that, you can try to pick your husband's brain all you want, and he doesn't mind so much looking blank and may even go so far as to say, "I don't know".  But get another man on board, or especially a young, pretty, charming woman, and all of a sudden he's a dang walking Encyclopedia.  I don't know why.  It's one of those mysteries that I like to call "A Man Thing".

Hubs called his solution a "swedge", but according to Merriam Webster, this word is a variant of the word "swage", meaning, "to form metal with a tool meant to thicken or spread metal (the end of a bar, or rivet, etc.,) by forging, hammering, or swaging".   It must be a pretty common term, as Jeff knew exactly what he was talking about the instant he said it.  The process flares out the end of a pipe so that it will fit down on top of another pipe of the same diameter.  Sort of the way a lot of vacuum-cleaner pipes fit together.  Or the way a ring that has gotten too small for your finger is enlarged by the jeweler.

Jeff went to a local radiator shop and talked to them, and they said they could do it.  Jeff said he didn't think it would affect the stability of the fence, because he would bolt the pieces together, and the wire "fabric" and top rails would add strength.  So that's what we decided to do.

He put us on the schedule and we waited several weeks.  He finally called Tuesday night and said he'd be here the next day. 

It was supposed to be a one-day job but it stretched into two because the chain-link fabric didn't get delivered until late.  And then it slopped over into a third morning because the crew didn't fasten the chain-link to the vertical posts and didn't fasten the bottom points of it to the horizontal wire that runs along the ground.  Jeff had come to get paid on the end of that second day, but when he saw how much they left undone, he folded up his invoice and stuck it in his pocket. 

One of the things I dearly hate about anything a contractor does on our property, is that the boss ALWAYS gets called away, leaves his crew to do their work, and as soon as his truck has disappeared around the corner, they slow 'way down or quit entirely.  This crew was not so bad in that way, at least on the first day.  In fact, I was real proud of how they kept at it and said so.  To them and then to Jeff.  But the next day went to hell in a hand-basket for some reason, and then on the last morning, they clearly needed supervising, and sometimes even some training on how to do it easier and more durably.  THAT SHOULD NOT BE THE HOMEOWNER'S JOB.  Unfortunately, it has been that way with nearly every contractor we've hired.  Always there is some kind of communications gap, like when the roofers didn't know how many air vents were supposed to go on the roof or that they were supposed to put extra nails in the shingles because it's windy out here.  This time, the crew didn't get the message that they were not supposed to take the fence down between the yard and garden and before we noticed what was happening, they had the fasteners all taken off the posts and all the chicken wire removed from the bottom 18" of the chain link.  We went that first night with our yard totally un-fenced, and the garden sitting there vulnerable to rabbits.  Now we'll have to hurry to get the chicken wire installed along all the new chain link, because rabbits can get into the yard through the chain link and now they can get into the garden through the fence between the yard and garden, standing there, as it is, with its chicken wire laying on the ground.

I expected damage to the bushes growing along the new fence, even though I went out there myself and trimmed things back, cut off branches that were growing through the fence wire, and so on.  I knew if I didn't, they'd probably yank the fence wire out and things might come out root and all.  This morning I went out and watered all around the fence, because everything's wilted, lots of broken places on the Elderberry bushes, Four O'Clocks laying flat on the ground, stuff like that. 

Add damage and Homeowner Supervision to the frustration of having to have the job done at the contractor's convenience, and the the cost, to me it just feels like it would be a lot better to do these jobs ourselves, if possible.  It might take longer to do it, but we could choose our own timing for when things are not growing, and there'd be a lot less damage.  Unfortunately Hubs wants no part of building fence.  In all fairness, the crew tried to damage as little as possible.  They were aware, if not always successful.  You know what they say, "You wanna make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs".  *Sigh*.

So on the last morning of their work, Hubs followed along after them, in the hot sun, pointing out every spot where they didn't hook in, didn't fasten down. 

And me, I'd finished watering all my half-dead and broken stuff and I was in the house just wanting them to get done so we could get this all past us and start getting things back to normal.

But it's now done and paid for and they are gone.  Maybe the crew learned something from Hubs that they will carry to the next job.  Hubs had gotten pretty upset when he saw how much they left undone on that second day.  He was breathing hard, like he does when he's upset, and his face was starting to get red.  I told Hubs, "Just calm down, it'll get all straightened out soon and we'll have this behind us.  And BE NICE."  As I told Carole when we talked on the phone, I'm not letting somebody else get Hubs all pissed off.  That's MY job.

Hubs has the new gates to make.  That probably saves us $1,000 right there.  And then we'll start fastening chicken wire to the bottom 18" of the fence.  After that, we can take the short fence down that is between the yard and the garden. 

(Refer to the photo at the beginning of this post to get a full upstairs-window view of this fence that's going to be taken down.)  I want the posts left in place so I can put birdhouses on some.  A mailbox on one (bought at a garage sale for $1), to hold my gloves and small tools.  And so on.  Jeff left us enough tall chain link fabric to make the gates with.  And he has agreed to come and pick up the roll of old chain link fabric once we get it off those posts and rolled up.  We'll do it a little at a time.  If the rabbits get into the garden, we'll just have to live with it for awhile. 

There's the "swedge", about a quarter of the way up from the bottom of the picture.  It's bolted together for added strength.

Hubs will make new gates here.
This gate was moved from the garden fence.  With the fence gone between the garden and the yard, there will be no need for two gates so near each other.  They closed in the opening on the garden fence. 

Oh, it's going to be so convenient to move between the yard and the garden now. 


  1. Looks great, Ilene. Ongoing projects can be a pain at times, but it is so nice when they are completed.


    1. Thanks Fern, I'm really looking forward to getting that fence down between the yard and the garden. We did some work outside this morning and I kept forgetting the gate wasn't there on the garden fence anymore. That's getting to be a bit of a nuisance. But it'll all get worked out eventually.

  2. How nice it all looks and who would have guessed that you could add height to your fencing like this. Your Hubs had it in his head. :-) Sorry you had some 'minor' difficulties, but that it all got worked out. It seems like with every job there is some sort of complications.

    Enjoy and have a calm 4th ~ FlowerLady

    1. Thanks Lorraine... You have a nice holiday, too.

  3. Your new fence looks very nice. My mulberry tree mess is still in the yard; maybe when it comes time for firewood it will get cleaned up. :(

    1. Taking out a tree does make quite a mess. But if it can be used for firewood, that's a big plus! Your mulberry tree will come back up from the roots. Might be a good thing, might not.....

  4. Had a nice comment typed out but the gremlins ate it again. Blech. Anyway, LOVE the new fence!!!! LOVE the ease it's going to provide and LOVE you guys too! Now, let's see if this will post.....heh!

    1. Oh, Paula, I wish I knew WHY you have so much trouble getting your comments posted here! I'm glad you had success the second time around. Love you, too! Hugs

  5. Well, he may have been a little late offering his idea, but it was a brilliant one! The fence looks very professional and strong. I wouldn't have dreamed they could do that. I sure hope you can get it rabbit proof.

    I am way behind once again. we have 4 3-day guests once again.....and Sylvia's birthday dinner and then the rains started again.......hope to get caught up reading and posting soon.

  6. You really had your work cut out for you. You did a mighty fine job on that fence. I showed my wife and she nudged me to go out back and start on our fence. It needs a fresh coat of paint. Thank you for a great blog and the inspiration I needed to get started on this project. Thanks.

    Christian Renwick @ Altitude Fence And Deck


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