Farmgirl Fencing {And A Million Other Farm Things}

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This summer, three years after we finished building and moved into our home, my husband and I finally started the long and hot project of building the fence around our house.  This isn’t just a simple little fence, friends!  We’ve dreamed of one of those beautiful post and rail fences that you see all over Tennessee and Kentucky on the horse properties.  You know what I’m talking about right?

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We have to have a fence to keep our cows out of our yard area and for 5 years we’ve had a temporary fence with t-posts and an electric strand.  Funny how temporary things just about become permanent!

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In early summer we began the process of building the fence.  We measured out the area on our hilltop and took in a large area surrounding our house, yard, garage, and beyond!  I think we came to about 1500 feet of fencing.  We did some research on the best wood to use and finally made a choice with pressure treated posts, which we were able to purchase at our local Farmers Co-Op.

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We used white oak for the rails.  My husband calculated how many 16 foot pieces we needed and ordered them from the local lumber mill where they custom milled them for him.  They are heavy and durable.  (Sometime this Fall we will be painting the rails black.)

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So then the big job began.  Eldon used the post hole digger on the back of his tractor, but because we have such rocky soil under all that green grass (now I know where the song “Rocky Top Tennessee” came from!) the post hole digger only worked for about 6 inches and then it was a miserable job of hand digging and chiseling through rocks so that each post could be put in an 18 inch deep hole.  He worked at a pace of about 5 holes a morning, digging holes every 8 feet.  I, thankfully, wasn’t involved in this process!

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He would get a good distance and then I would help him every morning for a few days getting all the posts set in concrete in the ground.  At this time he then carefully measured and cut the tops of the posts so that they were a consistent height and a height that followed the curve of the land too.

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Then we would take a break from posts and work on putting on the rails.  Because these boards are 16 feet long and very, very heavy we had to devise a way to hold them in place at the middle post as well as the end where Eldon was nailing.  I was able to hold the other end.  So we came up with this handy little thing that my husband built that hung on each post!  It had hinges on it so that we could open the little “doors” to remove it when we had three boards attached and then move it to the next section.  It worked like a dream and really made the job of holding boards in place a lot more do-able.

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Slowly but surely we worked our way around the hilltop.

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Eldon also put in some stock gates by his garage which makes it nice for bringing in any equipment.  It makes for easy access on that end of the hilltop.

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At each post where the rails met, it looked a little unfinished.  We’ve noticed before on all the post and rail fences that we’ve looked at (and that is A LOT) they put a vertical finish board on the outside of each post.

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It gives it such a nice finished look.  (Eldon will also cut that final top of each fence post off flush with the top rail.)

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Hot, tired and sweaty but just about finished!

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We have not determined what kind of gates we will have in the entrance yet.  Eldon will build them to match the fence, but the rails may be out of a different wood as the white oak is so heavy.  For now, that is on hold while he figures it out.

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What a huge relief to have it finished (other than the black paint – oh I dread that job) and we couldn’t be happier.  It is so nice to have a large yard area and it makes our home look a little less like a construction zone!

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Between fencing, working in my vegetable garden, canning my produce and working daily in the flower farming business I have with my daughter… it has been a busy summer.  However, we’ve managed to fit in some boating and fun family time too.  Exactly the kind of summer I like!

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I’d love to hear how your summer has been and what fun projects you’ve been accomplishing!

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Until our gravel roads cross again… so long.

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Dori

Leave a comment 21 Comments

  1. Denise Ross says:

    Your fence, looks really fantastic, Dori. Really suits your house. Phew, that is one heavy, hard and hot job. But I’m thinking there’s nothing quite like the feeling of looking out at it now,and going, yay, we did that, doesn’t it look great! I love keeping busy too and a farm would be lovely but not just yet. Love keeping up with what you’re doing. Take care and many blessings to you and yours from Australia.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Denise!

      I do think the fence sort of completes our house. Finally.

      What is it about keeping busy that is so nourishing? I mean, sometimes I wish I could just SIT AND BE LAZY and I just cannot do it. I really do try! The one place I manage to do that is the beach in Florida and we are heading there soon, so looking forward to that.

      Thanks for writing!

      – Dori –

  2. Nicki says:

    Hi, Dori! I have to admit, I have a little bit of “fence envy…” We’ve been needing to replace our split rail fence (“only” about 600 feet in our rural subdivision), and I really wanted a black, 3-rail fence. But to save labor & materials cost, (and especially since we might be “fixin’ to sell”), we’re opting for another split-rail.
    In other news, my daughter and I had the opportunity to spend a whole month in Oaxaca, Mexico this summer…a dream come true! (For some strange reason I’d thought the fence would magically appear while we were gone, but no such luck! LOL)

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Nicki, I think I would take the Oaxaca trip over the 3-rail fence any day! :-) Ha Ha!! Sounds like such an amazing trip. I want to hear more!

      And I bet your split rail fence is awesome!

      – Dori –

  3. Barbara Livdahl says:

    I love how y’all came up with a perfect solution for holding those boards in place – brilliant! Everything is looking great.

  4. Joan H says:

    Wow, great post Dori! I mean rail. No, I mean post, the other kind! Really though, what a huge undertaking. And the fence looks beautiful. Congrats to you both.
    Joan

  5. Ginger dawn harman says:

    Wow, what a farm chore! Looks great. Giving you a Farmgirl Sisterhood Ye Haw…

  6. Stephanie Graham says:

    I never thought a “fence” story would make me want to cry but I just had a picture of your house and property years from now! Lots of memories to be made there! It’s so neat seeing the progress from the beginning! All the hard work and love you put into everything you do really shows!

  7. Angela says:

    It looks beautiful! Can’t wait to see it! I know it was a lot of hard, hot work. And do NOT ask my kids about painting fences black. They will not give you any encouragement . Just wear old clothes! But it will all be worth it in the end!

  8. Adrienne Kristine says:

    Love your farm house and all the work you did on the fence. Now don’t throw things but have you thought about painting the fence barn red like the gate? I’m suggesting that option by looking at the overall property, your white house and healthy green grass. Just my two cents. Paint on!

  9. Joan says:

    Oh Dori, thank you so much for your wonderful post!!! Brings back great memories when I was on the farm. ‘Busy’ is nourishing and then to throw in some relaxing fun, well it just doesn’t get any better than that. Your fence looks superb and painted black will make it stand out and enhance your entire property. It will be so much work to do but so rewarding. The two of you make great work-mates. God bless. P.S. give that beautiful TN. ground a hug for me, so miss it.

  10. Val says:

    If you put wheels on each side of the center of the gate they will be easy to open, and use a roller when you paint the fence. You should be able to do most of it that way.

  11. Krista says:

    Wow your fence looks fantastic! You guys did such an amazing job! I bet it was a lot of hard work and you are so proud to see it accomplished! My husband has built many fences in his life and he says its some hard work. Glad I haven’t had to build one yet! Good luck with the painting in the future!

  12. Wanda Mouzon says:

    What a beautiful farm! And I love your narrative about life on it! It makes me miss the farm life when I read your blog. We now live in one of the densest communities south of NYC! They sometimes call South Beach, “little Manhattan”. But like the saying goes, you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl!

  13. Robin Reichardt says:

    You and your husband know how to work smarter not harder!! Looks great!

  14. Vivian Monroe says:

    It looks great! I know you are glad to have a yard now. :) Be Blessed and Happy fencing on down the road some time.
    ps let those grands do the painting, make it a party. :)

  15. Wow…what a project! It looks wonderful! Wish I had that around our farm…congrats on a job well done and thanks for sharing!

  16. Who needs a gym when you live in a farm? Hard work and the fence is beautiful!!

  17. Carol says:

    The fence is wonderful! I have plenty of projects, but my husband never seems to get to any of them. I have asked for weeks for the guns to be taken from the dining room, but they are still there.

  18. Marilyn says:

    Congratulations on your fence. Nice job.
    Marilyn

  19. Jannice Kolsbun says:

    I really enjoy the pictures of your beautiful home and the people who live there. I always think…what a neat person you are. Busy hands, kind and loving. Your grandchildren must adore you. Jann

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