Sunday, August 28, 2011

Worst Job Ever

I think I have officially participated in the worst job ever on the farm. I used to think that cleaning the cow trough was a yucky job. Now I scoff at that notion. I literally laugh out loud when I remember that I used to think cleaning the cow trough was a rotten job.

As everyone knows we are in the home stretch of getting everyone moved to the new farm. In addition to packing up their stuff, Jason kept telling me we needed to "pull wire" before we finished moving horses. He brought this up several times and - silly me - I thought he meant putting up more hot wire on the top boards of the fence. Every time he would mention pulling wire I would think "we've never had all of the hotwire in place before we've moved horses so why now??" and go on with my day.

NOW I know why he would bring the topic up but we never actually did anything about it. "Pulling wire" meant cleaning out old wire fencing in one of the unoccupied pastures at the new farm. In the last two days we have pulled out over 3,000 feet of old fence and we still have another day or two of this project to go.

When I do the math it is actually much more than 3,000 feet of wire that we have pulled out, more in the neighborhood of 9,000 feet. Because the idiots who farmed this land previously apparently thought it was a brilliant idea to never get rid of any of the old, sagging wire fencing. Instead they would just put up a new row of wire fencing right next to the old stuff. So we are pulling out two rows of mangled up wire fencing plus a third row of triple strand barb wire fence. My arms look like someone has scrubbed them with a cheese grater after two days of being shredded by this wire. Thank god I had my tetanus shot boostered a couple of months ago. My clothes are ripped and torn as well.

Dealing with all of this rusted, tangled, mangled wire is bad enough. But you have to understand the totality of the situation. It isn't like you can just walk up to the old wire and start cutting and pulling. It is all embedded in, tangled in, wrapped around in about 70 years worth of tree growth and underbrush. We have to hack our way through the growth to get to the stuff, then wrestle it out. In addition to dealing with the wire I live in constant fear that I might run into - horror of horrors - a snake. Surely this type of habitat is perfect for snakes?? Not to mention all of the bugs and spiderwebs. The last two days have seriously been like one of my worst nightmares playing out in real life. I hate unidentifiable bugs and creepy crawly things, I hate walking through spider webs, I hate being in a bunch of undergrowth where I can't always see what might be in there with me.

At one point I threw my bolt cutters on the ground and said to Jason "this is why I went to college? Why I graduated magna cum laude? Why I busted my butt in biochemistry??" Imagine my voice getting louder and louder with each question . . .

Yes, you noticed I said bolt cutters instead of wire cutters. One of the things I have learned over the last couple of days is that wire cutters are pretty useless for cutting wire, especially thick barb wire. You want bolt cutters for this job. How does one go about removing old, embedded, mangled wire fence?

1. Hack your way through the woods and undergrowth to get to said fence

2. Rip away as many of the vines, weeds, etc. as you can while trying to identify exactly what is fence and what is not fence.

3. Decide how much of a section to cut. You can't just find an end and start pulling, the stuff is way to embedded and tangled in the growth. In fact some of the trees have grown around the wire so the wire is literally in the middle of the tree trunks.

4. Pick up your bolt cutters and start cutting away, trying to free a section of the fence.

5. Drop your bolt cutters and start screaming and frantically trying to brush off the creepy crawly thing you are SURE you just felt crawling on you.

6. Dig around in the brush and find your bolt cutters and resume cutting.

7. Repeat numbers 4 through 6 several times until you finally free a section of fence.

8. Start dragging the section of old fence out of the woods, constantly freeing it from everything it gets tangled in. Once you free a section it of course whips around and shreds your arms, clothes, snags your hair, etc.

9. When there is enough room to maneuver the tractor and you absolutely cannot get a section of fence out do what Jason does. Throw your bolt cutters on the ground in frustration and utter a few expletives. Then go stomping away with no explanation as to where you are going. Return with the tractor, hook the front end loader up to said section of fence with a chain, and slam the tractor in reverse. Watch with satisfaction as you pull out not only the section of old fence but half the woods and underbrush with it, complete with dramatic sound effects as you rip out the roots and break trees in half.

I made the offer a few days ago that anyone with the desire could come nail up a few thousand insulators to fence posts. I now extend to everyone the offer to come remove old wire fencing (triple layered no less). Really, it is fun and you will like it, disregard anything I said above. If nothing else it will give you a story to tell and some war wounds you can brag about.

Not Jason's happiest look ever. I believe he was in the middle of saying something along the lines of "if you take my bleep bleep bleep picture I will shove that camera down your throat." Notice his hand is resting on an old fence post wrapped in tangled wire that he had just 'liberated.'

One of the dozens and dozens of piles of old wire we have pulled out

me in action with my bolt cutters

Jason working away with his bolt cutters. Isn't it cute, we have his and hers bolt cutters.

In the midst of all our craziness lately we have had the pleasure of welcoming a new face. His name is Moe and I am sure you agree with me that he is super cute! He has a personality to match the name Moe.

Noble and Lightening making their way through the one of the paths in the woods


Tony hanging out in the shade


Elfin, Thomas, Homer, Chance, Leo and Levendi

Ivan and Apollo

not everyone works hard around here; Cloudy passing the time with a nap on the bench


Anonymous said...

Cats have it made.

I'll think I'll take a pass on that job - it does sound like about the worst job imaginable.

Bif said...

Funny, I was just thinking earlier today that a trip to TN next weekend could be fun... wonder if I should offer to do insulators, see the farm, ... But not after THAT post. That ranks up there on nightmares for me, too.

Can't you just fence that area off? ;-)

Sylvia said...

Are you sure you're not here? ;)
That's what we did all spring and summer. Wrapped up in all the barbed wire was a ton of old rusted out farm times! (we also found asbestos. not awesome) can't introduce Moe with that super cute picture, and not tell his story!!! ;)

EvenSong said...

On the fencing: been there, done that (tho not so much of that!)
On Moe: I don't see cute...I see strikingly handsome!
I agree with Kate: cats have it made.

SmartAlex said...

HA! As an experienced fence puller, I would like to say "shoulda called me. I'd have brought my bolt cutters" but there's no 'BLEEP'ing way I'm doing that job again if I can possibly avoid it.

Vivian, Apollo's Mom said...

I know what you're talking about- we had plenty of that on our farm in Va but we left it alone! Does NOT sound like fun. Moe is gorgeous, likewise my guy hiding behind Ivan.

Funder said...

Argh, plus you have to dispose of all that wire! It won't squish down and it's bulky and pointy as hell. Do not envy!

Moe sure is cute! Arab?

lytha said...

i got lucky and only cut myself once in my barbed wire removal project. the first time i cut barbed wire i had no idea what would happen (i'm kind of a city kid). it goes SNAP and then flies away at lightning speed, whirling itself like a crazy live wire around whatever it comes in contact with. the worst part was trying to rip the bottom row of wire out of the grass and earth that had enveloped it. it was a huge mess and not something the scrap metal collectors want to have. (we had to pay for its removal, ugh)

5 acres, 4 strands, all done. it was one of my proudest accomplishments ever. you probably remember my blog entries about it.

i think it's great you used bolt cutters. i had a heck of a time finding wire cutters powerful enough to get thru barbed wire. i was at the hardware store cutting different materials (cables, chains, etc) trying to find the best ones. but that is one of my favorite tools now.

isn't it a great feeling to get rid of barbed wire!!?? : )

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

Lytha I think barbed wire should be BANNED. I HATE the stuff and always have. Now I hate it more than ever after a few days spent ripping it out.

Bif - if you come we'll have a nice chat and I PROMISE we'll only ask you to nail up insulators! ;)

Moe is 17 hands and a warmblood and I look forward to telling his story. He's a great guy!

lara said...

I had a bad 'work' day and then I saw this post. I think I'd trade a day to pull the fence, but I'd wear some arm guards. Maybe a face mask? For me, probably a helmet, too.
But still, wanna trade? We can talk! ;)

And yes, barbed wire should be banned for animals!! Prisons, sure. But why on earth is it used for animals? Craziness.

FD said...

Ooooh. I empathise - I have three 2inch scars across my upper abdomen from replacing barb wire fencing. A hidden strand snapped and backlashed through a workshirt, a sweater and a t-shirt. Evil, evil stuff.

Moe looks to have a beautiful trot from that picture. At least to my dressage loving eye.

Anonymous said...

I too have been there, done that, have the scars. Um, yeah, bolt cutters rock!

Moe is a lovely mover! Can't wait for his story.