Friday, September 12, 2008

Barbed Wire Fence

This picture was taken in 1939 near El Indio Texas. A farmers is working on repairing a fence. Fence work turns out to be pretty hard work. Especially hard is digging the post holes in rocky ground.


  1. Ever been to the barbed wire museum in Kansas?

  2. That there is a barbed wire museum in Kansas is why I love America.

    I look at this picture and think about how amazingly easy we have it today. Today, if you were a rancher building a barbed wire fence:

    * You wouldn't have to dig post holes, because you'd likely have a tractor, and could probably get your hands on an augur. I've put up fences both ways, and yes, post-hole digging in rocky ground ranks up there among the worst things ever. Digging holes with your dad's tractor is actually fun.

    * You wouldn't be using a dead tree, which you likely cut up yourself, for a fence post. You'd go buy fence posts at the Feed'n'Seed.

    * You wouldn't be hammering in nails. You'd have a honkin' big stapler. I'll bet they even have fence posts with staple-like tabs built in that you can just swage over the barb wire.

    No wonder we're all getting fatter. I'll bet that guy's fence was the equivalent of a month at the gym.


    If you get a chance, visit the Ellwood House in DeKalb, IL - the birthplace of barbed wire!!! It is awesome!

  4. I had the "opportunity" one summer in the 50's to help my cousin build a very large system of pens to hold Bramar cattle for handling and shipping. Those cattle are very large and often disagreeable-especially when you are marking their calf- so we built the pens using used railroad crossties and very large grade steel panels.
    The holes had to be 3 1/2 feet deep on six foot spacing so we dug a whole pot-load of very deep holes using only a posthole digger a sharp shooter shovel and a coffee can to get the last dirt out of the bottom of the hole. Then we had to place the post EXACTLY in line with the others and fill and tamp the hole until the dirt was level with the ground.

    I never counted the posts but I remember tht we got to pull and reinstall 21 of them because my uncle would come and look over our work at the end of the day and show us the error in our work.

    We had no power equipment and I fully agree with Richard the if I ever build fence again, I will find every piece of equipment avail that will not require me to hols a post hole digger or a tamping rod. Nor do I care what it cost because I know how wonderful it is to simply push a lever and accomplish in one minute what it took my cousin an I 15 minutes to do. Long live power equipment!

  5. Very nice photo find. Brings back memory to the ranch work my grandfather and father did in the 1940s 50s and 60s in El Indio.

    I can still recall the memory of being up close to fences like that and seeing the longtime developed rust to the unique design of the brabbed wire along with the types of tree they used to create them.

    A few times I got my clothing snagged while crossing over them in search of Indian arrow heads and fire rock or what ever else my brothers did for fun in the summer.

    One thing for sure is youll never get used to the hot and dry summer heat. lol!

    We moved out in the 70s.


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