Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gate Gal Struts Her Stuff

The girls prefer to live on the edge.  We want them to be safe rather than sorry.  They want to be free: and if being free means being meat for a coyote, well frankly, they haven't really thought that one through.  Hens don't know squat about the reason for a fence or a gate for that matter. So when I made the fence taller to keep out the predators, made six foot gates to match, but didn't get them installed right away, the girls had to spend their unsupervised time in the coop.  We call it being cooped up.  So do they.  I'm sure I heard them chatting under their breath about making a break, needing damp, wild earth under their toes, and longing for green grass and being able to take advantage of the latest seasonal special: cold blooded insects that can't move fast enough at this time of year to get away from even a slow chicken.

Since I was headed out of town for a few days, install the remaining gate on the coyote side of the yard went to the urgent area of Things I get to do today.   I'd been on a roll with this project since Gwyneth's being taken away early one morning.  But the flimsy height extension of the fence was  totally incongruous with the sturdiness needed for a gate and it's closure, as well as the support for termination of the wire fence and the tension required.  I had fiddled with it for a bit, played, plarked and worked with the posts, somehow pretending that the metal posts zip-tied together in order to reach to the top  would become solid and hold their own.  Amazing how delusion tweaks our sight.  It didn't work.  The more I plotted with the existing components, the worse it became.  It came to two choices:  remove the gate altogether and have a solid fence or put eight-foot wood poles into the ground two feet and do it right.

Right-hand post installed and plumbed and ready 
I've preached enough in this blog about doing things well, "hard way is the easy way in the end", and liking quality.  It was time for me to stop talking and pick up the post hole digger.  In my defense, I had been mostly concerned with the need for making  two-foot deep holes through the root structure of the Giant Sequoia that guards our whole back yard.  Blessedly, there were no roots in the path of my digging.  A relatively short time later, the hinge-side post was in.  The left post was no more difficult than the first.

Badly skewed left post

I should admit right here that this was my first experience ever in creating this sort of sturdy structure.  Chicken wire needs to be tight, and when I pulled it so and stapled it to the post, it pulled the post out of plumb.  After all that effort, plark, work--call it what you will, it made my stomach slightly sick to see the post listing off to the East.  Fortunately it was nearly dark.  I hinged the gate and fastened it to the right post, unable to see the screws and just aiming for the barely visible holes in the hinge.  As I gathered up the tools and headed to the house, I knew my construction consultant husband would be taking a look.  I had the cover of one night to come up with a solution.
After a trip to the bathroom at 2 AM, I was unable to fall immediately back to sleep and the night gave itself to me for the hunt  My mind made multiple circular trips through my current life situations and finally found itself standing at the gate.  What I saw next was amazing:  it was the cover of a recent issue of MaryJane's Farm magazine.  MaryJane was standing by her newly and smartly constructed fence.  The article inside told how to do it.  My gate and this chicken-wire-pulled post needed a strut to push back on the pull of the wire. Not a thing wrong with my work--it just hadn't yet been given all it's parts.

By morning the project was as good as done since the process was now clear. I bought the post, tested the position, cut the angle, set the nails, put it in place, pounded the nails in, upgraded to poultry net staples and installed the latch. And freed the chickens.

Gate Gal's triumph with a smart strut


  1. Good work. That should foil those wiley coyotes.

    1. We've had good luck so far. At some point, Wiley wins.