Monday, November 5, 2007

#@$%ing Fence

Everyone I asked said it would be simple. "Just don't turn it on until you're done, ha ha ha!" "Don't ever try to climb over it, that'll gitcha! Ha ha ha!" "Don't test it with your tongue! Ha ha ha!"

Oh, c'mon. I'm a somewhat handy woman. Surely I can run a couple of lines of electric wire around the chicken pen to keep the murderers away. Right?

Apparently not.

Every step of the way today there were issues. First off, I forgot how overgrown the grass and weeds were at the bottom of the existing fence. Not good for electric. So I had to trim all of that back, then I decided to pull the t-posts and mow it all short before I got started. Most of them needed to be turned around for the insulators to fit correctly anyway. After I reset the t-posts and rehung the wire, I realized I did not have the correct nails for the insulators that would go into wood. I also recognized that I didn't know how the ground wire clamp works. Off to the hardware store.

It's a perfect example of not understanding the language. Dennis said to me quite clearly "you tighten the outside screws around the pole, then put the wire in the little hole and tighten the screw." I bet almost any guy who grew up doing handy things would understand those instructions. Or pretend to. But I did not. "Do you mean tighten the screw through the insulation on the wire, or do I strip the wire and then tighten the screw on the metal part?" He seemed a little startled at the question, in a "didn't I just tell you?" way. "Strip the insulation, otherwise the electricity won't travel." Oh, sure, I get it.

Next I worked on attaching the ground and fence wires to the power source. Stripping the wire was a struggle with an old pair of pliers. Then I drilled holes through the barn siding to send the wires outside, lost track of ground and hot for a while, sorted it back out, and successfully attached the ground wire to the pole. At least, I think I did, but the fence isn't working and from what I read a bad ground is the most likely cause.

Running the fence wire -- how difficult could that be? I've strung lots of beads, threaded needles without reading glasses. No big dif'. Running the fence wire made blatant the floppy nature of my existing wire fencing. Oh, heck, this will never do. I had to fix up some supports to keep the wire fencing from contacting the soon-to-be-hot wire. Another hour gone.

When at last all the wire was strung, all the fences pulled back, I thought I was done. In the barn I plugged the power in and saw the happy flashing green light that pulses with each surge of electricity. Just like a pro, I carried the fence tester outside and stuck the ground into the dirt. Cautiously, I hung the other end on the bottom wire. No lights. On the top wire. No lights. Inside, the tester showed power coming from the supply. Outside, no juice. I diddled with it for a while but in the end I could not figure it out.

Go ahead. Climb over it. #@$%ing fence.

No comments: