Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Small Project Offers Big Results

My latest project has been a new fence around my sled dog yard. It doesn't look like much, but it makes a huge difference in managing the yard and caring for the dogs.The fence will help keep stray critters away from my hard working buddies, and that's the most important thing. It also helps contain any dogs that slip their collars or otherwise escape their tethers. With the yard finally fenced in, I can let dogs loose to play together while I'm working or just hanging out in the yard. That gives them a chance to run around unfettered for a while.

This was one of those projects that needed to be done "on the cheap", as hardware cloth fencing is stinking expensive up here. Nearly $90.00 for a 100 foot roll. I had one 50 foot roll of fencing at hand, and Mike Green gave me most of another, along with several smaller pieces. This meant I only had to buy 1 roll of new fencing rather than 3.

The posts came from the black spruce trees I thinned from behind the house early this spring. They cost nothing more than some sweat and mosquito bites, and I'd have been bitten the skeeters in any event. Although digging post holes with a manual PHD (post hole digger) took a lot of time, it was cheaper than renting an auger, and an auger would require an additional person to help, I luxury I can't always easily obtain. Posts are spaced eight and 1/2 feet apart and each is buried at least three feet, and most 4 feet deep.

Although it's not a huge yard to fence in, it needed three gates. One, at the end nearest the house, allows easy access for feeding and other husbandry chores. The other two are located opposite each other on the sides of the enclosure, so I can drive a four wheeler or small tractor across the yard to access the back of my property.

I wanted the gates to be as light weight as possible and set up so they can be raised as snow accumulates over the winter. To accomplish that I made them of 1" PVC pipe. The "hinges" are simply eye-bolts, which hang on trunions made from 3/4 eye "hooks" in the gate posts. By mounting a series of hooks up the post I can raise the lower the gate as needed to accommodate changing snow conditions.

This morning I added a 'spare' house and swivel post. While I was working I let some of the dogs off their tethers to play, and was delighted by their interactions. They seemed to be having a TON of fun running and playing together. With the extra "spot" for a dog in the yard it is much easier to rotate dogs between my free run pen and the main yard. It also lets me move a dog in order to work on its house or swivel.

The whole project took about three days of full-time effort, but the investment has been more than paid back just by changing the environment to allow dogs to interact more frequently and more naturally.


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