Fencing a creek.
A small meandering brook runs the length of my pasture. It winds its way through a rock-strewn stream bed, between moss covered tree trunks, seldom reaching more than a foot in depth except for an occasional pool created by nature's handiwork.
This creek is one of the main reasons I settled here 13 years ago. On a bright day glints of sunlight play irresistibly across its face. In winter, snow caps the rocks and contrasts its whiteness against the chilly dark channel. The creek is restful rest·ful
1. Affording, marked by, or suggesting rest; tranquil. See Synonyms at comfortable.
2. Being at rest; quiet.
rest and brings me a peace of soul I never found in urban settings. But its beauty belies its potential to wreak havoc with the land and my fences.
My little brook is listed as a dry run on area maps. Years ago, before conservation practices on the farms surrounding me became widespread, the spring that trickles life into my creek would dry up every summer, leaving the skeletal rocks of the stream bed parched parch
v. parched, parch·ing, parch·es
1. To make extremely dry, especially by exposure to heat: The midsummer sun parched the earth. and exposed. Yet, it would rage with a furious silt laden torrent when seasonal thunderstorms thunderstorms
a storm characterized by thunder and lightning caused by strong rising air currents; identified as agents of animal disease because of their involvement causing (1) spasmodic colic; (2) lightning strike; (3) injuries of cattle acquired in stampedes initiated by storms. belched sheets of rain onto the three square mile watershed it drains. The aging flood tore trees from the banks, catapulting them into the waters; rolled enormous boulders from their resting places to spew them like a giant's marbles across the land; and of course, ripped any fencing in its path into a caricature of tangled wire, wood and posts.
Even with good conservation practices, my creek still floods. And when it floods, the fencing I have erected across the creek to keep my horses secure in their pasture is defenseless to its brown, foam tipped, tearing fingers. When the waters subside there is the inevitable chore of checking fences to secure the livestock. I have found pieces of my fence as far as a quarter of a mile down the stream bed.
I no longer attempt to span the stream bed with high priced, long fence boards. Barbed wire barbed wire, wire composed of two zinc-coated steel strands twisted together and having barbs spaced regularly along them. The need for barbed wire arose in the 19th cent. invariably in·var·i·a·ble
Not changing or subject to change; constant.
in·vari·a·bil tangles and breaks from its posts to lie in either heavy sodden sod·den
1. Thoroughly soaked; saturated.
2. Soggy and heavy from improper cooking; doughy.
3. Expressionless, stupid, or dull, especially from drink.
4. Unimaginative; torpid.
v. strands of braided braid·ed
a. Produced by or as if by braiding.
b. Having braids.
2. Decorated with braid.
3. weeds and branches or a murderous entwined coil waiting to ensnare man or beast. Cable held secure to the posts but, when caught by the plummeting roots of a flood impelled im·pel
tr.v. im·pelled, im·pel·ling, im·pels
1. To urge to action through moral pressure; drive: I was impelled by events to take a stand.
2. To drive forward; propel. tree, yanked half my fenceline down. If I raised the fence to allow the water to pass under it, invariably a pony or donkey would slip under it. It was a frustrating six-year-long war.
Creek fencing became an obsession. I talked about it with whoever would listen. The old timers would invariably nod their heads in appreciation of the dire situation and give a candid comment like, "Yup, cricks are nice, but ya gotta pay the toll," or "Pears like a Jeckle and Hyde sit-eation, what ya plan on doin' `bout it Bout It encompasses a gamut of musical styles: soul and pop as well as traditional gospel. Featured are covers of the Stevie Wonder gospel composition "Have a Talk With God," along with the Jackie DeShannon-penned inspirational classic, "Put a Little Love in Your Heart. ?" I'd just shake my head. If I knew, why would I be asking? I talked with store clerks who sold fencing, but most had never put any up, and weren't of much help. I talked to the extension agent. He wasn't any help at all. I checked out books from the library on fencing, but not one covered flooding creeks. I drove around the countryside assessing other farmer's creek fencing. It appeared that everyone who had a creek simply resigned themselves to fixing fence after a flood.
Later that year the kids and I went on the Minnesota Donkey and Mule Association's annual trail ride. It was held at Jim and Carolyn Burnap's 1200 acre ranch/farm. On the trail ride I spied what appeared to be a long narrow wooden gate suspended across the river that bisected their cattle pasture. Ah ha! A flap-type flood fence a fence so secured that it will not be swept away by a flood.
See also: Flood that floated when the river came up and hung imposingly when the river was at its normal level. They apparently didn't have trouble with trees sweeping down the river at flood stage or the flood gate would have been torn from its supports long ago. But it did give me an idea.
I was close enough to current to utilize electric fence. One horizontal line was run fairly high to be out of the reach of passing tree roots and branches. Vertical strands were attached at one foot intervals to the single horizontal line and hung to nearly water level. Flood water would simply lift and short out the electric wires tripping the circuit breaker circuit breaker, electric device that, like a fuse, interrupts an electric current in a circuit when the current becomes too high. The advantage of a circuit breaker is that it can be reset after it has been tripped; a fuse must be replaced after it has been used . Trees, branches, etc., could flow right through the vertical strands without catching or breaking the wire. After the flood, just trip the circuit breaker to kick in the electric again. And when the creek was down, any beastie beast·ie
A small animal. that decided this veil of wire strands looked like an easy way out need only step into the water, brush against the innocent hanging wires and receive a nasty jolt to discourage wandering.
I don't believe I have won the war. But for the past seven years, I have won every battle the creek has yet mounted against my fence.
Bill Bowling (Member): Fencing a creek 8/15/2010 12:36 PM
I had a problem with the swing type fence. The debris would tangle in the fence and pull it down sometimes it could back up the creek and we would loose several hundred feet of fence in two crossings. However the normal flood of 4 or five feet would tear down the creek crossing each time because of debris catching in the swing fence.
Last year I set steel posts on each side of the creek, Ran a steel cable through a pipe and attached each end to the posts. Welded steel pipe (could have used rebar) to the pipe hanging down in the creek. Each hanging pipe cut to within a few inches of the bottom of the creek. It created a "swinging comb" and it has worked great. A little expensive but unless we get a hundred years flood I expect it will last.