Our little ranch is on the west side of the Great Central Valley in Northern California. This northerly part is known as the Sacramento Valley. It is so named because the Sacramento River flows right down the middle. The river issues from the slopes of a dormant volcano known as Mt. Shasta and heads south. The southern part of the Great Central Valley – for all you geography buffs – is the San Joaquin Valley.
You get to our ranch by driving through a bunch of low hills that make up the Great Valley Sequence. These hills are ancient (I mean really ancient!) ocean floor that was scraped up off the bottom of the ocean when the Pacific Plate was going somewhere completely different from where it’s going now. It’s a fascinating subject but we’ll leave that for another blog. Right down the road from our ranch are the remnants of a town called Chrome. It is so-called because chromium mining was a big thing around there in days gone by and not too far gone. So you can easily leap to the conclusion that this is a great area for rocks and minerals.
It’s not easy to build fences out here. But don’t let that thought lead you astray. There are a lot of fences out here for keeping the livestock that graze this marginal land. The soil is horrendous. It’s full of gravel and rock. Local folks say wait until after it’s rained a good deal and then think about setting posts. I am in awe of the sheer physical strength and tenacity of the original landowners who built the fences.
Fencing, as you know, requires a person to dig holes. Digging holes in hard soil is a task for Hercules. We got here in late August a couple years ago and it was very hot and dry and we wanted a fence for our backyard. We didn’t know about the soil yet. It took my husband Marty an hour to go about 6 inches deep before he threw in the towel. He thought, "well I’ll pour a little water in there to soften it up." Three days later the water was still in there and had not soaked in. I call this “soil” pulverized rock. It’s not soil. It’s evil.
That’s when I got the brilliant idea for the Easiest Fence in The World. If you can lay your hands on old fence posts, and a lot of them, you can build the fence very quickly. Of course you can always buy the posts but I think old, almost rotten ones make a rustic look that can’t be beat. This is not a very good fence to hold back large critters or even small critters. But if you have the need for a visual barrier and a decorative touch this fence is for you. We had a lot of old wooden fence posts that were pulled out when the metal t-post fences were put in so in two shakes of a lamb’s tail we were in business.
Here's how you build it. Step 1. Gather a lot of old fence posts. Depending on how acute you want your zig zag angle, you will need about 85 posts for 60 feet of fence. This is a fence 4 and 5 posts tall alternating. You can make it shorter or taller as you see fit. Step 2. Stack the posts. You stack them overlapped in a zig zag pattern. Take a look at the photo and that will help you visualize what you need to do.
The results are beautiful and every day I look at my new fence and feel happy.