Photo Friday: Barbed Wire Fences

Thank goodness its Friday! On Fridays I will post a photo from the ranch and discuss the subject. Take a gander and see if you can guess what we are looking at…

Did you know, April is the peak for monthly internet searches for “farm fence”? Maybe it’s because so many people are getting Spring Fever and making their way down the to-do list. Or it could be that producers farther North are finally thawing out and discovering all of the fence work to be completed? Either way, I have already made my Spring rounds with the fences, but then again mending fence is a never ending process (especially with the recent severe Spring weather).

Most all of the fences on our ranch are built with barbed wire with some field wire thrown in the mix. Even with the frustration of putting together the puzzle, fixing fence is one of my favorite ranch activities. There’s nothing better to clear the mind than an afternoon alone, walking fence lines, and soaking in the environment surrounding me.

I have encountered all sorts of complications with fixing fence. The webbed wire is a mess to fix, giant oak trees make a mess of rusted wire, and there’s more than one occasion when I have mistaken a snake for a broken piece of wire. And there is nothing more frustrating than someone kinking a wire to tighten a loosened wire. You’re better off to cut and splice a loosened wire. A kink almost always breaks. It’s just better to do the job right the first time.

Have any special memories or tales of mending fence? Or maybe you live in town and have fences built from wood materials? Tell me all about it.

Barbed Wire Facts

  • There are over 570 patented wires, Less than 50% of the patented wires were manufactured commercially because of difficulty in producing the wire with automated machinery, or other excessive costs in manufacturing
  • American Joseph Farwell Glidden invented the first commercially successful barbed wire, which was instrumental in transforming the Great Plains of western North America.
  • The first patent in the United States for barbed wire was issued in 1867 to Lucien B. Smith of Kent, Ohio
  • Barbed wire has played a large role in war and combat; making its first appearance in the Spanish American war, concentration camps, and World War I. Modern day use of barbed wire can be found in many security fences
  • The introduction of barbed wire to contain livestock led to the range wars of the late 19th century between land holders and free range grazers
  • Barbed wire, like many other types of wire, is measured in gauges. My preferred wire to use in fences is 12 gauge.
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  1. Good morning, Ryan. Hope you survived the round of storms we’ve had. I haven’t had to put up fence for years and probably could tell a few stories. Just wanted to fill you in on something that concerns most farmers and ranchers that I did a story on last week – estate taxes. Maryland has always been in the forefront of farmland preservation. Last session our politicians played politics and did not pass a bill to relieve farm estate taxes. The bill was submitted by a freshman delegate and we all know what that means – freshman don’t often get important legislation passed first time. She had support from both parties, the Governor, the state sec’y of ag, even The powerful Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and will submit again next year. I used to be a political junkie – couldn’t get enough – but I am really tired of the mean- ness of politics the past few years. This bill is so important if we are to keep farming viable. Will keep you posted.

    1. Farmland preservation is important. I’ve always been interested about the farmland trust out in Colorado. I imagine if I ever collect a sizeable amount of land it’ll be put into some sort of trust so it will stay together, and in Ag production

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