Spencer’s Run

IMG_3800 (1)Texas weather is usually pretty decent for winter, but this year we have had some unseasonably warmer temps and I have been able to get another project pretty much done. My Border Collie Spencer has been spending days I am home on a long tie out anchored up in a branch of the Mesquite tree outside my French doors. He enjoys being outside and I can keep an eye on him. Spencer and one of the feral cats play there together all day. I have been wanting to get a dog run done for him and have been watching Craigslist for some lumber I could use as posts. I waited months and nothing really was offered that I could use, so I broke down and bought some posts and concrete and decided to get busy.

Knowing I would have to dig some post hole and also knowing the ground here is hard packed clay, months ago I laid out where the pen was to go on the back side of the chicken coop and run. I have a nice Mesquite tree there providing some shade to the chickens, and it would provide shade for the dog as well. It also allowed me to make a bigger run for the money spent as I used the back side of the coop for one side of the dog run, thereby not having to purchase materials for that side of the run.

IMG_3835 (1)Because digging post holes is close to the top of my list of least favorite things to do in this world, I waited until we had several days of rain in a row, then went out and dug the post holes. The multiple days of rain had softened up the ground down several feet, and it made the digging of the holes a lot easier. I also got the T-Posts driven and they are even higher on the list of least favorite things. It was not worth it to me to purchase a T-Post driver for just a few posts… so I stood on an upturned bucket and pounded away. At least with the softened soil it did not take too long.

When I finally got the money to get the posts and concrete I was ready to set posts. The weather here has been wonderful.. days still up in the low 80’s. I traded some days as work and last weekend had three days off in a row. So the first day I went out and set my posts. I got 6 foot posts for a 4 foot fence. The posts were set 18″ in the ground so that is actually leaving 4 1/2 feed above ground. I plan on running wire across the top of the fence and putting a charger on it so it is hot. There will be no going over this fence. I may, if he ends up digging, also run a hot wire close to the ground on the inside. But these are projects for another day.

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The next day I came out and hung the wire. Was a bit of a pain to deal with a roll of 100′ wire as it is awkward to manipulate and heavy to move. It is also very tough on fingers and pretty much destroyed the nails. I also do not have a bar and come-a-long to stretch the wire as it probably should have been. Still.. I got it stretched pretty well and used “U” shaped fence staples to anchor it to the posts. I used wire to secure the fence to the T-Posts and worked from this front end to the back corner on the right. I ended up cutting the wire at this point to make it easier to work with in stretching and getting anchored to the posts.

When that was done I put the wire on the ground inside the pen and unrolled it to the far left hand post along that back side and once again cut the wire.. I was then able to easily get the fence wire in position and went about anchoring it as well. I have one T-Post along the back and was going to get another.. but decided to use the fence staples on the existing posts on the neighbors fence. That side is 30′ and I have a 4×4 post in the middle. The idea was to have a T-Post then dividing the 15′ run. I managed to get a few T-Posts from Craigslist earlier and just forgot to pick up another when I got the wood posts. Using the posts on the rail fence gave me the support needed until I get that last T-Post in and the fence secured to it.

IMG_3855For the gate I am  using a piece of cattle panel I had previously used as part of a compost pile. I have since created my compost pile off the side of the chicken run out of pallets so no longer need the cattle panel for that purpose. Right now it is just wired to the left side as hinges and I have another wire I use to close and lock the gate on the right side. Not super secure and not something I would leave him in without being home, but working right now while I decide if I want to build a frame for the panel and hang as a gate or figure out some way to hing what I have.

Though not completely finished it is pretty close to being done. Spencer  likes being out there and his feral cat friend often joins him to play. You will see some pallets in his pen that are stacked. He likes to get on top  of them and sleep as well as keep an eye on things. Plan is to use them to create a dog house and a platform where he can get up on top to watch the world go by

Though a simple weekend project for many, this project took me several months to get this far.  First, I had to work it out on paper to develop a materials list. Then I had to find the cheapest way to get the materials. I got the wire on sale and waited for some free lumber so that took some time. When the free lumber did not present itself I had to then budget for the cost of the materials still needed. Digging post holes at 55  years of age is not a lot of fun.. not really sure at any age it would be fun. But the side note on that is all this exercise is keeping me young by keeping me in shape.

There was a time in life I would be more focused on all the projects I still needed to get done. At this point I look at what IS done and celebrate each completion all along the way. Don’t know if that is age and experience talking or the fact it is just me and the acceptance we can only do so so much. Sure there is much still needing done.. but I am determined to enjoy the journey instead of focusing on the destination.


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