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Should farm kids help build a fence?Should farm kids help build a fence?

Too many twists make dismantling a farm fence frustrating.

Mindy Ward

June 7, 2019

3 Min Read
wire clip wrapped to make fence secure
FENCE FRENZY: How many times do you have to wrap a wire clip around to make the fence secure? If you ask my girls, the answer is “many.” Undoing this wire brought about a little parental angst.

Ugh! With one quick toss I threw the fencing pliers into the grass. I’d had enough. The wire job on this fence was about to make me lose my Christianity, and it was all because of my daughters.

In 2008, our family bought a piece of land with just a house. We built a barn for our sheep flocks but needed fencing. We decided to make five different pastures all separated by woven wire. And as any well-respected young farm family would, we thought our kids should help.

Together, we spent hours setting corner posts and pounding T-posts. Then came the rolling, stretching and attaching of the woven wire to the posts.

We used T-post clips, which are specially designed for attaching wire to the post. With a little instruction from their dad on how to use the pliers with the T-post clips, our daughters eagerly twisted them into place.

Fast forward 11 years and I realize there should’ve been a little more inspection and oversight in our fence building. Instead of making a simple twist that can be easily undone, my girls had made several passes at the wire. In some areas, I think they straightened the wire clip out just to see how many times they could twist it.

As I knelt on the ground in the pasture, head leaning on the post, I thought, “Should we have allowed our kids to help build the farm fence?”


RIGHT WAY: Here is an example of how a T-post clip should look — wrapped once!

Kid enthusiasm

Honestly, with the sun beating down and my wrists cramping, I thought, “Absolutely not.” But as I glanced up at the wire still wrapped around and around, I knew better.

Two kids were so excited about their new farm that they twisted until their heart was content. They wanted to be a part of the process.

Over the years, they ran in between these fences chasing sheep. They scurried up and over these fences getting away from some ornery bucks. And they might or might not have backed into a few fences when learning to drive the farm truck. My girls left their mark on the farm and it was tight.

Parental role

It is important to allow kids to be a part of the farming operation even at an early age. Find the time and patience to instruct them on tasks. Let them make mistakes. Encourage them to do it over and get it right. Build their confidence.

Parents, don’t be too busy to bring them along. Don’t be too afraid to let them experience the “real” side of farming. When your young child sees you having fun on the farm, it ignites their passion.

When they see you struggle to loosen a bolt, it inspires their creativity. And as they see you throw pliers, pick them up and get back to work. it pushes them to overcome.

The time spent working together on the farm can never be replaced. It offers teachable moments and invaluable memories. Go ahead, build that fence.

About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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