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Tips for fencing on frozen ground

It may take a little longer, but at least the job gets done

When a crowbar isn’t enough on frozen ground, a powered auger 
can get a hole started.

With the 2018 harvest dragging out into late fall and a backlog of fall work to do, we weren’t too excited about trying our fencing project in the winter. We had over three miles of fence that needed to be built before spring.

Our biggest concern was that the frost would be too deep and that we wouldn’t be able to pound the posts with our Heavy Hitter without breaking them. We had to try, however. To our surprise, in November the frost was only about two to three inches down anywhere that was covered in undisturbed snow or that was covered in vegetation. Gregory was able to work with this amount of frost by gently tapping the posts with the post pounder until they broke through the layer of frost and then they pounded in nicely.

There were posts that we were not able to simply drive in, thanks to the frost. So we got creative and found ways to help the post pounder. For instance, in places where the frost was a little deeper we used a hand drill with a one-inch bit and drilled a hole where the post was supposed to go. This we used as a guide hole and put the point of the post in the hole and then pounded the post in with the pounder. When the frost was eight to 10 inches deep we used a hand drill to drill the guide hole and then used a metal bar to chip and break away the frost. With a guide hole for the point of the post and some of the frost broken away, we were then able to use the Heavy Hitter to pound in the posts.

In places where the frost was a foot or more down or anywhere that we wanted to use a larger post, for instance for a gate or a brace, we had to help the pounder out even more. We used a hydraulic post-hole auger attached to the bucket of the tractor to dig a guide hole for the posts. We made sure that the flighting had a slightly smaller circumference than the post. After digging the hole, we then used the Heavy Hitter to pound in the bigger posts and railroad ties. With a slightly smaller hole, the pounder still had to pound in the post, but some of the resistance had been removed. This made it to where the post was snug in the ground with no need to pack any dirt and the post was not broken or cracked in the process.We did have to pack the dirt around railway ties because they are rectangular. They were snug in the ground though, so it was relatively easy to pack the dirt into the two open sides.

Having to use the hand drill, the metal bar, or the tractor and auger means the job takes more time to be completed, but at the end of it all it is a job completed. So if the fall slips away on you, don’t worry. Just be sure to dress appropriately.

About the author


Heather Eppich is a young former Idaho rancher building a new farm and family with her husband and young son, near Handel, Sask. Contact her at: [email protected]



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