Here’s some economical solutions when you only have one set of hands, or need a little more lifting power

“For a cost of about $50 this is a simple, economical post puller, which is ideal for quickly moving semi permanent electric fences and can even be used to remove ground rods. It is light weight and easily transported to those remote fences in the back of a truck or on an ATV.”

The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” was certainly proven to be true by the first and second place winners of the 2008 Innovation Awards presented at the Western Canadian Grazing Conference in Edmonton. Both Jane Charlotte’s corral jig and Stan Marshall’s small post puller were created out of a real need for finding a new way of handling ranch work.

FIRST PLACE: CORRAL JIG

CREATED BY JANE CHARLOTTE

Jane Charlotte is the lone owner/operator of Koru Farms; a managed grazing operation located north of Rocky Mountain House, Alta. “Some jobs on a ranch really require two people, but when there is no one else to help, you have to create something that is the other person,” she says. “You have to look at doing these jobs differently and work smarter, rather than harder.”

The corral jig she built and for which she won first place in the Western Canadian Grazing Innovation awards is a reflection of her ingenuity in dealing with the problem of having no one available to help her build a new corral and curved chute system.

“I needed new corrals and I wanted to build a low stress, circular cattle handling system,” she explains. “While a prefabricated steel system would have been great, the investment was greater than what my cows could pay for. A wooden system is much less expensive; however care must be taken so there are continuous board runs and no ragged edges which can injure an animal or handler. It is very tough for a person to build such a corral all by themselves.”

Charlotte’s solution was to build a jig on which the corral planks could rest in proper placement while she cut and fastened the planks to the posts.

“The jig was very simple to build,” she says. “I simply took a four-foot-long scrap two-by-four and using a table saw set at 45 degrees, created a concave on one side of the two-by-four. Then on the opposite side I used a dado blade to slightly notch the two-by-four for short two-by-four cross pieces. The corral system I built had five boards so I attached five cross pieces, spaced as I wanted boards on the corral system spaced. The cross pieces were glued and bolted onto the two-by-four. The final step was to screw heavy black bungee straps to the jig.”

“The jig is simply attached to the post at the correct height with the bungee cords,” says Charlotte. “With the concave cut and attached bungee straps the jig does not move or twist on the post. The planks you want to install sit on the jigs, giving you the ability to cut the correct angles needed for the boards to run flush. Most importantly, you have both hands free for cutting and bolting the planks to the posts.”

“The number of jigs you need depends on the length of the planks and spacing of your posts. While two jigs would have worked, I used three jigs with 12-foot planks and six-foot post spacing. With longer planks you may even want to use four jigs.”

Each jig only took about a half hour to build. All of the lumber used in the jigs was scrap. The only cash expense was for good quality bungee cords, screws and lag bolts — so over all the cost was low.

Even though Charlotte initially thought her jig was too simple to enter into the Innovation awards, the ranchers attending the Grazing Conference really liked her idea. Although she does not know if anyone else has built jigs, she reports a couple of her neighbors have borrowed hers to build corrals.

“Farmers share and that is why the Innovation awards and Grazing Conference is so good,” she says. “It gives cattlemen a chance to find out what other ranchers are doing differently and how we can put these innovations to work on our own farms.”

SECOND PLACE: SMALL

POST PULLER BUILT BY STAN MARSHALL.

Likely every farmer has struggled with the removal of an old fence. Now, with the increasing interest in rotational grazing and swath grazing, more and more farmers are faced with removal and moving of small wooden posts, fiberglass posts, or the steel T posts which support temporary fencing.

Stan Marshall of Rocky Mountain House had to move a temporary fence and although he could wiggle the posts, he simply could not pull them out of the ground by hand. Marshall did not have a tractor available for lifting the posts so he decided to build a small post puller based on the mechanical advantage of the lever.

Components for the puller included a four foot length of one-inch square tubing for the lever arm. The one-inch square tubing is very strong. To create a fulcrum on which the lever moves, he made a joint out of a clevis which was welded to the end of a two-foot length of one-inch steel rod. This clevis was attached to the lever arm one foot from one end of the arm.

Situating the joint one foot from the resistance end of the lever provides a three to one advantage. At the other end of the fulcrum rod, I welded a six-inch square piece of metal to act as a foot so the rod would not be pushed into the ground. Small triangular pieces of flat iron were welded to the rod and foot to provide strength. The final step was to weld a short length of light chain to one side of the resistance end of the lever and the corresponding size chain hook on the other side.

“To use the small post puller you simply put a loop in the chain, drop it down over the post right to the ground, put the foot on solid ground near the post and push down on the long end of the lever,” says Marshall. The loop tightens on the post and the mechanical advantage provided by the lever easily lifts a small post out of the ground. For fiberglass posts you need to make a few loops around the post to prevent the chain from sliding up the post.

Marshall has used this small post puller to remove five-foot long, one-inch diameter fiberglass posts.

He estimates the post puller would probably only cost about $50 in materials and it would take about an hour to weld together.”

This is a simple, economical post puller, which is ideal for quickly moving semi permanent electric fences and can even be used to remove ground rods. It is light weight and easily transported to those remote fences in the back of a truck or on an ATV.

Awards for the Innovation of the Year contest were provided by Lakeland College based in Vermillion, Alberta. Prizes were a choice of 75 Powerflex fence posts, or a Garmin Rino 130 GPS.

Gerald Pilger is a freelance farm writer based at Ohaton, Alberta.

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