Observations From Fence Building, by Mudflap

Over the past two months, my father and I have been refurbishing the barbed wire fence going around and thru a quarter section of excellent hunting, fishing and recreational land.  We lease the land and run cattle (steers) on it.  My father is a long time rancher and I am looking to learn the trade as part of my plans to better prepare for a rocky economical future in this county.

Refurbishing the fence is part of the lease agreement.  That is “sweat equity” if I ever saw it.  The temperatures have been well into the triple digits with humidity, on occasion, reaching 50 percent.   We take a lot of pride in our work and strive to put a lot of forethought into everything we do. We go not want to do things over again because of simple mistakes that could have been prevented with a little extra planning.

I am writing this to present my observations, not to brag.  (My least favorite articles on SurvivalBlog.com are the articles that provide no true insight but brag about all the effort that someone has done to get from the revolutionary moment when someone decided to start preparing up to present day.)
First and foremost, Water.  In the recent heat, water has been the most important aspect of being able to accomplish the work that need to be done. 
You cannot drink too much water.  As long as you can freely urinate, keep drinking water.  Don’t keep track of how much water you are downing.  When exhorting large amounts of energy in the excessive heat,  drinking only enough to “Wet your Whistle” is not enough.  This kind of exercise is not the same as playing in a softball game with a bunch of friends, or playing pickup ball with your kids.  The fear of the dreaded “side stitch” is basically nonexistent.  The kind of work and exercise you should be expecting to work, post-TEOTWAWKI, will be long and tedious and not fast and fun. 

On a side note,  I am not a skinny guy.  I am in semi shape but not where I am striving to be, but with that said,  I am not overweight or obese.  I eat good and healthy but do not get the opportunities to work out like I used to. 

My first rule with water that I have stood by for over 20 years of heavy exercise:   If you are thirsty, your body is in need of at least 16 ounces of water and could probably use 20 ounces.  Do not conserve your drinking water unless you absolutely have to.  Drink, drink, and drink some more.  You will notice that your body will almost instantly need to urinate after drinking this amount of water.  This is because your body is retaining the fluid in case it needs it, but once you truly drink enough to hydrate, your body will be willing to release the waste and the need to urinate will be quite strong. 

When we would go backpacking in high school the Philmont Boy Scout’s Of America Ranch in New Mexico, we were always told that our urine should be “Clear and Copious”. It became somewhat of a joke to holler “Clear and Copious” from inside behind your designated tree to let everyone know that you were staying hydrated and that you were done doing your business.  Even the girls that went with us would get into it. (We were some of the few 4-H members allowed to backpack at the Scout ranch.)

My second rule with water is not to drink it ice cold.  I don’t drink my water hot, but room temperature is just right.  I want to be able to drink the 20 ounces at a time without getting an ice cream headache.  Leave the super cold ice water for the dining table.  Ice cold water is for sipping, not drinking.
The clothing you wear is very important.  Be sure to wear clothing that is appropriate for the work you are doing.  I work in the oil field so I am very particular about having clothing that will withstand the work and stress that I put it through.  I purchase my pants and short sleeve t-shirts from Duluth Trading Company.
The pants that I purchase are the Fire Hose Work Pants.  I wait for a good sale and buy them in bulk.  These pants are not cheap.  You pay for what you get and what you get with these pants is a life time warranty.  If the pants can’t stand up for what I put them thru then I send the damages pair back to Duluth Trading and they send me a new pair.  These pants are awesome. 

The t-shirts have out lasted any free t-shirt that I got for donating blood.   No, for the work in the sun I wear a long sleeved, light weight, cotton, snap button, shirt made by Wrangler.

I wear a pair of lace up, over the ankle, leather, titanium tipped work boots made by Timberland.  These are light enough to run in but rugged enough to survive my punishments.  I have worn them every day for almost a year and the soles are surviving, leather is in good shape (I keep it oiled) and the insoles are just getting to be worn.  I have a completely spare pair of boots in the storage room, as well as a couple of spare insoles.  I will probably purchase another pair here in a couple of months.
I wear Drymax socks.  I find that these are sturdy and do great in keeping my feet as dry as possible. 

Boonie Hat.  I just started wearing a khaki boonie hat when working in the sun.  I used to wear just a ball cap.  But now, the boonie hat is here to stay.  I don’t care that my older brother makes fun of me.  The boonie hat out-performed my old sweat stained ball cap.

A good pair of leather gloves will never do you wrong.  Now we were working with barbed wire and clearing wild rose thickets out of the fence line.  My super thick leather gloves may not be needed for other types of work.  Whatever you do, stock up on gloves.  Buy some upholstery thread and keep your gloves patched up as the seams start to rip or you get holes.  It is a whole lot easier to mend a small hole than a big one.  (Pun intended.)
The last thing I will talk about is having good tools.  We care a pair of Cee Tee pliers in a leather hip holster on our side at all times.  I almost feel naked without my pliers when I am dressed up.  I always catch myself reaching for my pliers and not having them.  The running joke in our family is that there are thousands of uses for a good set of pliers and if you don’t have them on your hip then you will be asking the guy that does carry them on his hip to borrow them all the time.  Pretty soon we will tell you to go get your own.  Good luck out there, and stay safe.