The Fence – Part 8 of 8

The Final Fence Post

I headed to LeVahn Brothers with a sample of what I was dealing with (hookup wire and irrigation tubing) and explained what happened (broken string, broken rope, stuck wires) and came home with some wire pulling lube and a better rope.

We were also back to a weekend so Nate could help. It went much faster with two people, one person operating the shop-vac on one end and the other handling the string on the other. We got the string through quickly and tied it to our new rope and got that all the way through. Then we tied the rope to the hookup wire, once again using the staggered approach, rope to ground hookup wire, then further down added the hot hookup wire. Then we lubed up the wire and Nate started pulling on one end while I pushed on the other. Slowly, but steadily, we made progress; though there was definitely a point where it became far more difficult, and it was about the same point where the rope had broken. We actually dug up the trench there to see if something had kinked the tube but from the outside it seemed find so we kept at it. Nate keeps pulling and I keep pushing. Then the rope breaks free from the hook-up wire. **** **** **** **** (This whole putting up a fence saga sure was stretching my vocabulary.)

Try, try, try, try again. Pull the string through, pull the rope through, attach that rope to that hookup wire like someone’s life depends on it; tape is cheap, use the whole roll! Nate pulls, I push, and slowly, so slowly, through it goes. We have the wire through the tube!

Now we need to connect the ground hookup wire to the ground rods and the hot hookup wire to the fence itself. I was smart enough to spray paint one roll of hookup wire blue so that we would know which was the ground line and which was the hot line. The next tricky part was getting one continuous line of hookup wire to connect all three ground rods to the energizer. The directions were very clear; it could not be three separate pieces of hookup wire, it had to be one continuous run of hookup wire. That meant we had to strip the insulation off the middle of the wire. That is not easy to do, and of course the video did not show that part; the wire was already conveniently stripped. Wire strippers are designed to cut the insulation and then you just pull it off the end, but when you are in the middle of the wire you can’t pull it off, you need to basically filet it off; very carefully, without hurting the wire, or yourself. We failed on both counts. The first effort was Nate’s. He did manage to get the insulation off, but not without damaging the wire, and in the end it snapped. **** That meant pulling more hookup wire through, though that turned out to be fine since we needed enough hookup wire to do all three of the hot lines of the fence anyway. The second effort was mine. Almost immediately I managed to stab myself in the finger, right through my work glove (picture if you like pictures of injuries). Luckily it was bleeding a lot so I was pretty sure the risk of infection was low; and somehow, despite having a white shirt on, I only got blood on my pants, the cardboard I was working on, the driveway, and the garage floor – my white shirt is still white! Nate had been using the string trimmer at the time with ear protection on so I hadn’t even tried to get his attention knowing he would be done fairly soon. As he’s opening the door to the mudroom he is asking “How did you spill red paint by your shoes?” Then he sees me with my hand in the air (trying to keep it above my heart to stop the bleeding long enough to wash it) and is like “Oooooohhhhhh, that’s not paint.”

We took a brief break but opted not to seek medical attention and went back out to finish this ****ing fence. I was far more careful this time and managed to get the insulation off without injuring myself or the interior wire! With that we attached the ground hookup wire to the ground rods and attached the hot hookup wire directly to the top line of ElectroBraid. Then we used a short piece of hookup wire to connect the top line of fence to the second from the bottom line of fence, and then another short piece to connect the second from the bottom line to the bottom line. Then another piece of hookup wire to attach the second from the top line of ElectroBraid to the closest ground rod (we opted for a hot/ground system because that was recommended in places where the ground freezes or when there are drought concerns.) Then we had to dig a trench under the fence to lay hookup wire below it to get electricity from one side of the gate to the other (I let Nate dig that trench, 115 feet of trench digging was enough for me – plus you know, the stab wound). One option for that is to just do a single piece of hookup wire that connects all three hot lines on one side to all three hot lines on the other, and then do a second hookup wire to connect the ground line on one side to the ground line on the other; however according to the internet (which is never wrong) the possible issue with that is if something goes wrong with one line of the fence it can affect all of them, whereas if you connect top to top, middle to middle, etc. and something goes wrong with one line, or you need to disconnect one of the lines for some reason, it won’t impact the other lines of fence. We decided to go with the top to top, middle to middle, etc. option. By this point I was an expert at getting wires through tubes and it was only a 12-foot tube to get under the gate and up on each side, so I managed that on my own all in one day!

Once everything was wired on the fence side, we had to get the hookup wires attached to the energizer which was in the garage. This involved drilling two small holes in the side of our garage which neither of us felt super comfortable doing, but we did it. Hopefully we didn’t mess anything up too badly; we used a LOT of silicone sealer.

We used a lot of silicone sealer, we are both paranoid about putting a hole in our wall. The bricks are holding up the end of the irrigation tubing which is folded over to prevent water from running down it. That also didn’t go as well as the directions implied. 

We still need to patch up the drywall on the inside but that is low on my priority list. Wondering why there is so much masking tape? That’s because we don’t know what we’re doing and it took a few tries to get the hookup wire through the wall.

We attached the hot hookup wire to the hot terminal and the ground hookup wire (thank goodness for the blue paint) to the ground terminal and plugged the energizer in. We officially have an electric fence!

I went around with the voltage tester and it seems like we have a decent charge all along the fence. There was some concern because of how far the various parts of the fence are from one another and the house is in between them, but according to the voltage tester everything seems to be working. Also, according to my hand, which got shocked when I went to fasten the gate. We really need better gate closures.

The Fence – Part 7 of 8

Electric Boogaloo

The idea of working with electricity made both Nate and I pretty nervous so we watched and re-watched the videos from ElectroBraid about how to hook up the fence and I did a lot of internet searching. The two things everyone agreed on were that the energizer or fencer needs to be protected from the elements but not too far away from your fence, and a good grounding system is critical to the operation of your fence. Those were the only things they agreed on. Here is a brief summary of some of the other advice:

You need to use copper ground rods – no, you need to use galvanized steel ground rods.

You need one ground rod – no, you need two – no, you need at least three.

You can’t put your grounding system within 50 feet of any underground water, electrical lines, telephone lines, buildings, or other grounding systems – no, it has to be 30 feet away from all those things – no, it has to be 75 feet away from all those things – no, it’s just electrical grounding systems and telephone lines you have to worry about – no, it’s just water – no, it’s just water running to your house – no, it’s just buildings with foundations – oh, and the ground rods should be in a low wet shady spot. Also your ground rods shouldn’t be more than 50 feet from the energizer.


Bluebird Fencing had already supplied us with three grounding rods and hookup wire so that part was decided for us. What we had to do was figure out where to put the ground rods.

We don’t have a barn (yet) so our only power source is the house and we did not design the house with the thought of having to run power to a fence. Our well is located on the north side of the house; the septic system, drain tile around the foundation, and propane come in/out on the west side of the house; the buried electrical lines come in from the south, wrap around the east side of the house and actually connect on the north side (that way the big ugly electrical box wasn’t on the front of our house). That means there is no place anywhere close to our house where we could put this grounding system. After a great deal of thought, and consultation with several people, we decided to put the three ground rods behind the first “barn” shelter – which is currently hay and wood storage. There is a little triangle of space there that isn’t fenced in and is shaded by the shelter for half the day and out of the way of any foot traffic.

The problem is this spot is 95 feet from the house. I did another round of thinking and looking and there really isn’t any other place we can put this grounding system so that means running hookup wire 95 feet in addition to the 10 feet between the ground rods themselves. That is one hundred and fifteen feet of wire to run, all of which needs to be buried, that means one hundred and fifteen feet of trench digging – fun!

We looked into renting a trencher, but you need a trailer to get it and we have no vehicle capable of hauling a trailer. I did briefly look into getting a hitch for my car, but after finding one and talking to our mechanic we decided not to. At that point I decided I had wasted enough time and had I just started digging that the trench it would have been done by now – so time to get digging!

It sucked! I would not recommend digging 115 feet of trench by hand if you can help it, but it’s not a complicated job so I couldn’t make mistakes and I didn’t hurt myself so that’s a thing.

While taking digging breaks I was also trying to find “polyethylene tubing” which is what our fencing directions said to use to run the hookup wire through when burying it underground, but no one could really tell me what that was. In the end we got irrigation tubing that would be wide enough to fit four lines of hookup wire, which is what we would need to go under the gates; the idea being that the extra width would make it easier to run the two lines (hot and ground) from the garage where the energizer would be to the fence and the ground rods behind the “barn” shelter. We were a little concerned about being able to get 95 feet of hookup wire through a small tube. It was suggested that we first run a string through the tube then tie the string to the hookup wire to help pull it through. The original suggestion was to use a shop-vac to pull the string through but I didn’t think that would manage over 95 feet so I tied a nut to the string and hoped gravity would help. It didn’t. I did eventually get the nut and string through, but it was a ridiculous endeavor. I would feed string through the end of the tube by the house and then shake the tube and slowly work my way down shaking it until I heard the nut rattle. Then I would use a magnet to try to pull the nut along a bit, but it would invariably get stuck, and I’d have to go back up to the top and feed more string in and shake it down. Part of the problem was that the tubing had spent its life up to that point coiled tightly and having to lay flat was not something it was interested in doing, so though gravity was helping us go down the hill it was hurting us on those coils. I did eventually get the nut and string all the way through, but it took the whole afternoon. Then I decided to bury the tube in my trench before getting the hookup wire through it. Was this a good idea? I don’t know. I was concerned about guessing the amount of tubing I actually needed since I could not get it to lay even remotely straight, and I didn’t want to cut through the tubing after the wires were in it. Even now, after having finished everything, I’m still not sure if burying the tube before getting the wires through was a good idea or not.

At this point we have the string through the tube and we have the tube buried in the ground. The next day I tied the string to the ground and hot hookup wires and started feeding them through. I would get so far and then they would stop going in and I would have to go down to the other end (95 feet away) pull on the string some, then the string would get stuck and I’d have to go back up to the top and push the wires in some more; back and forth, push and pull, back and forth. Then the string broke. **** (I will let you guess which expletive I said.)

From the amount of string I had pulled out I guessed I had made it a little less than half way. Try again. I pulled out the wires and untied them from the string and decided to use the shop-vac as recommended since the tube was buried and there was no other way I was getting a string through it. It worked, sort of. The shop-vac doesn’t fit snuggly on the tube so I had to hold my hands around it to create enough of a seal for the suction to work and if the string hit even the smallest snag it wouldn’t pull into the tube. That meant I would be on one end with my hands cupped around the tube and the shop-vac for a little while but then I’d have to turn it off, go back up to the top and make sure the string hadn’t caught on anything, like a blade of grass; seriously the smallest snag would stop all progress. Back and forth, shop-vac, then feed the string, back and forth. The shop-vac did eventually pull the string all the way through, and it was much faster than my first attempt with the nut and gravity. This time instead of tying the thin string to the hookup wire I tied the string to a stronger piece of rope and tied that rope to the hookup wire. I was also smarter and staggered the ground wire first and then the hot wire farther down so that the size ramped up gradually: string, rope, one hookup wire, two hookup wires. Then it was back to feeding the wire in on one end, then going down pulling on the rope on the other end, back and forth, push and pull.

Then the rope broke. **** **** (Again, I shall leave my reaction to your imagination.)

Time for a trip to LeVahn Brothers.