Fifth Interlude

Round and Round We Go

As mentioned in this post, the first time I searched for gates I somehow bought a round pen instead; which then sat in a large pile in our yard. One night after work, when we didn’t think we’d have enough time to work on the primary fence, we thought we could get the round pen up quickly. I know, you think we’d learn.

First we had to decide where it should go. The paper version of the layout and the actual version were close but not exact and I was worried about not having enough room where the water will be (north and west) so we planned on making it as close to the other two sides as possible (south and east). There are a lot of opinions on how narrow the narrowest parts of a paddock track system should be, but I opted for 15 feet of space. Since it was a 60-foot round pen with a radius of 30 feet that meant the center had to be 45 feet from each of the south and east fence lines. That was easier said than done since our corners are not 90 degrees, but we got the center figured out and marked it. From there I measured out 30 feet north, south, east, and west and we started putting up the panels. We had differing opinions on the best process for this. Option one was to move each panel to its designated spot but just set them flat on the ground, then once every panel was positioned we would go back and set them up and connect them. The other option was to set them up as we went, though this still required moving three panels first because one panel alone doesn’t stand up. We went with the second option. The issue is in a 60-foot circle the four cardinal directions are far enough apart that there were still two panels worth of space between the three panels at those points. Or so I calculated; there were twenty panels total, three panels at each of the cardinal directions left eight panels total to fill in between the four spaces between the four cardinal directions, which meant two panels per space. (20 – 3*4 = 8; 8/4 = 2).  It did not work out that way. The angles the panels had to meet at was not something I had calculated (I could have, but I didn’t – see previous post about not being that smart after a full day at work) so we were guessing and by the time we were getting to the point where we should be closing our circle we were clearly off; by one and a half panels worth, plus the door. I had forgotten about the door panel when I was calculating – oops. We managed to shift around enough panels so that we got the door panel and that last half a panel in and were only off by one full panel; but at that point we were no longer a round pen, more like an oblong pen. But it was late and we were crabby, so we stopped. As soon as we officially declared we were done Nate saw me staring thoughtfully at the oblong pen and then the space where the water trough will be and said, “You want to move it, don’t you?”

Yes, yes I did.

Staring at a not particularly round, round pen was almost as aggravating as staring at unevenly spaced fence lines. I can’t do anything about the fence lines, or rather I could but the amount of work makes me want to cry, so it was determined that we would even out and move the round pen when we had our friend over to help us with the gate.

This also meant I had more time to think about how to do this right and came up with a much better process. One that I probably could have found online had I bothered to look.

The better way to put up a round pen

  1. Mark out the center. We did that part right at least, and now I had a better idea of where to put it in relation to everything else. We moved it about six feet west and about three feet south.
  2. Actually calculate out the size of your round pen in terms of the number of panels you have. Turns out the twenty 10-foot panels + 5-foot door panel is bigger than the circumference of a 60-foot round pen, by about a full panel! We opted to keep it closer to 60 feet and we just have the extra panel in storage for now. Storage currently being sitting on top of a dirt/weed pile we need to deal with.
  3. Get something (string, tape measure, etc.) that is the length of your radius and tie it to whatever is being used to mark the center point.
  4. Use that string or tape measure and measure out the location of each end of each panel as you place them. This makes sure all your angles are correct automatically.
  5. Have three people to do this!

With the extra set of hands and the better process getting the round pen moved and actually round went much faster and easier. And now it’s actually round!

Now back to the fence, time to get electric.

p.s. do you notice the white bucket? Those little hold digging jerks are back!

Gate Expectations

Went looking for gates and somehow bought a round pen

Though we got almost everything we needed for our fence from Bluebird fencing we did not get the actual gates. We also wanted to get something to temporarily close off part of one of the shelters so we could use it as a makeshift stall until the barn is built. However, it is temporary (I will get my barn!) and anything 12-feet long, at least 4-feet high, and strong enough to stand up to a horse is going to be expensive so I wanted to get something we could repurpose – something like a 12-foot round pen panel (also called a corral panel) or gate. This meant I was looking for gates for the current track system plus at least two 12-foot corral panels or gates for our temporary stalls.

The issue is that to be horse safe these are inherently large, heavy-duty, gates and therefore not something we can transport in either of our cars. It also means that if you find a place selling good products at decent prices, but they are outside of your state, the freight costs eat up any potential savings. I had been looking at the stores in our area that do sell them, Fleet Farm, Tractor Supply, and Runnings (haven’t been to it yet but I’ve heard good things). Unfortunately, they either don’t deliver, or delivery added an extra $100+ to each gate and their websites were not easy to search or use to compare products. That ridiculously long video from Cashmans also spends time talking about corral panels and he mentions the importance of construction and materials, he also mentions many places don’t say what gauge their metal is, so you have go by the weight of the gate or panel to guess. He was correct in this, except many of the sites I was searching didn’t disclose the weight information either – great. But I kept finding these smaller operations in other states selling quality gates and corral panels for cheaper than the big stores and I felt like there had to be one like that closer to me – and I found one!

Quick side-note, from the beginning of this farce project, I have been contemplating who will be keeping Leeloo company once she is home. During that contemplation it also occurred to me that whoever it is will be new to me and though some people are cool working with new animals out on a trail or in a field I am a cautious person by nature (there is a reason my current Wordle streak is 221 wins but my average guess length is 4.2) and prefer to work in an enclosed area. Ideally one not enclosed by a barrier that will shock me or said animal if we accidently make contact with it. After that first corner post took us an entire day to install I asked Nate how he would feel if we modified the original plan and put a round pen in the center of our track system instead of another electrified fence run. This would save us four corners and two end posts, so we would only have to do 12 more and not 18 more! He was open to the idea and became more open with every corner we installed. This meant as I was searching for gates, I was also kind of low-key searching for round pens as well.

Livestock Panels of MN is located only forty miles from me and sells gates and round pens – perfect! It is a side project for someone with a contact in Texas, every couple of months they get big shipments of corral panels and gates and then sell them out as single items or entire round pens. The best part is they deliver and they are close enough that the delivery fee is super reasonable! However, at that particular moment they only had 10-foot panels and 4-foot wide gates and wouldn’t be getting anything new for at least a month or two and I thought we would have Leeloo home before then – HA! But they did have a 60-foot round-pen package available and the price was really good; I bought it and they delivered it the next day!

We still need gates though….