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Fencing so a 12-Year-Old Can Run the Ranch

By   /  November 30, 2020  /  8 Comments

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If you set up the day to day operations of your ranch so a 12-year-old can run things, your level of
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About the author

Tom, along with his wife Jan, started raising & direct marketing hogs, sheep, cattle, turkeys, & chickens in 1999, the same year they completed a Holistic Management course. Their operation slowly morphed into custom grazing cattle on rented land and Tom’s passion for managing grass grew in the process. Tom & Jan completed the Ranching for Profit school in 2003 and found the ‘missing piece’. Since then, Jan has fulfilled her dream of being a nurse & Tom is currently the Production Manager of a ranch in north east British Columbia.


  1. Great article, next article I’d like to see here discussed is loading and sorting of cattle for a 12 year old and an 80 year old, I am 53 and hope to keep working my small cattle operation till death.

    • Tom Krawiec says:

      Great attitude Michael. Our kids would help sort when they were 9-10yrs old using poly wire. At that age they were big enough to lift the poly wire over the animals we wanted left in the pen or paddock. It is still the main way I sort when doing corral work. Of course my cowboy friends won’t even attempt it because ‘It’s not the cowboy way!’lol I will make a point of getting a video next time we sort so you can see exactly how it works.
      Ranching for a 12/80yr old is really a state of mind. A neighbour who is turning 77 this year is running 150 cows by himself with much less hassle than when he was 40 and running 80 cows. Now he only does what he wants. He likes to travel in the winter so he started bale grazing intensively 10 yrs ago. His grandkids just open gates to a new paddock once a week while he is gone. He hates removing twines or netwrap so he buys sisel twine for the people who make his hay and leaves it on the bales. If he requires day help because he pissed off his kids & grandkids, he just hires it.
      Jim is not an unusual specimen. He’s a grumpy old farmer just like lots of people around here. What he discovered is that when you make things simple, ranching can be easy.
      (Disclaimer: we did rent his land for three years about 13yrs ago and set up the initial fencing, so he had a template to start out with.)

  2. John Marble says:

    Great tips, Tom.

    One little trick I’ve started using is to place the Daisy strainer about 6 feet from the gate post, on the “cold” side of the gate. (Almost all of my spring gates are cold when open). This puts the Daisy in a perfect position to hang the gate handle onto, with the spring slightly stressed and suspended, keeping the spring from getting tangled in tall grass and easy to find.

  3. Bill Fosher says:

    “• Use 8’ X 5-6” pressure treated posts as end posts and gates pounded half way into the ground.
    Larger end posts are used because they don’t break when moose or elk hit the fence at full speed. When they are pounded in half-way a brace is not required to keep the post from moving.”

    This may be true where the author has built fence, but it’s not true where the climate and soils lend themselves to a lot of frost action. Folks in New England, most of New York, and probably some large swaths of the norther tier of Pennsylvania will find that single end posts, no matter how stout or deeply driven, will pull out of the ground in five to 10 years. Of course by then the 12 year old will be 17 to 22 and be full of vim and vigor and ready to fix it.

    • Tom Krawiec says:

      Thx for the comment Bill. I am located in northern Alberta and started fencing like this 15-18yrs ago. We have a lot of frost as you can imagine and so far the end posts are still holding tension on the wires. Of course the soil must have some integrity, so peat moss or swamp won’t work, but I also don’t put corner posts in that type of soil.

    • Kais Khelif says:

      Hey guys,
      I am in Minnesota and we get really bitter cold winters and my posts are only 3 feet deep. Posts have been in the ground for over 10 years without any issues. End posts are 5×8 and in between 4×8. I go like 10 feet between posts, they seem to work fine with the frost and all. I keep Texas longhorns and Scottish highland and big horn sheep in the fenced area. I have a hot wire running all along to keep the bulls in line. Man they are always testing the strength of the fence. I have woven wire in all my paddocks except one and sometimes they try to get underneath it for some reason. Grass is always greener on the other side.

      • Tom Krawiec says:

        Cool beans Kais! I like that the animals graze under the fence because it keeps the brush down and the fence clear. I have seen cows on their knees grazing 2-3′ on the other side of the fence. I don’t know why either.lol

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