We needed a permanent fence that would keep flighty chickens (layers) in and keep the deer and the wild turkeys out. We experimented with a few designs that all ended up being awful. And when we tried this design, the fence went up mighty fast and cheap.
The wood being used as the “filler” is from thickets that are already so packed, that the gub’mint pays people to cut it down in the name of “reducing fuel load” (forest fire danger). Normally 95% of these small poles will die and then get super dry and become a great spot to help a forest fire. What nearly everybody does around here is to make a big pile of this wood and set it on fire in winter when it won’t cause a forest fire.
But rather than needlessly burning this stuff, I like the idea of using it.
So here is the final product which I’ve decided to call “junkpole fence“:
Fenceposts where you expect. Three poles that will hold the junkpoles in place. The top and bottom poles are mounted to the posts and the middle pole is mounted to a few junkpoles.
This costs about $2 to $5 per hundred feet of fence. Once you have the materials gathered, it goes up pretty fast.
People were tempted to put the junkpoles in where the fat end alternates every other pole, but I think it is important to always keep the fat end down. This makes a strong barrier along the bottom to keep the chickens contained, and a “good enough” barrier at the top to keep flying chickens in and jumping deer out. Plus, it allows more light to pass down to the growies.
There is concern about rot along the bottom, but if rot does occur, then the poles will just slide further down as needed.
Only a few junkpoles are attached to the fence. The rest are loose-packed. They just slide right in mighty quick. This design makes for using just a few screws or nails (we used screws) – thus keeping the materials expense very low.
Gaps in the fence are easily mended. Sometimes some of the junkpoles want to gather up – so we put little spacer sticks in. Sometimes there is a curve in the bottom of the junkpole, so we put a few rocks in.
This is from Evan’s plot:
This is at basecamp where we have to use rockjacks because we cannot get a regular fencepost in the ground:
Our first attempt at a junkpole fence:
I think the junkpole fence design is similar to “stick fence“, “brushwood fence” or “twig fence”, but none of those seem to come close to what we did here. So a new name seemed justified.
Since this is a brand new thing, it is possible that as the years pass it will become a terrible idea. I hope to keep you all updated. I also hope that we will get more pictures in this thread – as it seems a lot of other people like this idea.
In comparison, we built some field fence too. It was running about $150 per hundred feet in materials. It did go up three or four times faster. Most of the time came from gathering the wood that would be used. But a lot of time went into going to the store to get the field fence material (plus, you could say there was some time that went into earning the money that paid for the field fence material). I also think that the aesthetic of the junkpole fence is much better.
Lastly, I have two more points to emphasize.
One is the idea of how you can save a few screws and make a stronger fence by toenailing the middle pole into the fence post. But I am reluctant to say this because less skilled people will then attach the middle pole straight to the post (without inset – to avoid the toenail).
So I made two more images. One showing the better way and one showing the “don’t do this” way.
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Paul Wheaton is the tyrannical dictator of Permies.com, the largest permaculture forum on the web. As a certified master gardener and permaculture designer, he’s built an empire around what he calls, ‘infecting brains with permaculture’. His forums are full of rich information, and there are a number of great free resources, guides, and articles that can be found on his sister site, Richsoil.com as well.
Most recently, he has worked with rocket mass heater experts Ernie and Erica in developing a DVD set on making your own rocket mass heater, and has produced another video series on permaculture gardening, which detail how to use hugelkultur, swales, and natural ponds to capture and utilize water without irrigation. His recent work with natural buildings based on Mike Oehler’s designs have resulted in the creation of the Wofati, a semi underground natural home design.
Crowned the Duke of Permaculture by Geoff Lawton and the Bad Boy of Permaculture by the Occupy Monsanto movement, Paul continues to educate and inspire at his property – dubbed Wheaton Labs – in western Montana, where he conducts experiments in permaculture and natural building, hosts workshops, and entertains the curious passerby. More information on stays at the property can be found here.