I have done a few strange things related to farming in my life, and today was actually the second time I have had to reacquire a fence. But the truth of the matter is, I have put fences in the wrong spot and had to move some on occasion too, so while I have spent several posts on how to put in a functioning NEW fence, I never actually helped fellow Permiculturists on how to redo a fence that needs to be moved.
I use Page Wire fences with barbed staples so it is one of the trickiest to take down in a state that can be reused later just as if it was new. But these techniques would also apply to barb wire fences and barbless cable fences as well.
The trick is knowing two things: (1) even with purpose built staple pullers, it takes FOREVER to pull a staple and in the number driven into the fence posts to hold the wire up, it is not even worth trying to pull them. (2) As great as it would be, and as simple as it sounds, leaving the posts stapled to the fence posts and then just driving them in the ground in the new location is impossible. The fence will not be taunt, and the posts will go in crooked, and it just will not work.
So knowing you cannot pull the staples out of the posts, yet knowing the posts have to be removed from the wire, the fastest, cheapest method is to use a 5 inch angle grinder with a metal cut off wheel. With the wheel you can cut the staple off from around the wire and pull it free. If you are careful, you will not cut the fencing wire; just the staple. If you do on occasion, it is no big deal on the field wires, but at ALL COSTS, do NOT cut the top and bottom wires on Page Wire fencing as that is your tension wires. Feel free to cut into the post however to get the staple cut.
I usually pull the posts out of the ground and get the fence, wire and posts to lay flat on the ground to do all this, often rolling up big lengths of it so that once freed, I have big lengths of uncut wire. If you cannot transport the wire home where you have electricity (or live off grid) I often put my generator into the bucket of my tractor, use an extension cord and cut staples free of the wire that way in a field situation. As for the metal cut off wheels, they go a very long time. I did a 10 acre field repossesion with 3 cut off wheels at $3.99/wheel. Considering a single fence post costs that, it is worthwhile to do.
Is it worth it overall?
I think so. A new roll of wire costs $179 for 330 linear feet, and posts are $4 per post. It took me two days of labor to pull, and reinstall that repossed fence, but with less than $10 in fuel costs and a few cut-off wheels, for less than $30 I got 10 acres fenced in. And since the fence was 7 years old, and has a lifespan of 30 years, 2 days of labor is worth 23 years of fence I think.
So if you find yourself needing to move a permanent fence, rest assured that you now have some tricks to make it easier.
Travis Johnson wrote:leaving the posts stapled to the fence posts and then just driving them in the ground in the new location is impossible. The fence will not be taunt, and the posts will go in crooked, and it just will not work.
It can be done, but not by redriving the posts. You have to make a hole for the post to drop into at the desired spot, then lever it to vertical, using that to restretch the fence fabric.And the next section has to be held vertical, one way or another, while you're doing all this. The trick is to set your holes so there's pressure on the bottom of the post as and after it goes in; if it's not tight then you get slop and leaning. So it's doable, but I'm not sure I'd want to do more than a short piece this way!
Have you tried pulling the staples this tool? I found it invaluable for pulling cleats out of reclaimed flooring. It's a uni-tasker, and not cheap, but the job would've been nearly impossible without it (and a quick-release vise on a sturdy workbench).
John, the one I use is kind of like that, but a bit fancier. It is an antique, and has a slide hammer on it so that after you grip the staple, you can pry back on it using the foot, or try and use the slide hammer to pull them out.
Part of the issue might be me and how I install my fence. I live on a hill and gets lots of wind, and being in Maine gets lots of snow too. The first year I had fence up, 1/4 mile sections were knocked down when the drifting snow fell against it. When I put it back up I used double-barbed staples and have ever since. They do not pull out...with a puller or by drifts of snow!
Rez Zircon wrote:It can be done, but not by redriving the posts.
Interesting. We cannot put post in drilled holes here because the frost will pump the post right out of the ground. They have to be driven. I have an attachment on my bulldozer so its not a big issue, but where you live probably frost is not that big of a deal, or at least goes down to 4 feet some winters.
John Danks wrote:Have you tried pulling the staples this tool? I found it invaluable for pulling cleats out of reclaimed flooring. It's a uni-tasker, and not cheap, but the job would've been nearly impossible without it (and a quick-release vise on a sturdy workbench).
I have used medium size channel locks , and locking pliers for pulling staples, they can be found cheap, are adjustable and therefore useful in many situations. Also you can torque on them and use the tool as a lever.