Over the years I've probably put up two dozen fences of one sort or another. And since I started from a state of ignorance which farmers' sons usually pass beyond between the ages of five and six, I have made every mistake but one that it's possible to make. I've put up a fence without bracing the corners. Strung barbwire from the bottom strand up instead of the top strand down. Put the small end of a post in the ground instead of the large. The one thing I haven't done is to use white or gray birch for posts. And there it was poetry that saved me, not common sense. Long before I thought of being a farmer, I had read most of Robert Frost, and could quote from 'Home Burial': Three foggy mornings and one rainy day / Will rot the best birch fence a man can build. It's not even much of an exaggeration.
noel perrin, first person rural