Five years later we thought we had better actually use some of the new rolls of weldmesh and pipe before they rust away in the sea air. The problem with the old yards is while they looked terrible, the bloody things worked too well. Sheep just fly through them, and we barely even used a dog in there for fear of them getting their legs caught in the rickety mesh. So long as we all followed the rules of not standing there, don't push them too hard in that spot, and keep a few bits of wire handy, we got through without too much trouble. In fact, I don't recall one broken leg at all.
But Gemma had had enough. Sick of twitching gates back on and re training everybody who gave us a hand, she asked me one day, "What have you got planned in the next few weeks?" Now this question always worries me. Do I say I'm busy and risk her buggering off out to the station again, or do I say I'm not and risk a list of house chores that Tim the Toolman would baulk at. I went with the latter, seeing as all the crops were sprayed and the urea was out, no ships were due into the feedlot and the books were up to date. "Good, because I'm pulling down these yards and we need them back up again in three weeks before the next weaning." Right. No worries. Should've gone with plan A.
It is a testament to the previous builders about their skills that it took Gemma only two hours with a set of wire cutters to demolish the yards. And a testament to her lack of faith in me that she only demolished a few of the worst sections, just in case we don't get them done. Which is good thinking on her part really, if I'm honest. So away we went, whanging in posts first. Our post whanger is fairly basic, with no side shift, so for a job like this you have to back it up on a dime, which is where this article's title comes from. But it beats digging holes and mixing concrete.
All the posts are in and the next step is the top rail, no big deal, just weld them on and measure and cut the last to fit. Then add a bit on because I've cut too much off the last one. Bloody chinese tape measure. This is why I don't do woodwork.
Now comes the fun part, welding on the rolls of weld mesh. The rolls are designed to trap your fingers, I'm sure of it. As you unroll them the inside coils suddenly unwind like a yoyo on speed, only stopping when your knuckle refuses to give any further. Then once you do unroll it, all it wants to do is roll itself back up again, usually as you are walking along it trying to iron out the bumps. But we get it hoisted onto the rail and held there with clamps while I tack one end on. Then we hook the ringlock strainers on the other end, attach the come-along and start straining. This is where I hope my welds hold. Amazingly, they do, and and we go along welding to mesh to the rail and posts. Gemma holds with the pliers, I weld, we shuffle down three squares and repeat, only stopping when a splutter of slag lands in my ear or down my boot. As I only have one set of welding gloves, these are obviously on Gemma's hands.
Gates. Finicky bloody things they are. If the levels aren't right they won't open all the way back, and if the grounds uneven you have to raise them then lambs get under them. Plus you have to make sure you swing them the right way, which involves lengthy discussions of which way the sheep will run, where you are going to stand usually, and if any sheep would get stuck behind them. All of which is envitably wrong when you come to use them. Out comes the oxy cutter, or hot spanner as I like to call it, and I blow holes in the posts where the hinges are to go through. Feed the threads though, tighten up the nuts, one last check and the gates swung. Excellent, only five more to go. Weld on a few latches and jobs done.