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Barbed Wire – Fencing the West

The Homestead Act of 1862 kicked off the expansion of the American West. President Abraham Lincoln signed the law in to place, which provided western settlers 160 acres of land- for a small price and the agreement of living on the land for 5 continuous years before receiving ownership of the land. Hundreds of thousands of people moved west to take advantage of one of the largest stimulus programs that the US has ever provided.

As settlers and ranchers made their way out to the plains, they soon found that they needed a way to protect their land from encroaching neighbors. Traditional walls or fences were made from materials such as wood, stone, or brick. The plains did not provide enough resources for these fences to be feasible. Something new needed to be figured out if landowners were to protect their property and cattle owners were to contain their animals.

19th Century

Before 1865, there were a few new fence ideas proposed, but it wasn’t until 1873 when four innovative men got together to improve fencing ideas. Joseph Glidden, a farmer, was the first to form an idea for a successful and sturdy barbed wire fence, names “The Wooden Strip With Metallic Points”- a wooden block with spiked wires, developed to prevent cows from leaning against the fence.

Another of the four, Jacob Haish, applied for a patent on his own type of wire, the S wire, which he called “The Winner”. Glidden was joined by Isaac L. Ellwood and the two founded The Barb Fence Company.

Barbed wire fence began to be promoted in Texas, but consumers were hesitant. They were concerned that the wire would hard their livestock. After some live demonstrations in San Antonio, barbed wire began to take off. Between 1873 and 1899, up to 150 companies at a single time were manufacturing barbed wire fence. The fence was praised and seen as a great option for the west as “it takes no room, exhausts no soil, shades no vegetation, is proof against high winds, makes no snowdrifts, and is both durable and cheap.”

The mass fencing off of lands began to start range wars between farmers and the open range ranchers. The US government settles these disputes primarily in favor of the farmers. Heavy penalties were put in place for cutting a barbed-wire fence. It became clear that the barbed wire fence could do the job of ranchers, and within 2 years, most of the open range was fenced in and under private ownership, resulting in the death of the American cowboy.

20th Century & Beyond

The barbed fence may have been efficient at discouraging cattle to escape, but it was not the best at keeping humans out. Razor wire began to be utilized to keep people off of private properties or keep them in areas like prisons.

Barbed wire maintained its growth at the turn of the 20th century, and then was used heavily in World War I and World War II.

Today, there are many different fence options- both agricultural and residential. Many livestock owners find themselves using ranch-rail or high tensile wire when fencing in livestock.

There has been a push to move away from using a barbed wire fence, as it has been found to cause many cases of wildlife entanglement. Livestock may also suffer severe injuries due to the barbs. In 2010, Norway banned the installation of  new barbed wire fence when used to limit the migration of animals.

Before You Spend That Tax Refund On A Fence

The new year is coming, and replacing that old fence will be on the forefront of a homeowners to do list…   In most cases, homeowners will use their tax refunds to accomplish that goal.

We at Custom Fence Oviedo are encouraging you to do your homework.    Understand, with the recent hurricanes,  thousands of new fence companies have popped up across the Central Florida Area, most small.    What you may not know is the hurricane work is quickly dwindling, and hundreds of those fences companies are going out of business, so protect yourself.    How do we know? Well according to the Owner of Paramount Fencing, “We are dealing with multiple homeowners who had a previous fence company disappear with their deposits. ”   He further added, “We are assisting several customers who job sites where abandoned by a so-called fence company.”

Our best advice is to do your research and make sure you follow Custom Fence Oviedo’s seven-step approach, especially if you desire a wood, vinyl, or aluminum fence in Oviedo, Winter Springs, or Geneva Florida.

Seven Step Approach to Selecting A Fence Company.

  1. Select a company that will actually show up to look at the scope of the project.
    1. Here is why:    If a company is not willing to show up and meet with you, you are just a number that justifies a means.  That’s right.  The fence company cares more about the exchange than the fact that you will stare at their lack of interest for 8 – 10 – 12 years.
  2. Understand exactly what the company does.
    • Here is why:   With the hurricane, we have seen a lot of non-traditional fence companies trying to install fences.   From landscapers to bug control guys, and from handy-man services to two guys in a truck.  Understand, fence companies do not generally dabble in other industries.   The fencing world is very technical.  If you don’t understand the product or what is being installed,  disaster lurks.  Just ask the homeowner in Seminole Woods who paid their landscaping company to put in their fence, only to find out six months later they just poured 12K down the drain.
  3. Understand the materials and building method being used.
    • Here is why:    The fencing world and manufactured products are very technical.   Don’t use the right parts, and disaster is lurking.  Just ask the Alafaya Woods homeowner whose T&G pickets won’t stay inside the pocket rail because the fence company did not follow manufacturer specifications, and used shorter pickets meant for another fencing system.  Now they are out 6k.
  4. Make sure the fence company is an actual business.
    • Here is why: Too many times we see consumers skipping this step.   Then, when problems occur they have no recourse.   The best way to verify a company really exists is to visit Sunbiz.org.   Understand, all fence companies where forced to incorporate in 2004.  Use the link to search fence is active or inactive corporation:  Sunbiz.org.   You can look them up by company name or by owner’s name. Bottom line, if you do business with an inactive corporation, you have no recourse.
  5. Make sure the company is going to follow all rules, laws and manufacturer specifications.
    • Here is why:  We are receiving a growing number of phone calls about fence companies not pulling, or pulling and not closing out permits.   Understand, any fence with the exception of field fence or chain link fence on agricultural properties must be permitted in Seminole County.  All residential zoned property need permits.
  6. Listen to what the reviews state.
    • Here is why:  Reviews will generally provide you a snapshot of a companies character, but use trusted sources like the BBB, Angieslist, or Google.   Understand, not all review sites possess safeguards to prevent self-reporting.
  7. Ask yourself a very important question.  Did the salesperson or company sell you, or educate you?
    • Here is Why:  It so easy for a consumer to be sold by a likable salesperson or someone that tells you what you want to hear.  That is why it is important to step back and ask yourself the following three questions:
      1. Was the product being used presented as a highlight reel, or full of helpful information?
      2. What information did they provide about the installation process and craftsmanship?
      3. Did they answer or provide information about the aesthetics, structures, and liabilities associated with the project?

Understand the seven steps are essential, a must follow.   It will assist you in avoiding common mistakes that result in the waste of those tax dollars.

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