Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Those Fences With-the-very-close-Posts

I shared some of our unusual fences with posts only a couple of feet apart last week, and asked if anyone else had seen these.  I've since consulted with a couple of my friends who are long-time farmers in the area and got the real story behind these.  Several of you suggested they were snow fences, and you're partly right.

My friends first pointed out that you only see these fences along roads, not dividing the internal fields of a farm.  The fact is that these fences get totally buried in snow thrown by the snowplow, which shatters the light structure of new-fallen snow and leaves the snowbank at least twice as dense as the snow elsewhere, and of course pile the snow much deeper.

You then have to think about how these deep roadside snowbanks behave in winter.  As we get milder periods, the snow collapses further on itself, becoming ever more dense, and if the temperature is high enough before freezing again, forming a layer of ice.  Over the winter season, these snowbanks will become densely-packed with icy layers in between fresh snowfalls.

We're in the snowbelt here, as you can see in these two pictures, so the snow might be 10 or even 15 feet deep over these fences by late winter.  And when all that collapses in the spring thaw, it takes the fence wires down with it.

This is the same roadside pictured above, from last February.  The snowbanks got about 5 feet deeper at their highest point.

So farmers stick extra short posts in between the 'real' posts, often simply sitting on the ground, and staple the wires to each of these intervening posts.  This is enough to keep these fences from collapsing after being buried in winter snow and ice as the intervening shorter posts keep the wires from sagging.  Interesting local adaptation to our sometimes crazy snowbelt winters!  So these fences are about accumulating snow, but not exactly snowfences.

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18 comments:

  1. great explanation, and super photos, love those piles at the sides of the road, in all my lifetime, and I am, (whisper so softly) 74, I haven't seen anything like that at all. But if we were to move to the South Island, and in Central Otago, would see it in winter there.Jean

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  2. Makes perfect sense once it's explained, but I never would have guessed.

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  3. All very obvious once someone has told you! Makes you wonder how long it would have taken a team of scientists to come up with the same solution to the problem.

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  4. Love the pictures with the fences in the snow!

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  5. these are beautiful scenes with the snow and I see you have had a lot of it.

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  6. that makes total sense, now that you've explained it! wow, that's a load o' snow!

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  7. That sounds logical to me - nice fence photos!

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  8. Thanks for the explanation and beautiful pictures to go along with it. You can't beat the ingenuity of farmers when they deal with Mother Nature.

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  9. Well, how very interesting! And lovely photos to boot! I grew up (or tried to) in Quebec's Chateauguay Valley dairy-farm area where we saw similar fences but I never once thought to ask about the closely set poles. Makes perfect sense.

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  10. Hello There, I enjoyed your post today. I saw some of these 'snow fences' for the first time when we were traveling out west a few years ago.... Since I'm from the south, I cannot imagine EVER having that much snow... Mercy ME!!!!! ha

    Sorry I haven’t been around much lately. I do try to read blogs—but just haven’t commented very much lately like I usually try to do. Please don’t give up on me. Hopefully my life will be back to ‘normal’— whatever that is (ha), sometime in January.

    I did get a cortisone shot in my knee —which has helped with the pain somewhat. In January, I will most likely have meniscus tear surgery…. BUT—in the meantime, I plan to have a fantastic Christmas —and hopefully get to see my kids/grands… God is Good.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  11. I've never thought about the perils of being a fence in the snow belt. That's interesting! Great pics!

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  12. It does make sense, I believe I have seen the snow fences somewhere.. Great photos, enjoy your evening!

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  13. thanks for the rest of the story. the images are still pretty.

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  14. Well, I have seen posts that were just resting on the ground and not buried, as you describe, so I have learned something.

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