Our little slice of heaven has now become a gated community, north Idaho style. We bought a 12 foot cattle panel during the Labor Day Sale at our local farm ranch store. Over the course of weeks, being busy with other projects or just plane worn out after a day’s worth of teaching, I finally installed the first post and set the gate. Our property can now be locked up while we are home or off the property.
Why did we place a gate? Well, after doing some research online, gates are a step up in home security and a little piece of mind goes along ways. I plan to lock the gate when home and away to send the message that we maybe home at anytime.
Thankfully, we have not had many issues with security over the years. In fact, I can only count on one hand that our property had been vandalized or trespassed on. On the very week we took ownership of the property, someone had broke down the front door of our derelict cabin and spray painted racist graffiti inside on the walls and floors. That same week we were also robbed. Several coffee mugs from the previous owner were taken, our steel 200 gallon rain catchment barrels, and the toilet seat off the toilet. Granted all this was left by the previous owner from the sale, but stealing a used toilet seat, that’s just plain wrong. I would have given it away, just to meet the type of person who steals used plastic toilet seats from derelict cabins.
The second invasion was during the first few months we moved in. I woke from a dead sleep at 3 in the morning. Lights from a car were shining into our house from someone parking in our driveway. I jumped up looked out the window and saw a parade of about 3 cars entering our yard. I immediately powered up the house and turned every light on as I made my way to my 12 gauge shotgun. As soon as the lights turned on, the cars immediately restarted their engines and began to turn hurriedly around. I grabbed the keys to our Suburban, with gun and flashlight in hand. The chase was now on. I ran for the door and my wife called out to me not to go, but I said a message must be sent that this land is occupied. I chased them to the easement and stopped at the end of the driveway to watch them race as fast as they could down the road. I kept my high beams on them with the shotgun across my lap. The early morning marauders have never again returned.
The last scare we had was about two years ago. A man drove right up our driveway and parked his car right in front of our house as if he owned the place. He knocked on the door and announced to my wife he was the county assessor. The county never sent us a letter or notification that they were sending someone out that day. He did not show his credentials to my wife who was home alone and he began to take measurements of the house. My wife called me while I was at school teaching and I knew something serious must of been happening at home. I asked my wife to tell him to leave and to state he was trespassing since he did not bother to schedule an appointment to be there. He left. What spooked us the most about that event was the unannounced drop by, lack of credentials presented, such as ID and connection to the county besides a printed business card. I did not know the man and the encounter left me annoyed since I could not tell if he was posing for the county and was casing the place, seeing who was home, if my wife was able to defend herself, what possessions we had, etc. My wife gave me his business card, and I immediately emailed him. I checked the county website for his email listing and questioned him on email and on the phone about his intent and to see if he was really the man who was at my place. After much paranoia and defensive posturing on my part, I invited the man back to my property and explained to him my rationale and the times in which we live in these days. When he arrived, I spoke with him and allowed him to do his job. However, he notified me that a locked gate prevents county employees from trespassing, and they tend to be more polite when they encounter one. I appreciated his candor and I developed an agreeable rapport with him. But, I never built the gate until this fall. I realized I wanted something to replace the front posts announcing the beginning of my property line on the driveway, especially with hunting season rapidly on the way. I had taken the posts down for the road build earlier this summer. When I saw the sale on cattle gates, I decided it was time, and that is the end of the story.
How to install a corral panel as a gate…
- Hand dig a 12 inch diameter post hole, using a clam shell post hole digger
- Insert Concrete 12″ diameter and 2′ long forming tube, level top of tube to ground
- Place 6 “x 6” x 8′ treated post and use 2 stakes and 2 boards to plum and hold into place.
- Pour 50 pound bag of Quickrete Concrete and appropriate amount of water directions on bag. Tamp down with a stick to get air out and to help with mix. Continue process with next bag and so forth until the concrete reaches the top of the form.
- Create a gentle slope in the concrete, so water will run away from the post.
- Measure Cattle panel hinge placement and using a lag screw and special hinge (available at the farm store that is selling the corral panel) for converting cattle panels to gates. I also added a flat and locking washer to the lag screw to help with support.
- Measure gate and hinges to determine a placement on the post that allows the gate to swing freely without dragging on the ground.
- Set gate on top hinge and place wood under the opposite side of the gate to eliminate tension on the top hinge. This will allow time to measure for the next hinge to be set in place.
- Gate is now set. Time to set the next pole. I plan to build a ledge on the outside gate post for the panel to sit on top. This should eliminate the tension on the hinges from the weight of the panel.
Living on the homestead, I have to make this stuff up as I go. I use tricks from the directions on the bag of concrete. I tested the positioning of the gate before setting it by holding it in place to see how high it needed to be. I even make mistakes, especially when setting the concrete. I got over zealous and almost packed the concrete too tight before the water could mix with it. When stuff like that happens, I just had to improvise by tapping a 3/8″x 4′ metal rod through the hardening top layers to the unmixed powdered layers below and and allow the water to drain to it. Then I put a 4″ top layer to cover the holes and created a gentle slope away from the post.