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View taken from inside split-rail correl.

The Old Gate Post

There are two features about the ranch that really stand out in my memory. One of them
is the split rail corral still in use after more than 125 years and the other is the rock fence
around the lot at the barn of about the same age. The fence is about 2 1/2 feet thick and
8 feet high with no mortar whatsoever between the rocks. Over the years some of the
rocks have fallen off and had to be replaced, but all in all the fence is just like it was
when it was built over 100 years ago. This story is about the rock fence at the lot.

Several years before my uncle passed away he told me this story. One summer when he
was a teenager, sometime around 1915, he and his parents were visiting his uncle at the
ranch. While there his uncle offered him a job for the next week. Since he didnít have
any work lined up at home he took the offer. It would make him a couple of dollars extra
spending money and help with books to start back to school.

It seems that his uncle wanted him to dig a post hole. Well, it shouldnít be much to that,
he thought. So Monday morning he showed up bright and early, ready to get that post
hole dug and collect his money. But it didnít work out quite that easy, he didnít finish
the post hole until the following Saturday morning.

The post hole that my uncle was to dig was for a gate post at the old rock fence at the lot.
The lot was built on a hill top overlooking Buckcreek which flowed nearby. The ground
in this area was solid rock.

My uncle was to dig the hole 5 feet deep and set a bois díarc post in it. A well seasoned
bois díarc post would outlast a cedar post but bois díarc was very scarce
on the ranch and seldom used.

The only tool my uncle had to dig the hole with was a steel bar about 5 feet long, 1 1/4
inch in diameter and pointed on the end. By repeatedly lifting the bar and dropping it
against the rock he could chip off a little of the rock at a time, then get down on his knees
and clean the chips out of the hole by hand. This went on all week. By the end of the
first day he already had several blisters on his hands which had burst and this just slowed
him down more the rest of the week with the sore hands.

My uncle said that this was one job where he felt he really earned his money. After that
whenever he was offered a job he always found out what the job consisted of before he
would agree to accept it.

My uncle left this life several years ago, but that post that he put in as a teenager many,
many years ago is still standing and the gate still swings from it. I think the gate has been
replaced several times over the years, but the post is still as solid as it ever was.
Something to remind me of my uncle each time I see it.

The old gate post and rock fence as they appear on the ranch today.

View from outside split-rail correl.


Reccomended Reading
Texas Tales, Jokes & Anticdotes
Johns Poetry Corner
Over The Backfence
Farm Life