Sunday, December 01, 2013

Coyote Fence Variations

Weather: Snow has been melting, aided by an inversion that trapped the heat; last snow 11/24/2013; 8:29 hours of daylight today.

What’s still green: Juniper, arborvitae and other evergreens, cholla and other cacti; leaves on Apache plume, roses, fern bushes, Oregon holly, German iris, yuccas, garlic, hollyhocks, winecup mallow, Saint John’s wort, vinca, coral bells, Dutch clover, sweet pea, bouncing Bess, cheat grass.

What’s red: Coral beardtongue leaves.

What’s grey or blue: Four-winged saltbush, snow-in-summer, pinks, golden hairy aster leaves.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia.

Animal sightings: Some sort of gray bird, smaller than a robin with pear shape, perhaps a young dove or pigeon.

Weekly update: When I drove north last week looking for coyote fences, I realized I would be lucky to find anything old. Wood is perishable.

Construction techniques suggest the farther west of the Río Grande, the more traditional the methods. Around Ojo Caliente, where people erected fences to protect their privacy and property from tourists, fence posts are lashed to wooden rails or existing fences.

In Taos, the posts are nailed, sometimes to boards, sometimes to logs. It’s faster, and thus cheaper, if you’re hiring someone to do the work.

In Taos, the posts may be uniform in diameter and closely spaced,

or widely spaced and irregular.

The choice is aesthetic in Taos, where irregular fences are associated with the "real past." Scarcity of wood before trucks may have driven that fence, not preference. A few years ago, a woman who was getting ready to move to family land near Canjilion, north and west of Ojo, said she was laying out the posts to ensure they were as tight as possible. That was the mark of a good fence.

Many fences that appear irregular are tall. The bases are closely spaced, but the tops taper into irregularity. They are the ones most likely to have irregular heights. The bottom is intended to stop intruders, the top to discourage leapers.

The greatest variety in construction techniques appears around Española. One that probably dates from the early 1950s has posts tied, one by, one to guy wires.

Another has a wire looped around each post to secure them against barbed wire.

Everywhere, it’s still possible to find ad hoc fences built in the spirit of the originals, the ones that gave them the name associated with individuals living outside the established community.

1. Route 96, 20 November 2013. Rail fence, with posts lashed in area near house. Beyond, particle board shelter with lean-to log roof.

2. Española, 21 November 2013. Tree corner post with posts tied to guy wire cable.

3. Ojo Caliente, 20 November 2013. Original wire mesh fence with horizontal log along top and lashed posts.

4. Taos, 21 November 2013. Posts nailed from front to large-diameter log rail.

5. Taos, 21 November 2013. Same fence as #4, closely spaced posts, sawn to an even height.

6. Taos, 21 November 2013. Irregularly spaced, narrow posts nailed from back to horizontal boards.

7. Ojo Caliente, 20 November 2013. Same fence as #3. Closely spaced, narrow, tall posts.

8. Rancho de Taos, 21 November 2013. Rail timber upright, notched to hold horizontal logs. Posts nailed from the front, closely spaced at base, tapering above.

9. Española, 21 November 2013. Same fence as #2. Posts individually tied to cable.

10. Española, 27 November 2013. Barbed wire fence with posts attached with loops.

11. Española, 20 November 2013. Barbed wire fence probably existed when a gas station was built next door. Bark board and logs were placed against and nailed to diagonals on one side and horizontal boards on the other.

12. Española, 20 November 2013. Close up of #11.

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