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Barbed wire fences given new roles in contrast to first usage

WORTHINGTON -- I was wondering the other day just how wealthy the guy that invented barbed wire was and who ended up with his very vast fortune?

I would venture to guess that there has been enough barbed wire sold in the United States to reach to the moon and back 500 times. This invention has been erected in every corner of the earth that I have had the opportunity to visit.

It doesn't matter whether you are in the forests of northern Minnesota or the in the Florida Keys -- this livestock tool is everywhere. This was a result of the fact that just about everywhere had cattle at one time or another. In this day and age cattle producers have been able to provide us all with the high quality beef that consumers -- including myself -- want, but are able to do so on about 2 percent of the land that they used to use as grazing pasture in southwest Minnesota.

Almost all of the barbed wire fences in my neck of the woods are now used as property boundaries guarding rows of corn or beans. I am really glad that these fence rows still exist, as they do provide a little nesting space for meadowlarks and similar birds. It is amazing just how a 30-yearold barbed wire fence can still do an excellent job of tearing substantial holes in the coat of the normal hunting dog.

Its these boundary areas that pheasants really like to hang out in and this puts hunters and their dogs in the same vicinity. In the years that I have seriously hunted these birds I have probably had 7-10 opportunities to have a dog stitched up by a vet. Most of the incidents have not been serious, but a few have, and there is no way to completely avoid them.

I spent some time this summer removing the wire on a fence that borders a property that I hunt all the time. This work was done with the land owner's approval and turned out to be a much more exhausting task that I had anticipated. Taking down the wire was not difficult until you reach a spot where the wire is covered by as much as 2 feet of soil. We used an ATV but in some spots we had to tie the end off to my Chevy truck to get enough horsepower to achieve the desired result.

When you're done you then have a pile of almost unmanageable wire that I was glad that Shine Brothers still wanted. I had great satisfaction when they scooped up that load of nasty wire off my trailer and I was sure that that would be one spot that I wouldn't encounter a need for stitches in the future. I left the posts for the most part and they work great for attaching bluebird houses and other structures for nature's creatures.

I have reached the point where I can do some of the more minor dog repair work by myself with the help of a very modern but simple stapler. This is not a tool for everyone but they can make successful closures if you become familiar with their operation and have a dog that will lay still enough to allow you to work on them.

It has taken a hundred years to erect all the barbed wire in the country and will probably take twice that long to take it all down -- but one tiny section at a time it will happen. If you have ever had one of your hunting buddies bleeding from a big cut caused by barbed wire you will take comfort when you are out in a spot that someone has taken the time to remove all the barbed wire that is no longer keeping cattle in their place.

When it comes to barbed wire my motto is, "use it or loose it". I'm sure that anyone who is lucky enough to hunt your land would be more than happy to pitch in and help.

I know that I would.