Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Value of an Excellent Auger

                I have often been accused of being easily entertained.  I think that being easily entertained is a great gift and not an indication of a simple or feeble mind, but  then, I will let you decide.   People in the country, myself included can get very excited about watching things that might not hold the same fascination for urban dwellers.  For example, I loved watching the well drilling truck come and dig us an amazingly deep well. I was incredibly grateful for the well driller who enjoyed explaining everything he was doing, right down to why he selected where he was drilling, and what type of soil he was passing through, and why we had all those gray rock shards when he finally hit gallons of water.   Installing farm gates and fencing is no less life changing, but it can also be darn hard work. Watching a farm take shape and become more utilitarian and more comfortable to run is no less exciting.
                My first experience with digging a deep and narrow hole came in the installation of a mailbox in our first home,  in a place where the prior owner didn't have a mailbox.  I used a post hole digger very similar to the one below, and it was darn hard work, especially in the rocky side of the road.

This may be an ergonomic and durable post hole digger, but the only way it approaches perfection is to come with a highly muscular ranch hand with very significant upper body strength.

                When we moved to our first farm and needed fencing, my poor dear husband knew no other way than to spent his weekends with the post hole digger placing deep holes for fence posts for gates and fencing for the animals.  At first he seemed to increase his own upper strength, and he seemed to get quite a bit done. However he also tore his rotator cuff doing it.   Then we found that if we carefully marked where the fence post holes should go, that our older kids and their friends were pretty good at continuing, albeit slowly and in the very rocky Virginia clay.
                 Four years later, when the original farm had skyrocketed in value and in taxes, and we chose to move on and redesign the farm keeping the features we loved best, one of my largest concerns was that we would have to refence it.   Because we were under the gun in terms of time, we chose to hire some people to help us with many of the tasks there, at least initially.   They did not waste time using a mere post hole digger.
These are some of the tools our builders and contractors used.

This is the Earthquake post hole digger
     The Earthquake Post Hole Digger is designed so that a reasonably sized human being can hold it and dig holes for most fencing, except corner posts which frankly need to be larger than this machine can do.  Still this makes short work of something which took us weeks to do, the first time around.

                      Later, while discovering all the wonderful farm implements which attach to the tractor, we found an auger bit.   These are wonderful, but do need to be compatible with the type of tractor you own.

                       You could purchase an auger bit designed to work with your own tractor, such as the one below.  This is how people with large farms continue to gradually fence large areas over time, and install multiple gates to boot.   Much of our farm is forested, and so only a percentage of ours actually has fencing around barns and outbuildings.

     The item below is the item my husband would prefer I buy prior to considering the Apocalypse pony I have had my eye on.  He thinks that the item below would be far more useful.

This is a:


One man operation, tows at legal speeds. includes quik-attach tow-bar w/ adjustable ball coupler.

System also operates class II popular HTMA hydraulic tools.

Used for fencing, sign erection, general digging among other uses.

It is equipped with a Honda GX 390 13.0 HP 4 cycle gasoline engine w/ oil alert.

Includes a 12 inch diameter 42" long auger bit.

Has pin for connection.

Unit digs up to 4 ft
Maximum drilling torque is 276 ft / lbs @ 8 GPM @ 2000 PSI.
Forward and reverse drive
1 3/8" drive shaft hex connection.

              My reason for devoting a post to augers is that whatever type of job you have to do, there is an auger designed precisely for that.   Make sure that before you buy or rent an auger than you do some research on what they can do.  Also make sure that you call whatever version of "Miss Utility" you have in your state or area to make sure you are not doing damage when digging to any underground power or other structures.    If you are a small wristed person, like I am, or you are a person with a prior history of a repetitive motion disorder such as carpal tunnel syndrome, then the vibration of one of these tools should you use one that needs to be held, is going to exacerbate your carpal tunnel syndrome.  In that event, it might actually be wiser to hire a man with an auger for a day.
            Remember also that you can own a fairly ordinary piece of land, and then fence or gate it, and make it much more desirable for resale because you have substantially increased its utilitarian possibilities, kept dogs inside, limited the intrusions of people and other animals to your garden, and enhanced general security.

This is one of our prior posts on fencing which might interest you:


jambaloney said...

nice post (no pun intended ;-)

if we had a lot of fencing to do, i would at least rent a hand-held. i did know that you could get one for a tractor, but like you said, it has to be compatible... do you have a tractor?

i imagine your husband is biased due to the torn rotator cuff, but that is just me ;-)

mind you, i might be dumb enough to just use a shovel, so maybe i am not the best authority !!

cheers jane!

DFW said...

Hey Jane,

We have the first two picured above. The manual one works well in our sandy soil at our City House but the 2nd one is what we use in the clay at our Country House. Invaluable tool!

JaneofVirginia said...

We have one at the top of the page which is orange. I like it because it's an older one made in the USA when garden tools still were. I bought a large auger today to enclose one of the fields we wish to place livestock in. I think they really are invaluable tools. Thanks for your comments !

JaneofVirginia said...

Jam, We have two tractors. One is in an outbuilding having a tune up and a hydraulic fluid change. The other one maintains our farm roads here. We do have field attachments, but do not have an auger. Also, for corner posts we need a really big auger, which I think would be too large for the tractor. With the torn rotator cuff, I think he is just a little sick of farming, and this was probably why he had such a good time in NS when the hardest thing I had him do was run the vacuum cleaner !

Taylah Roberts said...

Nice Blog!!! Thanks for sharing information. Best Post hole diggers is fantastic it digs through hard clay like a charm.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you for adding to the discussion.