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Gates


I have a lot of gates.  I was walking the other day and decided to count them.  Thirty-one.  THIRTY-ONE!  I knew that couldn't be right so on my next circuit of the property I counted them again.  Yes, I have 31 gates.  That counts the electric gate at the front, all three gates into the back yard, all the barn gates and the pasture gates.  Wow.  That's a lot of gates.

Gates are generally open or closed.  I know that sounds simplistic but it's true.  If you want a gate open, it needs to stay open and if it's generally closed, you may open it to get through but you always close it again because it's supposed to be closed.  Here is the gate rule.  If you come upon a gate that's open, leave it open.  If you come upon a gate that's closed, make sure it's closed after you go through it.  There is a corollary - always sit in the middle of the front seat of a truck.  That way you don't have to drive and you don't have to get the gate.   But I digress...

All of my livestock related gates have a chain with a double snap at the end. 

The gates stay closed once the snap is attached to the gate or fence.  Even Jazz, Peggy's oh so smart Welsh Pony can't get these gates open.  Jazz has been known to open his own gate and then run around and open all the other gates he can to let all the other ponies out for a play day.  It happened once at a horse show.  It scared the daylights out of several horse owners who arrived early only to find their horses' stall doors standing open with no horses in sight.  Fortunately, the show barn staff figured out what was going on and corralled all the horses in a large arena.  No injuries and no horses out on the road.  A good thing.

It's keeping gates standing open that has been a challenge for me.  Sometimes the design of the fence provides the answer.

Sometimes the uneven ground will hold the gate and keep it from swinging.

For the rest of the gates, something needs to hold the gate open.  Cinder blocks work pretty well but they are heavy and difficult to move around.  My friend Nancy, who has goats, has a great gate holder for her front gate.  It's a 3 pound metal coffee can full of cement with a 1 inch diameter PVC pipe sticking up in the center.  The pipe is a great handle and whole thing is heavy enough to keep a gate from swinging shut but still easy to move around.  Cool.  I described this neat contraption to my daughter and asked for several for my birthday.  Katy is very handy and totally creative and I figured she and her husband Tim could figure out how to make me some.  They did. 

The perfect base, the three pound coffee can, is no longer available so they found some small plastic buckets.  They put the PVC pipe in the center and filled the buckets up with cement.  I thought they were wonderful in the beginning but soon realized some problems.  They are very easy to move around but not quite heavy enough to do the job.  The base is a bit too small so they end up falling over.  Sometimes this isn't a problem but sometimes there is enough room under the gate for it to swing shut right over the small bucket.  The plastic bucket was degraded by the heat and cold and sun and broke into very sharp shards.  We needed a new plan...

This has turned out to be an iterative process.  You try something, check it out, give it time to succeed or fail, then tweak it a bit and try a new design.   The second attempt arrived as a Christmas present for me this year.  The bases are wide so they won't fall over and the PVC is attached to the rebar in the cement so it won't come loose.  The outside edge is just paper so will fall apart into non-dangerous mush.  Unfortunately, the base is so big it's all I can do to move them around enough to get those gates I usually want open closed. 

I think the next version will use the same paper tube as a form but with less cement so I'll be better able to move them around.