OT: Need some suggestions

Alright, long story short.

My wife and I bought a new home in 2020 that is just outside city limits. House was built in the early 80s and existed far outside what was developed until about 20 years ago. A few months after we moved in I found some barbed wire around the perimeter of the property which I just thought was odd at the time. Found some more last fall and then today, with a couple inches of snow on the ground, I was able to locate a bunch more that was sticking above the snow. Clearly, we have an old, collapsed barbed wire fence that is half-buried along at least the backside of the property. With 2 young kids and a dog that loves to run, I'm a little worried that this could lead to a big problem down the line if not dealt with now.

Any suggestions on how to deal with it? My current thought is to get a metal detector and just dig it all up over the course of a weekend or 2, but does anyone have any better ideas?

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Where you can see it pull up a bit out of the ground / litter and wrap with chain. As many strands that you can at a time. Yank it out with a car or truck. Should strip it right out.

Even when you get skunked; fishing never lets you down. 🎣

Unfortunately, there's not much of a chance of getting a car or truck to where it is. That said, the longest segment I've found so far was maybe 10 feet long due to rust, so I'm not sure how effective that would be if I could.

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Unfortunately, it sounds like you're going to have some tedious weekends in front of you. Always do this type of work in the winter before the flora limits visibility and tangles it up more. Get thick leather gloves, some landscaping ground flags, and a roll of vinyl flagging ribbon. Find and mark what's left of the posts and establish your lines. Try to determine how many strands there were. Start at one end and scrounge around in the leaf litter getting what you can. Get a small pair of bolt cutters or large pliers that easily cut it. If the posts are in the ground good, you can make a leaver with a jack stand/log/etc and a 2x6. Wrap a chain or good rope around the post and 2x6 make the fulcrum as close as you can to the post to maximize your lever arm. If the roots keep them from come up (assuming metal) bend them back and forth to break them off below ground. Use a heavy hammer or sledge to drive the part still in the ground deeper to protect feet. You can try and roll up longer strands; it will be easier to dispose of. Otherwise fold it up and put them in large plastic contruction trash cans. Or rent a small metal dumpster. Get your tetanus booster first. Sorry for the stream of consciousness post.

Here's the thing, I can't find any posts where it was originally attached. My best guess is whoever did it just wrapped it from tree to tree, a few decades ago

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That is very possible. Or they were metal U-posts, rusted at the base and fell over and are partially buried. Or they were wooden and rotted away a while ago.

I would skip the metal detector. You would have to turn off the ferrous discrimination and at that point every old nail, staple, broken off part of a farming implement, or small bit of wire is going to set it off. You would rip your hair out during the first 30 minutes. You could use it after the main effort to locate large bits you may have missed, but it just depends on how "clean" the ground is. If you have a nice machine you could play with the settings and tune it to your purpose. But it wouldn't be my first strategy.

Also, you could consider using a leaf blower to lightly clear the old fence lines to help you see the wire's path and any small pieces that are on the ground. Just don't crank it too high and blow the small pieces away with the leaves.

I really don't believe that my property was used for farmland. We're on a fairly steep hill that really isn't suitable for cultivation. Lots of stone an inch or two under the topsoil.

Problem is that I have 2 and a half acres in a right triangle shape (hypotenuse side being the one with the wire). I have only found enough wire so far to stretch maybe 5% of the total border, but I've found it in multiple sections to lead me to believe it does go the length.

And when I say its been there a while, its also corroded pretty badly, and snaps in half without much twisting.

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Unfortunately, there's not going to be a great way to get rid of wire that breaks that easily. Aside from just digging out that whole area... it's going to just break off anytime it's touched. I tore out an old fence row when I built my house. That was done in 2016. I still find pieces of wire every time I work up my garden.
If it's really worrysome, I'd build a new fence on the same line. Doesn't make the problem go away, but the kids and critters will be less inclined to run through the area.

Old barbed wire will last for an extremely long time!!!!!!!!
Maybe the back of your property backed up to pasture land? The barbed wire predated the electric fence, and possibly was wrapped around trees with the occasional post here and there in between.

Like offered above, grab a metal detector and thick gloves...and good luck. Or, hire a landscaping company to clean it up with telling them fully up front. Do get to it before the weeds and ivy start creeping over it. With the winter we've had, things are going to pop in the spring and be thick over this.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Maybe, but I highly doubt it. We're in one of the hilliest parts of Raleigh and my property borders an easement at the bottom of a small (50 ft or so) valley that is a creek we've been able to find on historical maps of the area. I'm not too worried about anything growing over it, as weeds really just don't take over this area like they did in our previous house (except for some bullshit japanese weed (not kudzu) that is a bitch to get rid of). I'm mostly just concerned with it being camouflaged in the leaves and someone literally stumbling over it.

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So if they went tree to tree itll be easier to find the lines. Look on the trees for three or 4 scores between the ground and 4 foot up the tree where they had the wire buried into the bark. Should make it easier to pin the locations of where the fence should be and use that to start your search. Depending on the amount you might look into where your local scrap metal dealer is or if its really rusted to crap just find a local dump to take them old stuff to.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Aside from paying someone else, taking the pointy ends of a pick axe and carving a shallow 3 ft trench every 2 ft or so across what you think was the old fence line would be a thorough way. Hopefully it's not so rusted that it might still come up in lengths if you pull it. This guy's suggestions are pretty good though, when I worked building fences as a college summer job we would use a come along and a pipe to pull up the old posts and concrete balls.

I am not sure what to do with my hands now

A better thread title? Otherwise, the only thing I got is make sure everyone's Tetanus shot is up to date.

That was going to be my suggestion as well. I would pull it up and toss it as you find it. But don't stress over it. If it is that rusted, it isn't likely to cause big problems unless you are trying to mow over it.

"With 2 young kids and a dog that loves to run, I'm a little worried that this could lead to a big problem down the line if not dealt with now."

Agreed. You need to teach chores to the kids at an early age or they grow up to become spoiled brats, or worse, wahoos. Don't know how you expect the dog to help though, perhaps you should be a little more realistic in your delegation.

Ring Design Chair

You can train a dog to do yardwork


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My kids are absolutely welcome to go to UVa or UNC or any of those other schools. But they are being raised to know they are and will always be Hokies, and that's something to cherish.

Also, they can move themselves in if they go to those schools. 😁

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I hear ya, although my blue devil wife may not feel the same way about allowing our children to go to UNC.

Ring Design Chair

Same suggestion as a couple mentions above - wrap what you can around some wood and pull. Find the lines and put down some markers, either stakes or paint (like the kind the utility company would mark for where not to dig) so you know exactly where to dig and pull up.

Sucks, but hopefully you're talking a lot that's no more than an acre.... and wear some proper leather work gloves while you're doing this... make sure you're up to date on your tetanus shots too before you start any of this.

Have you thought about moving? /s

Put up fresh barbed wire for the impending zombie apocalypse.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

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Pay somebody else to do it

I am not sure what to do with my hands now

No suggestions other than to say I agree with your intuition. I had a dog that cut themselves on some old discarded barbed wire once. Definitely get that removed.

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So I have had some time to think ...
1) wrap yourself in bubble wrap and roll around until you hear a pop.

2) FOIA request for all historical aerial photos from the USGS to see if you can find where the fence one was

3) put Klogs on your kids and dogs so they will just get the barbs to stick to their shoes and you can pick it up then

4) Get 5 or so kegs and 40 of you most competitive acquaintances, get them drunk have them play capture the flag in the dark, they'll find it.

5) pay the neighbors kids to find it, kids work for cheap

6) rent one of these

4) While I haven't had exactly this scenario, per se, I have been drunk around old barbed wire (hell, you don't necessarily have to be drunk) enough to know this is fact.

If you play it, they will win.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used." -The BoD

2) FOIA request for all historical aerial photos from the USGS to see if you can find where the fence one was

I believe you can view historical satellite images on Google Earth

Or maybe someone in GIS on here could have access to historical aerials.
(Paging others...I don't have access to NC stuff, but if it was Del or Maryland, could maybe find something...)

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Ive used historicalaerials.com many times for work. Free to look, $ to buy/dowload. Also...some of the other options suggested by others are good, but if its rusted to the point of easily snapping i'd say you may be screwed short of excavating the whole fence line a foot or so. My only other thought is one of those giant magnet cranes they have in the steel scrapyards. /s

My wife takes the kids and leaves the house while I watch my Hokie games.........nuff said

Borrow a garden tractor with a cultivator attachment. First, I'd try Musky's advice and try to pull it out lengthwise, since corroded wire will be strongest lengthwise. Drive the tractor straddling the buried wire, so wire "loops" coming out of the ground and your pull is effectively up (not away from the buried part......pulling against the length will just break it). Second, for the rest, try shallow plowing perpendicular across fenceline with the cultivator. Be sure to overlap tines to break up the soil well. Last, rake thru the loose soil with a garden rake to uncover what is remaining.....a metal detector could help in this stage. Good luck!


While I can't offer a plan of attack that hasn't been mentioned above, I would suggest you use these gloves. We had them in the Army whenever we dealt with concertina wire and they work phenomenally!

ETA: You may be able to find a single pair elsewhere, I doubt you want 10 pairs lol.

"War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.”~~Judge Holden

I'd recommend talking to Sunbelt and seeing what it would cost to rent a small mini-ex for a weekend and then just start pulling it out of the ground. Make sure you've got an up-to-date tetanus shot and some sturdy puncture resistant gloves. Make sure to call 811 before using the mini.

You may find more and more junk digging there. Someone very well could have just buried a bunch of garbage with heavy machinery instead of taking it to the dump. I saw some old roofing shingles showing out of the dirt in my backyard and found out they never ended while trying to dig them all up.