Building Autumn Hill: Fence Me In, Please

We’ve been following along with Katie Murphy and her husband Roger — who just won the Amateur Groom Award at the USEA Convention! — as they build their dream farm in New Hampshire. Today, Katie is talking all about fencing. Feel free to send any questions to Katie at [email protected].

We have fencing!

From Katie:

Aside from price, there was one sole requirement I had for every property we viewed: land. Specifically, 10+ acres of unimproved (not built on) land that applied towards New Hampshire’s Current Use taxation. Current Use allows for the unimproved land portion of the property to be greatly reduced in value for tax purposes. In other words, the additional land may cost you more up front, but you will save thousands on your tax bill. I am a proponent for land conservation,  and the privacy and protection that land offers. You can always build – but you can not create more land.

Good quality land was hard to find in our price range.  Often the acreage was wet, wooded, or of poor quality for turnout purposes. When we drove up to Autumn Hill Farm and my eyes stretched to see the end of the massive, established hay fields, I had a hard time buffering my excitement. Visions of horses grazing, galloping in European-style paddocks, happily whinnying when we returned home danced before me. The land was truly exceptional. To reiterate a previous note, I don’t know how we were so lucky to find this property.

Once the ring was underway and we were under contract for our barn, I researched multiple fencing companies. Fencing is not cheap. What became increasingly frustrating was the inability to receive quotes on pricing and a timeframe for installation. In an era where the up and coming generation expects a return phone call within minutes, a text response immediately, or an email within the hour, efficient response time is not a courtesy – it has become an expectation. Then, as if magically, a friend suggested I contact Crowe Fence and Decking. Mike Crowe exceeded our expectations. When he said he would give us a quote within 24 hours for several fencing options, he did. When we arranged to meet at the property to discuss the fencing materials and lay-out, he was on time – in fact, he was even early. I was shocked. And thrilled.

We considered split rail fencing for the convenience and reduced cost compared to other options. However, our concern for safety and the longevity of this substantial investment were of utmost concern. We chose the high density polyethylene (HDPE) product by WindRiver Fence. Started in 1984 by Mike’s brother, Rick (who continues as the Owner and President) Crowe Fence and Decking has been a New England dealer for WindRiver since 2007, and they have had excellent results and reviews from their clients. This product is very popular down south, from Kentucky through Texas, and is rapidly becoming a favorite here in the north. Why do we love this fencing? It is the safest product on the market.

It will not chip, splinter, flake, shatter or break like PVC. Under pressure, the fencing with either softly bend to adsorb the pressure and then return to its original position, or it will pop out using the safety releases for each rail. And, it comes with a 20 year guarantee. I am particularly excited to know that I will never have to go out in -20 degree weather and repair fencing again. Due to expenses, I prefer to buy youngsters. When you have a youngster, there is bound to be adventure, aerodynamics, and accidental destruction. So next time Garth jumps out of the paddock, or a client’s horse is hosting a kick-and-spin party, we can rest assured that we have a safe product to help contain their exuberance.

Mike helped us design the paddocks. He was respectful of my sensitivity to maintaining the aesthetic value of the property. We talked through ideas, concerns, and long-term goals while Mike kindly guided us through design and use. The only detail Roger and I could not agree on was fencing color. Crowe Fence and Decking offers 6 different colors – I wanted black, Roger wanted white. I love the subtlety of dark fencing, quietly blending with the landscape. He loves the classic New England look, whereas I see white boards stained with mold, dirt and rain water. Roger promised that he would wipe down the fencing to keep it pristine. Really? We agreed on black.

Mike’s team installed 1100 feet of fencing in a matter of days. There was ledge in areas, which they efficiently handled with a drill, metal rod and cement. They were so pleasant, even when the Puppy Trio exploded from the house barking and with raised shackles to evaluate their progress, everyone was smiles and laughter. I was very impressed with their efficiency and attention to detail.

We chose tubular metal gates, and Mike suggested the 2-Way Slam Latch for ease and convenience. Two silver gates lead to the paddocks out the rear doors to the barn, and are hidden behind the structure. The pastures are large, and we plan to split each field in two for four total paddocks. We have dark metal gates for those pasture entrances so there is no contrast with the fencing.

We hope to fence in the large field directly behind the house, splitting it into two long European-style paddocks. Our hacking and gallop path borders that field and stretches toward the current fencing and around the riding arena. We have beautiful, old growth grass and lush landscape. We are excited to see how the property unfolds in the spring!


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