The Lowly Rock Jack


When the ground is too sandy or rocky to sink a fence post, you gotta come up with an alternative. A wire basket filled with rocks is the favored solution around here. Throughout the West there are variations on this theme. Where wood is plentiful, the rocks might be corralled in a square or triangular box.

Different regions have different styles and names for their rock-assisted fencing contraptions. I’ve heard them called rock jacks, rock cribs, or gabions. There are probably more names than that. I like rock jacks. It seems to match their utilitarian nature and appearance.

Most rock jacks are hardly noticed as one speeds past them mile after mile across the rangelands. But there are a few out Steens Mountain way that rise above the ordinary. Leave it to those Oregon buckaroos to jazz things up with an occasional hubcap.