My grandfather, Claude Alexander, had the job of "riding fence" in the 1920's in south Texas at a ranch along the Rio Grande river. I'll let him tell it:
I was young, you know, just a scrap of kid, with no family or nothin' and I got this job ridin' fence down at this big ranch along the Rio Grande. It was a big outfit, so big that it took me two days to ride it. I'd ride out one day, stay at this little shack, and ride the rest the next day. I'd do this three times a week and then have Sunday off, you see, except for takin' care of my horse and tack and all.
My job was to make sure the fence was good and see to any head of cattle I came across that seemed to be in trouble or anything. Damn fool things were always gettin' their head stuck in the fence or something. I'd carry a roll of barbed wire, some pliers and hammer and fence tacks and a little axe and all and I'd fix up any spots in the fence that were down.
Sometimes a post would go bad or a cow would rub up against it and knock it down or whatever and I'd have to fix it up. If some cattle had gotten out, I'd have to try and shoo them back in. Sometimes I'd have to cut a new post or maybe just move the fence a little and use a tree as a post or something like that.
Once in a while, some Mexicans would come across the river, cut the fence and herd a few head back over the river. If I saw that, I'd tell the folks back at the house so they could tell the sherrif. I don't know as they ever caught any of them though.
I had the little shack fixed up real nice. I had me a fryin' pan and some flour and a bed with some blankets and such. There was a little kerosene stove and I'd make biscuits and I did pretty well for myself.
It was lonely work, but I had a good dog and my horse and, in those days, that's all I needed.
This is a true story, by the way, not an attempt at creative writing