Winter fencing

This is a story about "pasture fencing" not "fencing the sport." After all, this is a farming homestead. Maybe some day I'll write a blog about the sport of fencing as Kaycee has recently expressed an interest.

Specific details of how the grandfathers kept their cattle and pigs securely in their respective pastures have not been passed to us. I cannot recall a "how to make the perfect fence" discussion between Scott and his Grandpa Joe. I can envision Mamaw Mae walking the fences after gathering & washing eggs; then reporting to Jack who was in the shop forging new barn latches; who would've then had to splice the wire with scraps found in the wooden bin; then they both finally sat down for breakfast with freshly baked bread.

It wasn't long after moving to the homestead, we & Scott's folks spent many hours building the wooden pasture fence to contain our quarter horses brought back with us from South Dakota. When the wooden fence didn't last, we strung woven field fence that has been in place for years. Between the two types, there were always broken boards & rotting posts to fix, holes to be rewired, or tension to be tightened. See tip #4 below.

Field fence is easily smooshed by livestock when curiosity wins them over, under, or through to the other side. Of course the grass is greener on that side; it's acres of hayfield deliciousness! Goats are the worse culprits. Field fence also results in frustration for both human and creature as (1) we'd cut perfectly good fence when horns got stuck or (2) we'd chase them in the hayfield because they were too stubborn to go back through the hole in the fence from which they came.

This was our first winter with 3 strand electric fencing. Since installing it this past Fall, we have been pleased with how well it is working for our needs. Most of the critters by now (even Kaycee) have felt the tingle during their self-taught lessons. They learned rather quickly, through themselves or by observing each other, as now nothing comes within 2 feet of the fence. See tip #5 below.

Now that everyone has respect for the electric fence, Scott & I acquired a false sense of security that all will maintain a safe distance even if we were to lose electricity. However, when the recent weather forecasted 6-10" of blowing & drifting snow, we began to wonder if determined livestock can sense when they can walk right over something that had once been a hinderance from their excursions. See tip #6.

So, without further ado, here are a some tips if you or someone you know is wanting to replace field fence with electric fence:

  1. Before the snow accumulates, remember where each wire connects with another so that you can cut the bottom strand from the other two without breaking their current; OR

  2. After the snow falls, regularly check the fence line to sweep or shovel away drifted snow burying the bottom strand; OR

  3. Best when installing electric fence to invest in electric fence gate handles so that you can easily disengage the entire 3rd strand from just one or 2 intersecting locations; and

  4. Baling twine should continue to be hoarded by a spouse (Scott) for it's amazing "duct tape" qualities when mending non-electric fences, among other things that need fixing around here; and

  5. D i s t a n c e oneself farther from the fence than one thinks necessary so as not to zap oneself (ok, it was me) when stumbling through knee deep snow; and

  6. Inve$t in a solar powered electric fence; and

  7. DON'T be so quick to rid a snowmobile that has hardly been ridden in years as it finally would've been useful checking fences this week!

'Til next time folks!

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