Just Before

Just before our week of rain, we finally got down to getting that temporary fence put up around the barnyard of the barn across the river. I had taken the fence down during the end of summer when the  small field  needed to be open for the main herd to use the area for grazing. We were supposed to replace the temporary fence in the fall before the wet weather came but it was one of those things that got put on the back burner until the forecast demanded we get the area blocked off before the really wet week would cause the ground to get chewed up by hoof prints of the herd.

The poly tape has many advantages. It is very flexible and can be repaired easily by simply tying a knot and hooks to metal t-posts by plastic insulators. The whole fence can be set up or removed without too much work or hassle. The white tape is easily seen so the herd does not mess with it once they know it carries an electric charge. It is also easy to see if the elk have stormed through and created downed or broken wires that need repair. Putting up the fence or taking down the fence and storing the pieces does not require heavy gloves or fencing pliers.

The disadvantage is that the wire is not very heavy and does not last for decades as does barb wire.

With a day filled with a lot of small jobs, the fence got the t-posts replaced, insulators clipped, the poly wire restrung and the gate closed with the portable solar electric fence unit charging up the wire. The herd was not upset at all that they could no longer cut through the small field to get to the outdoor round feeders. After the first couple of hours all the cows including the three nearing weaning age were walking the rocked road as the path around the blocked area.

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What Was I Saying?

A couple of days ago, the story about the electric fence dangers and handy tips, was not what I had planned to write. Somehow, the story took a direction of its own and you heard all about the all the ups and downs of using electric fencing. Then we had the first snowfall of the season and the story for the next day revolved about all that entails, now I think it is time to get back to the original story that I had planned to write…

It begins with the small, solar powered electric fence unit attached to the barn across the river. Since it is on the other side from our power grid, there are no electric services on that side of the river, that is why we use solar power to heat up the fences where they are needed. Anyway, this one unit charges the fences in this area. Continue reading

Good And Bad Ways

There are good ways and bad ways to test the zapping strength of an electric fence. Many of the bad ways are found out the hard way by trial and error or by slipping as you are stepping over the said fence.

I vividly remember using a shovel handle to hold the wire down while stepping over a fence, the wooden handle doesn’t conduct electricity and all should have been good. Except for the wire slipping down to the metal cuff near the blade that was touching the ground and I got the full shock of the fence several times before the realization of my error. Continue reading

The Temp In The Back Of The Field

Electric fence in fieldFencing has been the big priority over the last couple of weeks. Elk damage, storm related breaks from falling tree debris, and basic maintenance has been keeping us busy. Anytime that it is not raining, we are out along the lines securing areas for the cattle.

This temporary electrified fence across the back of the hay field has several purposes,

  • Creates a barrier to keep the main herd out of the hay field until the grass is ripe enough to cut for hay in June (the hay field is on the left, grazing area on the right).
  • The sweeping curve of the fence cuts off the more challenging terrain of the field including old stumps, deep impressions from decaying root systems and a large swamp/swale area (avoiding obstacles that damage or sink hay equipment).
  • Gives an extra five acres of forage area for the main herd while the hay field is out of commission for forage.

Once the hay has been taken off the field, the cattle will once again have access to the area and will be in charge of cleaning up the corners and any hay bits that remain after harvest. I call them my four-legged gleaning crew.



Careful, Your Crooked Is Showing

Much like a line of demarcation, the space between here and there should be straight. Or at least that concepts that our minds are comfortable with. Straight arrows, fence posts smooth as clock ticks to the cars that drive by, gardens growing in formation, the list can go on and on.

On the farm, the landscape changes between dry areas, low wetlands, razor-edged embankments, steeply grooved canyons with river banks, with slopes, dips and curves everywhere. Yet, there are times when a straight line would work well. It seems that at just that moment, the direct route can be lost in the shuffle of trying to accomplish just that task.

A temporary electric fence runs through the middle of the hay field for the cows.I happened to notice our “straight” temporary electric fence that runs through the pasture that will be our hay field in a couple of weeks.

The cows munched all the foliage as they walked from the barnyard to the other pasture area and our straight fence just isn’t what I thought it was.

I blame it on the terrain.

Path From Barn Yard to Pasture

Two men and a dog on a Gatorteel fenceposts used to create fence through field.With the assistance of our right hand helper, Mike and Jackson set steel t-posts through the field for the temporary electric fence.

The fence will keep the herd from wandering through the grass that is growing for hay scheduled for late June and July.

The steel posts were the hardest part of putting up the fence. The wires that will be hooked to a small solar power unit are smaller round than a shoe string. The white string is plastic with thin, electricity conductive wires woven in. The herd is familiar with electrified boundaries and these strings are enough to keep the animals where they are supposed to be.

The wires are easy to drop to the ground in case the Gator is needed to travel cross-ways to the other side of the field for mole and gopher trap setting while the grass is still short enough for that task.

The path between the fence posts is wide enough to drive the Gator through. When we open the gate by the barn the cows run down the new path to the next pasture. When I use the word run, I mean it. I had to really scamper along to keep ahead of the herd in order to open the gate at the bottom of the path. They could easily break it down in an attempt to get at the next batch of fast growing grass.

Missing Power

We had gotten the fence put up in the back of the big hay field. This temporary electric fence is used to allow the main herd to graze in the small field in the back of the big field. This small field gives the herd a water source for drinking, a pasture area with grass growing for grazing and  access to the hillside where they can meander under the tall firs during inclement weather.

The control box for a solar powered electric fence.We have to electrify the fence to keep the herd out of what was the nursery field so the grass can grow and be harvested for hay in late June.

There is no access to commercially supplied electricity so we use these portable solar units to charge the fence. However, after sitting all winter in storage, this unit did not work. The problem was the battery, it would not take a charge.

The batteries from these units are recycled, the purchaser pays a ‘core charge’ for the battery when bought. We took in the battery from this unit to get the ‘core charge’ of $12. that was used to purchase the new battery. It cost seems a little excessive, but it guarantees that the batteries are returned for recycling rather than landing up in a landfill.

Once the new battery was installed, the fence was checked and there was a good current flowing through the fence. Not anything strong enough to hurt and animal, but strong enough to deter them grazing on the wrong side of the fence.