Monday, June 10, 2019

Perimeter it overlooked?

Fiona says she is seeing a lot of things on fencing on the Internet. She asked me to say something about our fencing and why it is the way it is. 

In our area, coyotes, coydogs, and wild dogs are a problem. We have had them come right up to the barn. Hawks, eagles, possum, skunk, raccoons, etc. can also be a problem. The livestock guardian dogs (LGD), should help with the first and second groups. The fence helps with the first group, not so much with the last group. 

We feel nothing will work right if you don't have a good perimeter fence. Temporary fences, netting, cross fencing can not be much help without good perimeter fencing. We had a good bit of barbed wire perimeter fencing when we bought this property. We wanted cross fencing to give us a laneway and workable paddocks. We did it all at once. It does not have to be all at once. We feel if you don't do the perimeter fence first, you will end up just wasting money when you have to redo things or you just have temporary fixes (like netting). The perimeter fencing is a last resort if some goat/cow/sheep/whatever goes for a walkabout that is not on YOUR agenda. What happens if/when she gets on someone else's property or the highway? Think liability. 

We had to put in some new fencing and upgrade other fencing and make repairs on some more. Our perimeter fencing has a low mounted high tensile hot wire for things that like to crawl under fences. About six inches above that is another high tensile hot wire for anyone trying to step through the fencing. And a third high tensile hot wire is about a foot above that one. Our entire property perimeter is hot wired. The entire farm is hot wired. However we have a perimeter fence that will hold critters in even without the hot wires. No’s still secure. The base cross fencing is also secure.

To start with all internal fencing was removed. It was in poor shape. We went with all new heavy, treated wooden posts and double knot woven wire. It is more expensive, but better in the long run. Far fewer headaches for us and less problems with the animals. The hay field is fenced. We put in a laneway and ran the paddocks off of the laneway. Gates provided for each paddock. Some paddocks have two gates (laneway and hay field). Two paddocks have expensive small grid (holes) woven wire. These are for sheep/lamb use so it is harder for predators to get to them. The barn and these two paddocks will be for lambing and calving. All paddocks are "secure". These are even more so "secure". If you don't build it right (to save money), you will spend that money later in headaches and injured or lost livestock. Build it as you can afford it, but build it right. Shortcuts cost more in the long run. 

The perimeter fencing has woods on the west side. We have had limbs and "small" trees fall onto it. A couple of them required a chainsaw to cut them off. None of the wires were so compromised that livestock could get out. Wire was stretched and had to be tightened, but none broke. The interior has few trees to create problems. 

Energizer!!! For a hot wire, you need power! Ours was expensive, but it had a job to do. All perimeter and all interior fences are hot! The animals learn their boundaries real quick! On the back end of the barn, we had a leanto built. I have half for equipment storage and the other half for the animals to get out of the sun, wind, snow, rain, whatever. The equipment side is hot wired. The livestock does not enter there. I hung ribbons, etc. from the wire for easy identification. Several nosey noses got sparked. You could see it jump. It didn't take long and they learned. They will get close, but still keep their distance. The best grass is at the bottom, near the hot wire. Sometimes, they will press the limits and we will hear a bellow up at the house. They crossed the line.
Our energizer came from Premier 1. With the grounding rods, wire, energizer, remote, etc., it was over $700.00. You can go cheaper, a lot cheaper. But, remember, you get what you pay for. We have three wires around the property and all the cross fencing. We have a lot of wire run. At the back, I checked the voltage when moving the animals tonight. It was 5.7 kilovolts. Don't lean up against a live wire or YOU will bellow. We have a high grass load and still have a good attention getter. 

The energizer is mounted in the barn. We have an on/off switch for it mounted on the wall to kill everything. The energizer has an on/off switch, also. We have the energizer mounted up high so the animals, equipment, etc. don't touch it. Hence, the on/off switch on the wall (out of the way). You need a ladder to access the energizer itself. It is out of the weather. 

We could have gone about $200.00 cheaper, but we got the remote control. I am so happy we did. The "light switch" will turn the unit off. The unit's on/off switch will turn the unit off. And the remote will turn the unit off. The hand held remote has metal contacts to touch the hot wire with. Turn the remote on, touch the wire and touch "off" on the remote and the energizer will turn off - from half a mile away or five miles away. You don't have to go back to the barn, do it from the field. I carry it with me all the time. Question? Did you turn the unit off at the barn? Touch the wire and see. Not me! I'm chicken! I take out the remote and turn it on. I touch the wire and I know whether it is on or not. No going all the way back to the barn to double check. I turn it off and do my work near or on the hot wire. And then I turn it back on - from the field! Also, if there is a problem, the remote tells me in what direction to look for the problem. 

I haven't walked around the property checking, but Fiona showed me a bottom wire under grass load near the barn. You couldn't see the wire in spots. The grass was brown where the energizer had fried the grass. What I am saying is: I think the remote is a must for a good energizer. The good energizer and the remote go together! Pay now or pay latter. If you don't get enough power, you won't get the power in your hot wires. If you don't get the remote, you're going to walk back to the barn a lot and/or get shocked a lot. 

For the ground rods, I think it called for 3. I put in 4. I drove them down to rock. They work better in moist soil. I drove them in and hooked them up in the drip line under the leanto roof. Dew runoff, rain, snow melt, etc. keeps the soil more moist and gives me a better connection in dry weather. 

For even more cross fencing within the paddocks: pull out my handy-dandy remote, turn off the power, run a hot wire across where I want it, tie into the paddock fence hot wire, pull out the remote and turn the power back on. Done. I LIKE IT! And no trips back to the barn. No getting shocked. 

From Premier 1: 

Speedrite 6000i Energizer 

Item #119002 | Weight 7.50 lbs 
In Stock

Common Uses
A 110v AC or 12v DC electric fence energizer used to keep out deer, raccoons and rabbits from garden/orchard areas. It is also used to keep in poultry, cattle, sheep, goats, swine, horses and guard dogs. Effective at protecting against coyotes, stray dogs, bear and fox.

Speedrite 6000i Energizer 

Advanced low impedance electric fence energizer offers uncompromising performance and a no-nonsense approach to livestock control.
Dual purpose: can be plugged in or used with a 12v battery.
This unit offers unique power settings with different pulse rates to help conserve battery power and make the fences safer for unknowing visitors. Includes a remote for checking the fence while away from the energizer. Saves time and hassle by allowing fence to be checked, fixed and turned on/off right where you are.

This fence energizer was an investment but it will power all things fenced here, from the critical perimeter fence that secures the farm to any netting or single wire paddock dividers that we decide to use.

The key in our mind however is the perimeter. It is the foundation of pasture and farm management. The craze for simple portable fencing misses the huge advantage of a good fence around your land. It secures your borders so to speak.

We hope this gives you food for thought.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Hens are Endless Entertainment

You know Chickens are underated. I have always enjoyed poultry but now we are around them everyday and lots of them at that. The lifestyle (and it is a lifestyle) we give our chickens is hopefully as close to totally natural as we can get. They are free to go where they want, when they want and with who they want.

Dust bathing and chicken gossip 

Our gardens suffer a bit but have advantages as well. The chicken bug patrol is excellent. A few chicken pecked tomatoes is not a crisis. We wonder if, because they are used to the freedom to forage what they want, the novelty of denuding a garden isnt such a big thing? Today we are in the herb garden getting ready to plant sweet potatoes. I am taking notes and the house hens are with me. They "Choose" to sit with me. Some preening, some just sitting on the grass near my feet. Some are having a nap under the car behind me, but all of them came over to be here, where we are.

Truck Stop and Eagle Eye

One black hen we call 'Sister' has decided to sit by my feet and just settled in as happy as can be. She looks at me, the sky, she listens to the bird above in the bean tree. Then she tucks her head under her wing to nap.


The hierarchy is interesting, we are a part of their flock. The two 'Big' ugly chickens who have good food sources. There are special hens who follow us more than the others. Hippity Hop, she has joined me. She is a Buff Orpington, she got hit by a car and had terrible injuries, including a broken leg. She likes me, her terrible orthopedic surgeon, she doesnt seem to be a bit bothered I set her leg badly and it points crookedly toward her uninjured leg.

Hippity Hop

 Wendy is here, she was very sick as a tiny chick and I saved her. Little Girl, Ralphs pet is here too. They are great talkers and the current discussion seems to be about grubs in the garden.

Peaches, Wendy and Little Girl.

After watching these marvelous creatures gifted to us by God, I cannot help but pity people who have no access to animals and only see chicken as "nuggets, fried or grilled". They just get eggs at the store and never see the miracle of hatching and the amazing care a Mother hen gives her chicks.  Yes we use the extra roosters for our dinner table but we know they lived well and gave us more than just roast bird.

Well it seems break time is over, the girls are getting up to go for a drink. Nap time is done. It reminds me we have work to do.

God Bless and keep you.

Thank him for the gift of chickens and all they bring us.