There are a few things about farming that intimidate me and fencing is one of them. I think it’s the diverse variety of strong opinions about how it should be done coupled with me having no experience to be able to sift through these opinions. “Get a backhoe and dig 4×4′ deadmen for the corners”. “Brace the corners well”. “Bury the posts deep.” Snow loads. Animals leaning over. Animals getting under. “Set the corners in concrete”. “Stretch the wire tight.” Page wire vs electric vs both. Keeping sheep in and keeping predators out. Where to put the gates (how big). Where to put the fences! And all these materials are not cheap and doing a shoddy job can be both a waste of time and money. Frig. It was easier for this one man to ignore the issue as long as possible.
I have survived till now with pricey temporary net electric fencing which is a fine solution and allows for intensively managed rotational grazing (a good thing for improving pastures quickly) but requires constant attention and is fallible. Luckily Harrier Hill is set down a quiet lane nicely back from the road (and surrounded on three sides by dense woods) so the many individual and group “escapes” (some of which may last for days or even the better part of some seasons) are only rarely cause for concern. However, there comes a time, with increasing experience and wisdom (and frustration), that the intimidation must be overcome by the realization that some permanent fencing would be a huge help for sheep and, even more so, shepherd. There would be those who would argue this time should have come some time ago. They probably wouldn’t be wrong.
Operating under the idea that “perfection is the enemy of ‘good enough,’ ” I thought a small trial project the best way to overcome this inertia. Also, uncertainty loves company so I undertook this small starter project with help. The posts were pounded with the help of my cousin Adam and the page wire installed with the help of my dad, brother and niece Edie.
The starter project is a small oval ring, about 100’x40′, using some scavenged fencing materials that were unneeded at our good friend’s Clear Day Farm. The idea is that this would be a low risk project that could be dismantled easily if deemed a failure. I hope this ring will be an training ring for Slipper and I to practice herding and can also be used as a holding pen for animals that need to be temporarily separated (the black sheep?). I also plan to build an alley system leading to this pen that can be used as a sorting/handling system.
But for now… I have a ring.
2015 Fencing plan: 3% successfully (?) implemented.