Fencing: not the swashbuckling kind!

One of the fundamental requirements for farming is the necessity for keeping livestock in and other animals, particularly preditors, out.  Kind of a simple proposition really, and one that is often glossed over with discussions about the other requirements for raising livestock.  “We’ll put fences there…. Let’s make a paddock here….. We’ll rotate the ewes through here in winter and put the rams in there”.  Grandiose statements, and necessary ones for sure.  But the rubber hits the road, or perhaps more appropriately the shovel hits the dirt, when you are faced with a perimeter of almost a mile and the pretty drawings you have made about how you will divide up the pasture into workable paddocks.  Then reality sets in and you remember with some fondness the tractor and auger that we had previously and which did NOT make it to Pennsylvania.  At this point you regard the steel bar and manual posthole digger with more than a little trepidation, and begin to wonder if we should buy stock in whomever manufactures painkiller pills!

The photograph below illustrates these grand plans, created with unrestrained enthusiasm borne of equal parts ebullience, anticipation and ignorance.

markup of satellite image

So after a little research and thinking about what we did on the previous farm (of happy memory) in Connecticut, we settled on a fence of 6 strands of high tensile 12.5 guage wire stretched to approximately 250 lb tension between heavy corner posts with a series of other posts to make up the intermediate space.  Heavy “H-braces” are supporting the 6 wires, and we are using wooden posts at curves and deep dips for the same reason.  A combined tension of about 3/4 of a ton is nothing to take lightly!

One interesting feature of this fence was the “new fangled” Pasture Pro composite line posts (From Kencove Farm Fence Supplies) which are the thin white ones that you can hopefully make out in the pictures below.  These are very lightweight and flexible, but they are enormously strong vertically.  So as long as they are there to separate the strands, and not have to support any curves in the fence line, they seemed to be worth trying out, as they are fairly easy to put in and are completely resistant to electric current, making any “grounding out” of the fence charge on line posts a thing of the past!  Time will tell if this experiment was a success or failure.


So, having put in the posts around the house and down the driveway, we are currently about 1/10 done – and that is just the perimeter fence line!!  Still, as I just said to our neighbor, it is the journey that counts in farming.  If you always want to reach the destination, you will always be disappointed.  Farming is a job that has no end, and for that we are thankful.

In that regard, please note the patch of bare earth adjacent to one of the gates we put into the fence line.  We have planted our garlic to over-winter there, hopefully to be the first fruits of the new Morning Star Meadows Farm.  And on the same theme, as well as completing the other 9/10ths of the perimeter fences, we have to do all the interior fences,  sort out a watering/irrigation system, build a chicken coop, plow the rest of the garden, plant an orchard, buy our starter flock, and a myriad of other things that are all ongoing, like continuing to home school the brood and support our son who will be moving to Washington DC soon and 2 daughters in college for nursing!

So, as you see, things are rarely boring here on the farm, and if you are interested, we’ll continue to show you our progress.  If you are in the neighborhood, drop in – “take yer shoes off and set a spell.”  And if you feel like skipping the local gym and getting the workout of a lifetime, I am sure we can fullfill your desires!

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