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"Merry Christmas, we broke the fence!"


  11:32:28 pm, by Karen   , 740 words  
Categories: Journal

"Merry Christmas, we broke the fence!"

Someone on another farm blog said, in regard to an accident that put her in the hospital for five days, "I may be too stupid to farm."

I know exactly how she felt.

Christmas Day Ken and I were invited to Ken's manager's house for Christmas dinner with her family. We were there approximately 3-4 hours, and when we got home it was dark. The sheep needed their afternoon feeding (which is normally done in daylight hours) so I went out to do it. We have a light aimed in the direction of the sheep paddock, but by the time you get out there, there's not a lot of light to see by, but just enough so you don't trip over anything. It took me a few minutes to realize there was something definitely wrong with the fence. The dividing fenceline, made from cattle panel, was all bashed up at the end, and this had dislodged the bracing on the main fenceline perpendicular to it. One brace was on the ground, the other was barely hanging on.

Now, in my infinite wisdom, I had thought that if the rams (on opposite sides of the fence) couldn't see each other, they wouldn't go to bashing heads. They had already proved me wrong earlier in December. Our method to provide a sight barrier was to wrap the cattle panels with tarps (see picture below in the "Jake" post). But where the tarps met, an inquiring nose could push them aside slightly, enough to maybe see through with one eyeball. We had already shored up one battered section with a piece of 4 x 8 plywood and reinforced with more t-posts and another section of hog panel.

The section that was newly bashed was not at an area where two tarps overlapped. It was at the end where the dividing panel met the permanent fenceline. The tarp was securely fastened and could not be tweaked out of the way. But apparently that wasn't necessary after all. Just knowing that the other ram was there, on the other side of the tarp, sneering a rammy sneer, was enough to set someone off, and the bashing began.

Imagine, if you will, a welded wire panel, made with galvanized steel "wires" that are about the same thickness as a number 2 pencil. The spacing between the wires is about 6 inches in either direction. Now, step back about 10 feet and get a good running start and slam the top of your head into those wires. Back up; repeat. Continue this while your buddy on the other side does the same thing from the opposite direction. Can you imagine the outcome? Nevermind, I'll describe it. First, you are bleeding from the top of your head (duh!). This apparently does not faze you in the slightest, because you are pumped up on testosterone (ever heard of "'roid rage"?) Next, the wire panel becomes deformed, and possibly welds are broken. The first incident actually resulted in broken welds and broken wire. Third, as the panel was securely fixed to the t-post of the main fenceline, that fence section gets pulled all out of whack and the bracing gets dislodged (we use the Wedge-Lock system, for those who know that that is) and the Wedge-Lock pieces themselves get mangled in the process.

You'd think after the first incident I would have known that this grand scheme of mine wasn't working. Apparently not. So now we have done what we should have done in the first place, which is to put electronet on one side of the fence, about 3 feet away, in effect creating a double fenceline, so that the ram on that side can't get anywhere near the fence and tempt or be tempted by the other ram to start bashing heads. Actually, two parallel cattle panel fencelines 3-4 feet apart would have been better, if I'd thought of it from the beginning. Or to be absolutely sure, I could have had the two breeding groups in separate counties, but that may be taking things a bit far. Oh, and another piece or two of plywood has been called into service to shore up the poor abused cattle panel and provide additional sight barrier, since the tarp at that point had been torn to bits. So far, so good. The sheep on the side with the electronet are not willing to test it. If they do, well, 5000V should be adequate discouragement.

I sure hope so.


Comment from: Lisa  

Oy. Rams. Rams! How’s that holding up for you?

Happy New Year. We really should figure out a place to meet half way!

12/29/08 @ 23:45
Comment from:

So far it seems to be working (crossing fingers). It looks like the ram on the non-electronet side had taken some whacks at the other end of the divider, but not enough to break anything. Probably because Junior Sample on the other side wasn’t able to join in the fun (heh heh heh).

We do need to meet. Maybe Concord?

01/01/09 @ 17:27
Sharing ideas from our small farm in NH, where we raise Icelandic sheep and assorted poultry. We are members of ISBONA (Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America) and the CLRC (Canadian Livestock Records Corporation). We also participate in the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (NH54). Contact us at karen [at] birchtreefarm [dot] com. Please also visit the farm website at Birchtree Farm.
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