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Pastures, Paddocks and the Buffalo

| 5/27/2015 3:15:00 PM

Robert PekelJoel Salatin, a sustainable farming guru, recommends dividing a pasture into smaller paddocks. The purpose is for cows to intensely graze the first paddock then move the cows to the next paddock. This technique builds a healthy pasture by mimicking nature much like the buffalo herds moving across the plains. Smaller paddocks are recommended for only a few cows, and even smaller paddocks for only one cow, which is what we have.

 I’ve been kicking around the idea of an electric fence to create paddocks quickly, easily and economically. It was time to try it. I thought I could just show up at the farm store and purchase what I needed. Wrong, there is a reason for the old saying, ”A job well planned is a job half done.” Thank goodness for Willis.

Willis, a wise old farmer, who happened to be working at the time, could see I was drowning in indecision. He threw me a rescue line with his experience. This kind gentleman educated me as to the differences in chargers, which set me to rethinking my needs. I knew I wanted a solar-charged fence, but that was about it. The original plan I had drafted in my head had some faults. Actually, it wouldn’t work.

So I laid out my paddock design on paper, for Willis to see. He patiently explained the various essentials needed to make it work properly. The devil is in the details. Electric gate handles, for example, I didn’t even know they existed.


So, home I went, with a bagful of goodies. I had fence wire, posts, insulators, and a ground rod system. I hadn’t decided on the size of energizer to use, but left with the determination to do my research. I set up the posts and ran the lines. To my delight, this was much easier than barbed or woven wire. Electric fence posts are more than a third cheaper than T-posts, and they don’t require a driver. I found I could make a gate with just a rubber gate handle for less than $5 versus $60 for a metal gate. I also did not have to worry about the nasty experience of getting wrapped up in barbed wire.

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