Electric Fences

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The first electric fences were invented in 1936-1937 by New Zealand inventor Bill Gallagher. Apparently, he was irritated at his horse using his car as a scratching post. I remember seeing some of the porcelain insulators that Dad used on our dairy. The insulator had a hole in the middle for nailing it to a post. One miss whack and the insulators were history.

In 1962, another New Zealand inventor, Doug Phillips, invented the non-shortable electric fence which could be used up to 20 miles. When these improved electric fences that used a plastic insulator first came out, several farmers in our area embraced them.

My Dad and one of his friend’s J.B. Enlow were great fans of the new and improved version. Dad also used pieces of wire to repair or hold equipment together instead of duct tape.

One day Mr. Enlow was visiting our farm. He had his rubber boots on and was leaned up against a post by the bull lot. He and my Dad were busy spinning their usual yarns as they normally did when they got together. The kids surrounded them taking it all in.

One of the dogs decided to check out the smells on Mr. Enlow’s britches leg. ZAP! Mr. Enlow jumped and ran one way thinking the dog had gotten hold of his leg, and the dog took off the other way thinking Mr. Enlow had gotten hold of him. The rest of us jumped out of our skins. The electric fence was running along the top of the posts to keep the bulls from jumping out, and J.B. had his hand on the wire. He wasn’t grounded until the dog decided to take a sniff.

Mr. Enlow owned property on Frankfort Road next to the property Dad was renting from Johnny Gattman. He used the electric fence around his pastures to control areas grazed by his cows. Part of each property extended up in the mountains. This was during the time the county was dry, and the mountain area wasn’t good for cattle grazing. It was full of cactus, rattlesnakes and moonshiners. The moonshiners were the reason one stayed off of the mountain; they didn’t take kindly to anyone wandering near their still.

Remember the moonshiner, Hollister, shooting at Andy and Barney? One morning Mr. Enlow’s cows were out. He checked on his electric fence and found out a two-legged animal had gotten into it. One of the moonshiners was hauling two of the large water cooler glass jugs full of shine out of the mountains back to town in the middle of the night.

Apparently, the moonshiner didn’t see the electric fence and ran into it. The zap made him drop both jugs and all that shine flowed into the ground. He got so mad that he tore down the fence from one end of the field to the other.

The cows on the other hand were happy for a few days.

Locally, farmers are still trying to get corn planted. We are expecting three inches of rain this weekend. A few fields dried out just enough to get the planters in. Normally corn would be up by now. Probably only about 10 percent is in the ground. Winter wheat, however, has taken off with the warm spell.

Dogwoods are in bloom, but a hard freeze bit the blooms, so very few are pretty this year. Iris and peonies are just starting to bloom. The feed store in town received a nice shipment of GMO free heirlooms. I picked up my usual Cherokee Purple, and also a couple I haven’t tried before, Old German, and Orange Oxheart.

Since we still had cold weather possible, they went into quart containers. We had freezing weather last weekend, so they were moved into the garden. Yesterday they went back out into the driveway. The first of the week, another cold spell is predicted, so they’ll make one more trip into the garage. In about a week, they will go out into the flower beds along with squash and peppers, as it’s been too wet to plow the garden up.

Bluebirds are building nests. I checked some of my fourteen boxes, and three already have eggs. In one box, the eggs are white instead of the normal blue.

Hummingbirds have returned. I saw my first one March 26. I have three feeders up, and plan to put up a couple of more next week.

The Hooligans have been fairly inactive. Blackie and Patches are limping in the front shoulder, and Levi is limping on his back leg. A couple of stray dogs invaded their turf. Just as Levi’s leg starts to get better, he gets excited about eating supper and runs to the back garage and re-injures himself.

Photos property of Mary Carton.