Pasture Fence Project, Part One

Reader Contribution by Keba M Hitzeman
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Not going to get very far without fencing and posts!

We have a good-sized pasture south of our barn that was our main horse pasture. Once the horses were gone, we would graze the cattle in there to keep the weeds down. After selling the last of the cattle, that area pretty much went to seed. I would bush-hog it once, maybe twice, a year, but it was left to grow a fantastic stand of asters, hemlock, various sunchokes, burdock, pokeberry, grasses, and clovers. Indeed a wild area for the pollinators to visit and the rabbits (and other assorted wildlife) to live. Once we got the sheep and the goats, I wanted to use this pasture as part of their winter forage area. The only problem was that the creek runs through this pasture on its way to the river, and the part of the creek that goes under the fence is in a bit of a ravine, making it hard to sheep-, goat-, and dog-proof against escape. The solution? Run a dividing fence to keep the beasties out off the creek and still use over half of the pasture for grazing. Sounds simple enough, right?

The project fell to the bottom of the Project Pile since we didn’t need that area immediately. Once we separated the youngsters from the main breeding flock, it became a bigger deal – young animals eat a lot, and we needed all the grassy areas we could get! T-posts, sheep fence, and a fence stretcher bar were purchased. I waited until the hot and humid days of summer were over, I dug out the fencepost driver and cable ratchet (also known as a “come-along”) from the barn, and I set to work.

Fence stretcher bar – note the nice attachment rings!

Setting fence is hard work but is a pretty straight-forward activity. When working with a fence you need to stretch (like field fence or sheep fence), you need to have brace posts at each end to help support that fence. I wasn’t looking forward to setting wood brace posts, which involves hooking up the fence post auger to the tractor, drilling each hole, setting the 6″ wood post, attaching the crossbar. But if that’s what we needed to do, it would get done. However!! At the local supply store, we found a nifty-sounding system called “Wedge-Loc” that uses t-posts to create the braces. They come in 90 degree and 60 degree versions – I got one of each because I have a wood post where the new fence would tie in to the existing perimeter fence. After getting them installed, I’m pretty happy with them. I don’t know if I would use them with cattle, but with a few sheep and goats, I think they will hold the fence just fine.

In the next post, I’ll get down to the business of setting fence, and explain  what we did when we hit rock!

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