Fencing – the never ending project on a cattle farm. New fences need to be built, old fences have to be fixed or replace and unused fences must be removed. On TurkeyCrest farm, we always have multiple fencing projects in progress or on the to-do list.
Last year, we were fortunate to rent an adjoining 25 acre pasture from our wonderful neighboring farmer friends. The farm land is on our side of a small river, or large creek depending on the weather. The bottom acres flooded last summer during the months of constant rain, changing the course of the waterway as trees fell and sandy banks eroded. At one time, cattle grazed and hay was cut on here but this land has stood empty for decades.
Making use of this acreage for our herd began last summer by cutting the fields twice to knock down the weeds and encourage grass growth. By this spring, 25 acres of stockpiled, amazing grass were just waiting for our girls to graze. As soon as the winter weather ended, this fencing project began.
Along the creek and up both sides of the pasture to our existing Mountain field, we ran high tensile, two wire electric fencing. The first task was to drive wooden posts at corner locations, along elevation changes and in areas where extra support for the wire would be needed. Then we added metal t-posts to stretch the wire between the wood posts, and finally fiberglass posts between the t-posts to keep the wires parallel.
Along the wood line was an old barbed wire fence, probably put up in the mid-1900’s if not earlier. The original fence posts were cedar logs, the wire was heavy duty, rusted and broken in many places. Through the years, other farmers had added t-posts and new barbed wire to patch the holes and fortify the line. As the pasture sat empty, new trees grew up through the fence, old trees fell on the wire and deer made pathways over and under in many places. We had to clear and fix this fence line to keep our cattle out of the woods, and to clean up any random lengths of wire laying loose on the ground.
The only chainsaw that I am comfortable using is my “chainsaw on a stick”, a pole saw. I use this 12″ chainsaw to trim limbs, fell small trees and when held horizontal, as a brush saw. This job was especially difficult because the old barbed wire was everywhere, on posts, on the ground and around trees. Fortunately, I managed to clear the line without ruining the chain!
This is a typical fence post along the line of fencing that had to be cleared and fixed. An old fence post, with ancient rusted barb wire next to a newer t-post with new barbed wire run between both. The lowest strand of wire is actually at ground level and unattached to the t-post. Over 1/4 mile of this had to be dealt with before our cows could use the pasture.
Where the trees have encroached along the fence, I trimmed the branches and left the stumps. The oldest strands of wire had grown into the trees so removing them would be difficult. And a tree stump with wire embedded in it actually makes a reasonable fence post. Done.
The final and most complex fencing to be completed before the cattle could use this land was to provide access to the water. We decided to install a nose point waterer to allow the cows to drink but prevent them from lollygagging in the stream.
The cattle take turns, 1 or 2 at a time, to walk down the bank and get a drink of water. Most of the older ladies have experienced these types of waterers, and they show they younger cows how the system works.
The only downside is if (or when) a huge rain storm occurs. The stream turns into a river, floods the banks and the volume of water through this lazy creek will ruin the nose point waterer. All part of farming, and why fencing is a never ending project.