Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘fencing

Real Farming

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Cyndie and I got a taste of the real thing yesterday. We visited George and Anneliese at Walker Farm this weekend. (Renee and Jeff, we waved in your direction as we drove by!) The real farming aspect started before we even reached the highway leaving our place on Friday afternoon.

On a section of one of our county roads with barely a shoulder to speak of, we came face to face with a combine that almost filled the full width of both lanes.

I hoped he was planning to turn into a field, because I had run out of turn-off options, but that rig just kept coming right at us. Moving the car as far to the right as I dared, I came to a complete stop. He moved as far as he dared to his right and squeaked by us with an uncomfortably small amount of clearance.

It is harvest time and farmers are working like crazy to finish before winter weather stops them for the season. Yesterday morning, I started the day before dawn with George, trucking a load of soybeans down to a grain terminal in Savage, MN. That was a first for me, doing a walk around inspection of a big rig, copiloting our way to the terminal, and feeling the cab shake as the beans roared out of the hopper.

We got back to the farm just as Cyndie and Anneliese were finishing up with chores to feed and water the cows, turkeys, and chickens. We were just a few days too early to witness the processing of about twenty Thanksgiving turkeys.

After breakfast, we herded a bull and one heifer onto a trailer to be moved to a neighboring farm, then drove to a different neighbor to pick up another recently purchased heifer. The choreography is done as a means to control breeding possibilities of specific cows.

Sometimes, controlling access is done to avoid breeding, and sometimes it is intended to encourage it. Those separated for the winter may have a chance to meet again in April.

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In the afternoon we walked the fence line to look for a reason the electric charge was being loaded down. We discovered a section by the road that appeared to have suffered impact from a vehicle. After several of the seemingly obligatory walks back and forth to the shed for additional parts or tools, we restored the integrity of the wiring to George’s satisfaction.

We finished in the nick of time, as the sun soon dropped below the horizon. Despite the sun shining most of the day, the cold temperature stung after standing out in it for very long, so we were ready to be done.

That made it all the more satisfying to be inside and warm for dinner, some card games, conversation, and eventually, making music.

We were spending time with friends, but at the end of the day, I had this strange feeling we were also experiencing what it might be like if we added a couple of cows to graze our pastures someday. Could it be, that we were given a glimpse of our possible future?

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Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2018 at 9:00 am

Much Improved

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One of the first things I notice when I come up our driveway is how the temporary fence around the arena space is holding up. I’ve figured out that it is in a spot that is particularly prone to a beating on windy days. Logic would suggest we could solve that issue with a permanent fence, but we aren’t ready for that level of commitment yet. This location is growing on us, but it was far from a certain thing when we chose to mark off the dimensions.

It was refreshing to discover Sunday that we could fix, and even improve the current set up without needing to spend a lot of money. We already had most of what was needed to accomplish adding better anchor posts and getting it connected to the existing electric fence.

IMG_iP1218eNow I don’t need to use the solar-powered fence charger that the horses had taken a liking to nibbling on last fall, and I can still keep them from messing with the plastic posts.

I pulled the webbing tight when I finished on Sunday, and it was still looking great when I got home yesterday, despite a reasonable breeze.

Now all it needs is Cyndie and a horse out there doing some dressage routines.

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Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2016 at 6:00 am

Green Alley

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I didn’t start the day Sunday with a plan to spend the entire day reworking the fencing around our arena space, but that is pretty much how it played out. We thought we were going to make a run to purchase parts that would allow us to finish the new divider fence in the back pasture. After that, we hoped to take a crack at turning some brush piles into wood chips for our trails.

Instead, I started fixing the sad-looking step-in posts we had used to mark out space for an arena, most of which were heavily battered by wind and soft spring soil. That spawned an idea to also put up the short barriers to the hay-field. This creates an alley between the paddock and the arena space, which we can then give the horses access to, saving me the chore of needing to mow it.

The grass in that space is actually further along than in the back pasture, so we adjusted plans and focussed on getting that space ready first. While I toiled away on details to electrify all the new fence webbing, Cyndie made the run for parts that would allow us to finish both the pasture divider and the arena area.

DSCN4665eWhen she got back and I had the barriers done on each end of the alley, we decided to give the horses their first few minutes on fresh grass right then and there, while we finished up a few details on the arena fence. They stepped through the gate in a very mannerly way, spending a few minutes nibbling the first blades available. In no time, they were wandering well into the space, Legacy hanging close to us, and the three chestnuts moving the other direction.

We needed to limit their time on the grass, which involves the challenge of asking them to go back into the paddock. That’s not always easy, but they demonstrated impeccable self-control last night and headed back inside of their own accord, when Cyndie was preparing to set out their evening feed.

Of course, they subsequently showed great interest in both of the main gates we tend to leave open for them later in the season. They were cooperative about coming in, but they were obviously interested in getting back out again soon. They’ll get that chance today, and for twice the time. We add 15-minutes a day during their transition times onto spring grass, up to about 4-hours. At that point, we can leave the gates open all the time, allowing them free choice all day and night.

Lucky for them, the alley grass is plenty green and growing fast, so they have that to start with while we wait for the back pasture to catch up.

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Written by johnwhays

April 18, 2016 at 6:00 am

Future Fence

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Long ago —two years, in fact— I started a project to put up fencing just inside the old rusty barbed wire fence that defines our property border along the perimeter trail through the woods. The bulk of my effort at that time was getting posts in place. I did try hanging some plastic snow fence on a short section of posts as a temporary measure, but the ultimate goal was to re-purpose rolls of woven wire fence which were pulled out during early renovations to create our paddocks and pastures.

In the ensuing two years, that snow fence was revealed to be less than adequate. It failed under the abuse of weather and animals, as it stretched and sagged under the forces of wind and snow, and was chewed through by critters that refused to alter their favored route of travel.

DSCN4026eFinally, yesterday, Cyndie and I took a shot at seeing how difficult it would be to move, unroll, lift into position, and then attach the old metal fence to the posts. It went better than I feared it might and served to provide a more robust support for the snow fence that we put back up to make the barrier more visible for our horses.

Beyond the obvious financial incentive to put this fence up ourselves, what drives us even more is the fact we are willing to put this up without clearing out every growing thing within 10 feet of either side.

There is no questioning the reasons fencing professionals don’t want trees near their work. We are willing to sacrifice the ultimate quality of our finished fence to preserve as many precious trees as possible.

Of course, we only have this one property to maintain. The professionals are responsible for an always growing number of fence lines. I totally understand their motivation.

We have visions of continuing this re-purposed fence along key sections of our property line where the trails come close to the old barbed wire. These areas also happen to have enough trees that we would like to keep, that the project will not be a quick one. It’s likely that it will remain a “future” fence for a long time, but at least we have the first section in place to give us hope that our vision is possible.

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Written by johnwhays

October 11, 2015 at 9:36 am