Is the Fencing Done yet?

The most common thing people seem to ask me lately is, “did ya get that fencing done  yet?” <sigh> It takes a little while to fence, and cross-fence, fourteen acres! But, I’m making good progress, I have two sides of the first pasture done. Here is one line of fencing, this is along the driveway easement that Neighbor Nick uses (pasture is to the right of the fence):

Fence along driveway.

I find that most time-consuming aspect of fencing is planning. It seems to me that it’s really critical to think through your fencing carefully. I have a CAD drawing of my fencing plan, and I change it frequently as I go. I’ve visited and worked at a lot of farms where the fencing wasn’t thought-through. It really affects the flow.

I find that if you drop something, or want something, on the other side of the fence, it’s a real pain to have to walk 1,000 feet to get to a gate! I was at a herding trial last weekend where a duck got lost through the fence, and we realized there was really no way to get back there to catch him–no gates to the external lot at all! And unless it’s a wood fence, you can’t climb over without damaging the fence! Being able to comfortably drive trucks and tractors through gates is also important. And, being able to graze almost every inch of your land is nice, as it cuts down on the amount of mowing a human being has to do! So, even driveways can be fenced, and flash-grazed, for maximum efficiency.

Since I’ll use the dogs to move livestock, that adds extra consideration. A gate that opens into a corner means a dog is going to jam livestock around your feet, and make it hard to open the gate. Gates that open only in one direction are inconvenient if they open opposite to the flow of livestock movement or if you are trying to gate-sort animals. It’s also nice to have an alleyway where you can squeeze livestock into a Y-chute to trailer-load them. Mostly, when making plans, I just thought about daily flow, where we would be going to and fro, where I’d be bringing in feed, and where I’d move animals on and off the property.

I also had my farm planner from the Conservation District, Bobbi, review my plan. She had a few tweaks, mostly on gate size, to make sure that the flood control district guys can get in with big excavators to dredge the ditches. She also advised buiding the fences as close to the ditches as possible, so the excavators can reach the ditches. Here is a tiny version of my plan to give an idea of what it looks like. The far-left pasture is the one I’m working on now, I may change the others as I get more experience and think about them more.

Pasture fence plan

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