Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jack fence

We had to take down the old fence around our "Back Forty" paddock when we built the extension. It was in the way. Later I put up temporary fence, but once the grass began to grow over the old excavation scars, it was time for permanent fence.

But the old one had given us so much trouble over the years, falling or being knocked down by sheep, especially rams, that I knew I needed a better design. A couple years ago we hit on the notion of using "cattle panels" for ram-proof fence, so we knew that these could hold up to the head butting that rams like to do. The panels get distorted after repeated hits, but they don't give.

Then this last winter we noticed that if the fence was tilted a little, the ram couldn't get a good run-up at it. He trips over the bottom wire before he can hit higher up with his head. Added to this consideration is the fact that our ground is rocky and that in many places bedrock or what Mainer's call "ledge" is right at or just below the surface. One idea led to another, and I came up with a fence design that used two cedar poles and cattle panels, seen above, a variant on the traditional western "jack fence." I had to drive to Levant, Maine, to get cedar posts, for two bucks apiece, and had quite the struggle to find cattle panels, but eventually everything was ready.

It sure goes up easily. On Sunday I built a couple hundred feet of it in a fairly short time space, about six hour's work.

Today we moved the sheep into the paddock to graze. They seem pretty happy with the new arrangement. The grass is fairly lush, having been give chance to grow.

The only unhappy animal was the ram, Shawn. This time of year he's in his own pen, where he'll stay until breeding season. The rest of the sheep used to be in the next paddock, and so they could "talk" through the fence. It was enough to stop him getting lonely. Now his buddies are gone.

I gave him some greens from the garden, but it was no consolation. But they'll be back before dinner time.

The garden is just getting into full production. We now get fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and basil daily. carrots and potatoes are there for the digging. We are making plans for kraut.


All seems to be going more or less as planned, and the to-do list is nicely whittled.

Now, when's that baby due?

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