Suffice it to say, I’ve looked over a great many fence styles and one particular stands out as meeting our needs.  Our needs are:

  • Keep in goats
  • Keep out predators and deer
  • Define boundaries

A fence may encase the perimeter of our land, or it may just house the livestock.  Perhaps a different fence is used for livestock pasture and property boundaries.

Barbed Wire

Barbed wire has traditionally been used for cattle ranches, as these large beautiful creatures can otherwise bowl over anything.  This is not conducive for other animals, however.  Shorter goats can get their lips stuck and torn on the barns.  People can easily be injured.  If you have barbed wire that you want to remove, do so carefully and completely remove it from your property.  There are too many horror stories about curious animals getting injured by barbed wire wrapped up in the corner of a barn or shop.  While some farmers prefer barbed wire, it is no longer the popular choice (and it certainly isn’t cheap!)  We will be removing existing barbed wire and will not install it anywhere.

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Don’t be a dick.  Your job is to protect all life as stewards of the land.

Property Border

The great thing about living rural is that you can ignore your neighbors.  Right?  Mmm… well, that depends on whether or not the previous owner of the property let his buddy Bob use your pasture for grazing, or if the dogs-next-door recognize free space as all theirs.  When you buy a piece of land, you can request a new survey be done on the property so you can see exactly where your property boundaries are.  This is important for more reasons than are worth addressing here, but as the old adage says, “Good fences make good neighbors”.

If you are set on defining your property boundary with a fence, a cost effective way to do this is by installing wire fence.  Different from woven or welded wire (see: Pasture, below) this consists of planting wire posts and running three or more rows of wire across.

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This type of fence can go in easily with a post setter, but make sure to walk your property line frequently since any number of things (wind, cows, determined field mice) can bowl it over.  When you walk your property, make sure to bring gloves, wire cutters or any other materials you would need to repair the fence.  Is it leg day?  Cuz you are hiking back and forth the acres without the proper tools.

Another note: your land is not exclusive of the rest of the Earth.  As much as we love the idea of having something our own, the flowers, fruits, animals, water and rich soil would fail to flourish if not for the cross existence of life from plot to plot.  While it may be tempting to erect a 10′ tall stone fortress (these tomatoes be mine!) that would prevent turtles and salamanders from relocating to our pond.  Think of the critters that can safely cross boundaries to help support wildlife on your farm.  The garden is another story… more later.

Pasture

Goats dictate this fence.  We will need woven wire and grounded posts.  The posts should be set 1/3 into the ground and be 6′ tall from the ground.  Preferably set with cement.  Woven wire should be connected on the inside of the fence.  The purpose of this is so that if animals lean against the fence, the post helps keep the fence up by bracing it.  It also reduces the things goats can climb on.

Pasture will need a perimeter fence, as well as cross fencing.  Cross fencing is separating total pasture area into the number of rotational pastures you need.

Installing Woven Wire

Let’s go over a few basic steps with pictures:

Step One: Dig a post hole with the bottom being slightly wider than the top of the hole.  While the ground doesn’t freeze in the Willamette Valley, in areas in which it does a more narrow top of the hole will help prevent the post from being pushed out of the ground from frost (in combination with concrete).

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Example of how a wider bottom can help prevent a post from being pushed out of the ground because of frost.

 

Step Two: Lay down a few inches of gravel on the bottom of the post hole.  Put post in hole.

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Anatomy of a post setting

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Step Three: Add wood bracing supports so that post can set plumb (level, vertically).  Add concrete around post.

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Attaching temporary supports to make post set plumb.
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Concrete can be made as quick concrete (from a bag) or with a higher mix of gravel.  There is more information out there on different concrete recipes to find what works.

Step Four: Once posts are set, dig 4″ deep, 2-3″ wide trench between all posts.

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Step Five: Woven or welded wire can be purchased in rolls.  Buy rolls that are 6-7′ tall.  Unroll wire and staple/nail to posts.  This is a two person job.  Make sure that the bottom of the wire lines up in the trench so it can be buried.  By burying the bottom of the wire into the ground it helps to prevent digging animals from getting in.

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Burying the bottom edge of the wire can help prevent this.

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Step Six: Continue unrolling wire and attach it to the posts facing the inside of the pasture.  Fill in trench at bottom when done.

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Also, here is a VERY detailed guide for what I described above.

http://www.tractorsupply.com/out-here_2006-fall_build-a-fence-for-your-goats

Protecting Ducks

Ducks are great additions to a garden because they keep out slugs and do some waddling around while grubbing on nasties.  To read more about me waxing lyrical about ducks, check out my duck posts.

Like chickens, ducks also need some protection from predators at night.  Because predators for ducks and geese are small, sly creatures like foxes and raccoons, be sure to follow the same principles with burying the bottom of the wire fencing.  In fact, because canines are natural diggers, it is good policy to bury a foot of wire at a curve, so if they dig on the outside, they can’t get in.

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North Carolina State University extension program recommends burying the wire 6″ and extending underground away from the roost/house for another 18″.

It is also important to consider the animals that can either go up and over, or fly.  Predators like hawks and big owls can take away chicks or ducklings.  Chicken wire can be run across the top and stapled (see picture below).  This enclosure can be opened up to let ducks (or chickens) run around the garden and keep the area well foraged.

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You won’t need to worry about ducks and chickens trying to get out unless you aren’t keeping your home hospitable.  Mostly you will want to consider the critters trying to get in for grown birds, baby birds, or eggs.

Protecting Your Bounty

If you are growing a lot of row crops, such as corn or cabbage, on a large piece of land, fencing your garden may be prohibitively expensive.  However, if you are planning on rocking raised beds over 500 square feet in a wooded area, you might want to consider protecting your garden from deer and rabbits.  These little munchers can raise crops once they figure out you are making it easy on them.

But let’s talk about what can keep deer out:

Extra tall fence of at least 8′-10′.

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Angling the bottom or top of the fence to prevent leaping over.

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You can make it really nice if you have the money

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This is all completely dependent on how big of a space you have, what you need to protect, where you live, and whether it is cost effective to fence.

Gates

A beautiful gate can really make a difference in tying together a beautiful farm space.  However, if your gate has open spaces for foxes to climb through or goats to squeeze out of, that defeats the purpose of your fence in the first place.  Keep in mind the needs of your fence when choosing a gate. Now, great gates:

 

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Photo Credits

Featured Image: fenceworks.net

Barbed Wire: whitewolfjourneys.com

Property border: wikimedia.org

Pasture: 1) Stepgatewayalpacas.com; 2) diystackexchange.com, deckwrap.com; 3) fencespecialists.com, thegreenergrassfarm.files.wordpress.com; 4) handymanagain.com; 5) sq-wiremesh.com; 6) profence.org

Bird House: ncsu.edu; backyardchickens.com; vegetablegardener.com

Garden: houzz.com; afencecompany.com; catfencepvcpipe.blogspot.com; dustbunniesanddogtoys.com

Gates: fenceworks.net; motherearthnews.com; bordersdown.net;

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