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Keeping the Cows In (and Out)

One thing I’ve realised, as a stock keeper you spend an unseemly amount of time thinking about fencing.

In a former life, fences were simply a delineation between one back garden and another, or even better, an opportunity to spend someone elses money on something more beautiful, resilient and unique than the ubiquitous larchlap panels which abound in cities, towns and suburbs.

William Cobbett was as usual quick to point out his general disapproval of this trend back in the 1830, writing in his Rural Rides: ‘This is the first time since I went to France, in 1792, that I have been on this side of Shooters Hill. The land, generally speaking, from Deptford to Dartford is poor, and the surface ugly by nature, to which ugliness there has been made, just before we came to the latter place, a considerable addition by the inclosure of a common, and by the sticking up of some shabby-genteel houses, surrounded with dead fences, and things called gardens, in all manner of ridiculous forms, making, all together, the bricks, hurdlerods and earth say, as plainly as they can speak, “Here dwell vanity and poverty.”’

But I have digressed…

I suppose all this thinking about fencing could be the result of our novice status as stock people. And the scary stories of bulls escaping (not ours, other peoples) and getting to our heifers. Eeek.

Or the other possibility of our heifers escaping and getting to a neighbouring bull. This wouldn’t matter so much (apart from their tender years at the moment) if our heifers weren’t from a rare(ish) and small breed about which you can read here if you’re interested.

So, a pairing of a Limousin (huge and French and next door) with one of ours would result in a calf far too large. Cue vet visits, scanning, abortion.

Sometimes, when they are not eating, which admittedly is rare, Belita, Lucy and Mary-Rose patrol the boundary mooing plaintively. I’m not sure if this could be a sign of bulling (in season) or that they are a bit lonely and would prefer to be with the big herd next door or simply that they are saying hello.

Traditional English Hereford Heifers by Hedge

Anyway, since the leaves have been falling it has exposed a few gaps in what seemed like an impenetrable hedge. In an attempt to ward off curiosity turning into boundary crashing, yesterday I put up the electric fence along some of the more vulnerable areas while we wait for the fencer to come with a post driver (an exciting bit of kit which I was going to link to wikipedia, but there is no entry, shock, horror). I hope they have learnt to recognise it, their eyesight isn’t great apparently.

Limousin x through the hedge

Hmm next doors cattle very curious

Electric Fence Pigtail Post

A Pigtail Post for Electric Fencing

Electric Fence with Reel

Electric Fencing Wire on Reel

Traditional Hereford Cows

Let’s hope it does the job

Incidentally, the BBC programme Wartime Farm has been really enjoyable.  In tonights episode I discovered that electric fencing became widely used from 1939 when a portable battery pack was launched, even though it had been invented in the 19C.

We’ve also got to do the back field as there is so much grass there and we need to have it grazed soon before it goes too rank. And then there’s the corral for catching them in. I’m hoping that once all this has been achieved my thoughts might turn to other matters….

Like…I think something is LISTENING

Tree Ear

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. That is a very pleasing tree ear.

    October 24, 2012
    • What’s that?

      October 24, 2012
      • The bloody great ear on your last picture.

        October 24, 2012
      • I meant ‘what’s that?’ as in ‘eh?’ as in I can’t hear!! Obviously the intonation is required…:)

        October 24, 2012
      • Ha. The downside of online chat. Unless we resort to massive yellow winky faces 🙂 x

        October 25, 2012
  2. Oooh… the EAR!

    October 24, 2012
  3. Grass gone ‘rank’ – I love that! And these cows! Future burgers or daily milk? (sorry, need to catch up here)

    October 24, 2012
    • Well, these three will be the mothers so they won’t get eaten. The milk will be for the calves.Their male calves will be castrated and we’ll raise them for beef (maybe we shouldn’t name them…?). Their female calves will be sold on as pedigree breeding stock once they are weaned. Actually this is the only downside of owning a bull, you can’t keep the heifers…but apparently he throws a lot of male calves anyway.

      October 25, 2012
  4. Fencing remains a constant concern for all farmers everywhere; our acres of electric fencing gives us endless headaches. Some of the cows aren’t too cooperative, either; we were raising a heifer who made escaping an art. She would jump over, crawl under, break or squeeze through any fence, to such an extent that she was quickly dubbed Mavuguvugu (“jumper” in Zulu). When Mavuguvugu eventually returned to her owner, she continued her tricks, and still does to this day. We’ve had a few other escapees, but she retains the title of best bovine showjumper this side of the Equator!

    October 26, 2012
    • Fellow fence thinkers all over the world, I feel better now 🙂 I wonder if Mavuguvugus calves inherited the spring in her step…a whole load of jumping cows….

      October 26, 2012
      • So far Mavuguvugu has only had bulls, so we haven’t met them, but I guess we’ll soon find out 😉

        October 27, 2012
  5. We did away with the fencing between the house and the first paddock…now we want a goat… and our fence back! Sigh…back to the drawing board…

    November 25, 2012
    • We want a goat too! A little one, that doesn’t make too much mischief!

      November 28, 2012
      • A goat that doesn’t act like a goat…;)

        November 28, 2012

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