July 22, 2011

Fencing the Buck Browse

Our property had no fences when we bought it. Well, that's not entirely true, there were rusted away remnants of field fencing and barbed wire along the property lines in the back woods, and along the ridge between the chicken coop and Fort William. Since it was always our intention to have animals, especially goats, fencing has been the one of the biggest projects we've had to tackle so far. (Tearing down the chimney runs a close second.) It's also one of the most expensive, but fortunately, we can buy what we need as we go along.

We had absolutely no experience installing fences when we started. Our first bracing assembly was accomplished by me reading instructions out of a library book, while Dan did the actual labor. It was slow and awkward. We now have four areas fenced, and have come a long way since then!

The latest fencing project is what I've labeled "buck browse," on our master plan...

Click for a closer view

Goats love browse, i.e. any vegetation that isn't grass.

Surprise and her twins, photo taken in June,
before the twins were weaned

In fact, they'll do anything to get it, and ignore perfectly good grass in the process. Fencing the woods will give them that, in addition to pasture.

The first wooded area we're going to fence, for the Billy Boys, will utilize fence we've previously put up, so will only require three more legs.

Clearing a path for the fence
along the back of browse area 

We started by clearing a path along where the fence line will go.

First section up. This is a view from the back of the buck barn.
Another gate will go at the bottom.

Next the posts and braces are put in, and lastly the welded wire fence is attached, 100 feet at a shot. (For details, tips, and what we've learned, click here). We debated about whether to put the fence smack dab on the property line, or several feet on our side of it. The original fence appears to have been on the property line, so by moving it a few feet in, we don't have to take the remnants of that down. Plus, we can let everything grow there, and since the goats can't eat it down, have some visual privacy.

It's been hot and muggy, so this hasn't been a fun job. Plus the woods are downhill from the front of the property, so there's little air circulation there.

The bigger job though, is yet to come. The very back of the property, where the point of the triangle comes, will be a chore to fence. It's very overgrown in some spots, i.e. brushy, plus there are a lot of downed trees that will need to be cleared. It's the larger of the two wooded areas, and perhaps can be subdivided even more. No matter what, I say it's a job to save for winter, when we have better visibility.

Once all the fencing is done, we'll have 5 or 6 areas secured for the goats. That will give us the ability to rotate them through these areas, which is good for pasture and forage management. Plus, it will keep the neighbor's kudzu from completely smothering our property. Even then, our fencing project won't be be done. Indeed, it will never be done. Once we finish putting up fence, our job will shift to maintenance and repair! It's just one of those ongoing projects.

Fencing the Buck Browse © July 2011by


trump said...

those goats are a trip,lol. Richard from Amish Stories.

Nina said...

When we had goats, they not only ate every leaf on every tree and shrub they could find, but then they started stripping and eating off all the bark from the trees and shrubs they could reach, killing a lot of them. If I'd known, I'd have fenced off the trunks, but that was then.. It's nice to have rotation space and grazing land.

Mama Pea said...

Having good fences makes having animals on the homestead so, so, SO much easier. The animals stay happier, healthier and where they're supposed to be! But there's no doubt that getting up enough fencing is expensive and hard work. And as you've said, then there's the maintenance!! Good fences are lovely to behold, don't you think? They give off such a sense of security and orderliness. Yay for fences!!

Leigh said...

Richard, never a dull moment with goats. :)

Nina, ours eat bark too! We're hoping to be able to rotate frequently so that they don't kill off everything in the woods. I just hope it works out.

Mama Pea, fences really do make the place look like a farm. :) I definitely feel safer with the fences. Not for my sake, but for theirs.

Renee Nefe said...

I hope the Billies appreciate all the hard work you're doing for them.

Lynda said...

I too am always increasing my fencing. I save a bit of $$ and it goes right into more fencing. I want to be able to rotate animals every two weeks in 8 different parcels...at the moment I have 4. I love all the work you have done.

Eleanor @ Planned Resilience said...

Wow! I am really impressed with all this work you are doing. This was a huge accomplishment. How long did it take you to put up the fence?

Leigh said...

Renee, I know they'll enjoy it, but I doubt they'll give us the credit for it!

Lynda, that's an excellent goal. I hadn't thought about the timing on rotation, but 2 weeks sounds like a good starting point. I suspect the grasses will grow faster than the browse are though.

Eleanor, it is a lot of work, but it feels good to get it done! We can't work on the fence every day, because of Dan's work schedule. The first one took months (took a break for winter) and we've been working on this one for a couple of weeks I reckon. Dan finished driving in all the t-posts today, and hopes to get the rest of the wire up Monday. Then it will be gates! And then the Billy Boys can have at it.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

Congratulations on tackling another leg of your project.