January 30, 2018

Pasture Access from the Goat Barn (Fencing)

Good progress on the goat barn means looking ahead to moving the girls in. The new barn isn't connected to any of our paddocks, so we have to consider how they will access pasture with the ability to rotate them. Below is the area under discussion.

Overhang on the back of the barn highlights the area needing fence.

The existing original fence is now in pretty bad shape. This was our first fence, built in the summer of 2009. We used cedar posts which are now pretty loose in the ground and welded wire which isn't the best option for livestock of any kind. Bracing cross members have decomposed quite a bit too. Sections of the fence were temporarily taken down to pull logs up out of the woods, so the fence is in pretty poor condition in general. Since it's time to re-do anyway, so we may as well re-do in an accommodating manner.

We've spent quite a bit of time discussing options, and this seems to be the best plan so far...

Black and green are existing, blue is proposed.
(The current goat barn will become the workshop.)

We'll fence the sides of the loafing overhang and then extend it to the workshop on one side and the existing pasture fence on the other. As you can see, the proposed enclosure will be t-shaped. Gates will enable us to determine where the goats can graze, and also allow access to my permaculture hedgerow between these two paddocks. (It was put in about a year ago, but will be extended all the way to the fence corner.)

Fencing and pasture improvement are two of our most important goals for this year.  The plan is to finish the goat barn and then get to work on these. We'll start right there at the barn.


  1. Always making work for yourself! - lol - Looks like a good idea, though.

  2. Gorges, "work smarter not harder" has been my motto for a long time, but sometimes it takes a lot of work to get there, LOL.

  3. Cedar fence posts that lasted less than a decade? That is unheard of in these parts. We have some cedar fence posts on the farm that are probably as old as I am that are still pretty solid. I wonder if it is insects causing them to decay prematurely? I suppose it could be a soil type preventing inadequate drainage as well. It would be interesting to know what caused the early failure.

  4. Very smart to plan ahead for the most efficient use of fences and gates instead of doing the work and regretting for years. ;)

    For my chicken pen I used recycled cattle panels (to keep the dogs out) and chicken wire (to keep the birds in), but I didn't have anywhere near the distances you have to enclose.

  5. Hi! Looks like this will work well for both you and the goats. Nancy

  6. Good planning. So much more can be accomplished with some kind of plan, and not just acting on impulse. I think that's why you are getting so much done around your place.

  7. Ed, the heartwood is still in good condition but the outer layers have rotted away. We do have clay subsoil which is probably a factor, but also these were Dan's first fence posts ever, so he didn't fill with concrete or gravel. That probably has a lot to do with it.

    tpals, thanks! We've tried to avoid reworking by planning ahead. Most of the time it works out!

    I find cattle panels make very good fence, and I've tied other kinds of fencing to ours too, to keep smaller critters from slipping through the panels. Works very well.

    Thanks Nancy!

    Phil, that's very true about impulse versus planning. Having a plan especially helps when other ideas pop up. Referring back to the master plan often shows us why a new idea won't work!

  8. Virtually everything up here on the mountain is made of wood. Now, after thirty plus years, I spend a lot of each summer replacing and repairing. I can sympathize with you.

  9. Keeping the fences up is a constant chore, isn't it? And every herd seems to have one or two rebels that will find the weak spots, work their way out, neener-neener the rest of herd while they graze on the good stuff, then bawl like the world is ending when they can't get back in!

  10. Harry, it just seems to be a fact of life, doesn't it? We are long overdue for some fence repair, but with the barn going up it made sense to wait to accommodate it.

    Mark, you've hit the nail on the head! A lot of our fence damage was caused by our pigs, and also by a Kiko buck we used to have. He would hook his horns in the fence and work it by pushing and pulling. He made holes in several places. Those were repaired, but are also part of the reason I don't recommend welded wire anymore for livestock.

  11. Fencing is so important! Mine is in need of some sprucing up, too, as I had a llama that felt everything on the other side was better than what was inside the fence. He managed to stand on, push out and generally trash sections of fencing. I may be getting my cow (she is due for retirement) and need to have sturdy fences!

  12. Seems like we replace or repair fencing every year. I hate fencing.

  13. Susan, I didn't realize llamas could be so destructive! You may recall that I had a young one quite a few years ago but he pretty much ignored the fence. It only takes one boisterous critter, however! Congrats on your cow! Does going into retirement mean no milk for you?

    Mrs. Shoes, a necessary evil! Although I'm just as glad for what fences keep out as keep in. :)

  14. Leigh,

    Nicely planned out with using the gates and existing fence.
    We've been checking Craigslist in our local area for T-Posts in order to fence off the garden this spring to keep the wildlife out.
    Every now and then a farmer will have a great deal in our area on fencing and T-Posts.

  15. If you can get your hands on some black locust poles, that would be great for your new fence posts. Black locust has the reputation for lasting 60-70 years in the ground, it's that hard. Makes great firewood, too. Fixes nitrogen. Feeds bees. Grows fast, and coppices so you only have to plant it once to get all the great benefits from it. Not allelopathic, so grass will grow under it which is why it makes a great shade tree in a pasture (unlike walnut, for instance).

    That said, it also does have some nasty inch-and-a-half-long barbs on it and it does sucker, so even though it's close, it ain't perfect. But it's perfect for fence posts!


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