Strong Fences Make Good Neighbors
Viking, Minnesota

Rural Reflections Radio

If you raise cattle or live next to a cattle farm you know the importance of a good fence. I would go further to say that a well-constructed fence is not only a complement to the appearance of the landscape but says much about the builder.
Here are some personality types based on the fence they build. 1. The classic five-strand barb wire fence. This fence speaks of permanence, strength, stability and an incredible lust for work. 2. The high-tensile, low-impedance fence. This rancher is the son of the barbed-wire rancher, figuratively and maybe literally. Always a believer in new technology, he uses the 20 joule fencer that couldn’t be grounded even when the salesman hung four crowbars on the fence wire. There have been a couple of electrocutions but all in the name of security. He tests his fence by trying to drive a tractor through it and is on four different fencing catalogue lists. 3. One rusty wire and a lot of hope. A fence that features a re-bar post every 75 feet and the fencer is one of Mr. Edison’s original prototypes. This fence comes from the wrong side of the tracks and most likely lets the cattle end up on the wrong side of the fence. This rancher must attend church often because he sure has faith.
Here are a few fencing tips that work for my cattle operation. 1. Post frequency. Fence wire is not heavy but a snowdrift will weigh it down as it settles. More fence posts help keep the wire from breaking and make the fence more visible to cattle. 2. Rust-free connections. Simply wrapping wire together breaks the galvanized coating and invites rust. Buy the crimped factory connections or the twist-wire type. One bad connection will not ruin a fence but many have a cumulative effect. 3. Weed control. Spray the ground outside the fence. This will keep cattle from reaching through the fence and ending up on the wrong side. I keep small pruning sheers in my back pocket to nip small trees and thick weeds. 4. Grounding rods. Use at least three grounding rods driven eight feet deep and 10 feet apart. I prefer to place the rods in the bottom of a ditch as moist soil conducts better.
Some advice for the real world of fencing. 1. Plenty of food is the best fence. This is my favorite quotation. 2. Feed a little corn even when it’s not needed. Human’s follow good leaders but cattle follow anyone carrying a feed pail. This will help if they do get out of the fence. 3. If someone notices your fence is not exactly straight just explain that it’s caused by the curve of the earth. I have done it myself and it always works.
I love seeing a nice fence with green pasture. I read a quotation once that stated, “People who plant Oak trees have poetry in their soul.” I feel my poet come out every time I build fence.