Keeping sheep and goats on our small property was problematic because our fencing was 5-strand twisted wire on one side and 3-strand barbed-wire on another — fine for horses and some cattle but no barrier at all to sheep and goats. Then, without any real plan, we had six lamb weanlings. We stuck them inside the fencing around our sewage lagoon and it was sufficiently large and lush to keep them for a few weeks, but it was now imperative that we amend our fencing to allow them to graze the whole pasture. We contracted with a company, who, several weeks later, came in and added field fence.
Our situation was less than ideal. Our property is long and narrow (330 x 1320 feet) so fencing our 10 acres required 3300 feet of fencing whereas if it were square we’d only have needed 2640 feet — 30% less money. On three sides they could attach the field fencing to existing T-posts or post and rail fencing, but on one long side the 3 strands of barbed-wire had simply been stapled to the hedge trees.
The fencing company would have to put in T-posts along the hedge row. Decision time. Doing it right meant cutting the hedge back as close as possible to the property line. Doing it quick meant placing the new T-posts away from the trees — a good 10 feet inside the property line. Real life being real life, we had to choose “quick”, but HWA keeps telling himself that someday he’ll recover the “lost” pasture by trimming the trees and moving the fence over. (Much smarter than HWA, I know that will never actually happen.)
All told, it took a crew of 3 men, 2 ½ days of labor in the hottest part of the summer to accomplish this, but with the right equipment to place and drive T-posts in a single blow and to stretch the fence hundreds of feet at a turn, the result was infinitely better and faster than HWA and I could ever have managed.
It was with glee that, after the fencing contractors left, we opened the lagoon gate, to let the sheep out. They declined! But when the day cooled to evening, they appeared delighted to have so much new area to graze, and immediately set about demolishing a stand of compass plants – a plant that we consider a weed, but they knew was the dessert offering in their new smorgasbord.