Saturday, January 28, 2006


As Robert Frost said in Mending Wall, "Good fences make good neighbours." Bad fences, though, can show you what good neighbors you have. We moved onto the farm about a year ago and have been struggling with fencing everyday since then. Neither my husband nor I gave more than two seconds thought to the state of the fences before we settled here. We were more concerned about the lack of floor and bathroom in the house. We met our neighbors early when the calves wandered onto the highway. Southern country people are great! At least ten cars pulled over to help get the calves back where they were supposed to be. Obviously, fencing became a top priority. We have installed miles of barbed wire and thousands of posts.

Underestimating the prowess of my flock of Buff Catalinas, I made a picket fence, of sorts, around the house and garden, out of wood that was not good enough to go back on the house. I lost every one of last year's first crop tomatoes to the chickens. I found truth in my search for an aesthetically pleasing fence - the truth that you need chicken wire if you want to keep the chickens out of the garden.

Katrina blew through and my garden fence and every wire fence on the property was gone or at least severely compromised. Since that time, our neighbor's herd, including one buffalo, wandered over; another neighbor's horses traipsed into the yard; and our cows can move, at will, to any pasture. So much for managed grazing. A year after moving here, we still have almost no fencing and are building fences almost every weekend. We have gotten to change the century old fence configurations, gotten to clean the privet off the fence rows, and gotten to experiment with different fencing techniques and can now fence beautifully. After calls from our kind and understanding neighbor, I was out last night getting a calf back where he belongs. We are fencing today.

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