Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Spring is a good time to get serious about putting in permanent fencing on your property. The farm supply stores usually have sales on fencing supplies in the spring. To know what you’ll need, make a map to scale of the area to be fenced and mark where every post and gate will go. If you are running your fence along your property line, make sure it is accurate. Good fences make good neighbors, but only if the fence doesn’t encroach on the other’s property. We chose to run the fence in the photo 25’ in from the property line. We mow on the outside of the fence to about 5’ and let the other 20’ grow. It has been interesting watching the progression of plants come in, with blackberries and sweet gum trees establishing themselves first. Past that is the hay field that belongs to a neighbor. Not fencing all the way to the property line allows for wildlife corridors, walking paths, and for a buffer from whatever is happening beyond. You might be using a temporary fence to rotate animals and divide pastures, but having a permanent perimeter fence keeps your animals on your property in case that temporary fence fails—and it most likely will at some point.
Woven wire is most often used for pasture fences. You can pull it tight with a fence stretcher. We made our own fence stretcher from two 2x4’s, a couple large nuts and bolts, 2 come-a-longs, and 2 pieces of chain when we put in our first woven wire fence in 1986. The come-a-longs have been handy on the farm since then. A stretched fence needs to have strong corners to attach to. That means a 6x6 corner post with another post about 6’ away. That post could be a 4x4. A third post goes between the two, either straight across at about level with the top of the fence, or slanted as shown in the photo. In order to do the stretching, another post needs to be put in the ground, temporarily, past the corner post. The fence stretcher attaches to this post and to the fence, which is tightened by cranking the come-a-longs. While everything is tight, using u-shaped fencing nails, nail the fence to the permanent posts. About every 100 feet of fence you will need to have a set of wooden posts to nail to. The rest of the posts can be metal t-posts. When you buy them, make sure to get the metal clips to use when attaching the fence. Our farm supply store gives the clips with the posts.
If you are fencing your yard, garden, or chicken pen, you might be installing a welded wire fence. Being welded, it can’t be pulled tight, so you don’t need strong corner posts for that. T-posts are sufficient for a welded wire fence. Of course, if there are cedar trees on your property, you could cut your own posts for whatever kind of fence you are putting up. We are concerned about using pressure treated posts, even though the new treatment is supposedly safe. That’s what we were all told about the previous treatment. After a major fencing project in 2006 where we used pressure treated posts, we decided to do something about it and planted some black locust seedlings we got from the Virginia Department of Forestry. We’re beginning to cut them now when we have a project requiring posts. They will regrow multiple stems to use in future years.
Our original pasture had woven wire on two sides and board fence on two sides. The boards are oak boards we bought from a sawmill. It needs painted now and again, but it has held up great. That fence is 27 years old and only needs an occasional board replaced. It has four boards, each 6” apart and is meant to keep in livestock. Chickens will hop right through it. If you need to climb over a fence, this is a good one for that.
Learn more about homestead fencing at Homeplace Earth. Plan what you want to keep in or out and then choose what type of fence would be best. Notice what kinds of fences others have and find out if it has worked well for them. Do your homework, then take the plunge and just put in your fence. It is one of the learning experiences of life.
Learn more about Cindy Conner and what she’s up to at www.HomeplaceEarth.wordpress.com.