Yes, sometimes it just takes one weekend away from home to help you realize just how much you enjoy being home. This past weekend was just that for me. Not that it was a bad or difficult weekend, it was in fact the opposite. My long weekend away began on Friday morning. In the midst of a winter storm warning I was to drive two hours to Jackpot Junction Casino where the weekend conventions were to be held. Normally, driving under such circumstances would have me very nervous but this time I was confident I would make it before the storm hit and since I was to stay for two nights the mess would be all cleaned up by the time I had to leave. Fortunately I made it to my destination ahead of the weather and got myself settled in for the weekend.
The conventions I was attending were the MN State Cattlemen’s annual convention and the MN Lamb and Wool Producers annual Shepherd’s Harvest. This is the part of my job that I love. I get to attend these conventions to support the organizations and attend seminars about the industry that will help me better serve MN farmers. As an added bonus, the topics discussed can help me learn more about my own livestock operation. It actually makes it worthwhile to put in the extra effort in planning that it takes for me to be gone for a couple of nights.
The downside of all of this is that after talking with producers about your operation and learning all sorts of new things that you want to try out at home, it really does add to the feeling of homesickness that begins to set in after a day or two away. I was happy to face dry roads and good weather for my trip home on Sunday evening. I was even happier to see that all the livestock had fared well in my absence and learn that my children were not too much of a burden to their grandparents.
I always look forward to the adventures my job takes me on. I thoroughly enjoy the preparation and anticipation but perhaps the best feeling of all it that of completeness when I return home.
Well, I believe it was about a year ago that I was so excited that I was finally able to send the goats out to their pasture. You see, on our farm fencing for goats comes after all the cow pastures have been tended to. We debated on how to put up a fence for the goats, knowing that a fence that doesn’t hold water will not hold a goat. We finally settled on four strands of smooth wire, all electrified with our 100 mile Blitzer fencer.
I figured it would work as long as there was plenty for the goats to eat inside the fence and they would have no need to get out…wrong. It took about a day for the girls to realize they could get through the fence (longer than it took to put the fence up). The electric zap didn’t seem to bother them, although I know from experience that it carried a punch. The goats spent the rest of the summer roaming the yard and munching on my shrubs.
This year I convinced Bill to put up a real goat fence. I spent much of the winter researching different types of fencing options, weighing pros and cons and determining total cost. I finally settled on woven wire with offset electric wires as suggested by Premier 1. Unfortunately using the fencing from Premier was out of the question. The cost of the wire itself is comparable to anything I can find at a local farm store but the cost to ship the stuff was nearly as much as the fence itself. After discussing with some other goat farmers in the area I settled on a type of woven wire fence I could find at Fleet Farm. It has larger spaces between the wires than the Premier fencing I wanted but hopefully the offset electrified wires will deter the girls from hanging their horns in it.
The fencing project started with some sturdy braces: This is the H-Brace design described by Premier 1:
We’re fortunate enough to have an abundant supply of railroad ties that make superb fence posts. We also have a post-hole driller attachment for our skidloader that saves a lot of work when it comes to setting the wood posts.
Next Bill and I had to thump in the line posts. For these we used steel T-posts which may get replaced by wood posts if they prove to be insufficient. The T-posts are relatively easy to set except that with three dry years in a row the ground was terribly hard. I let Bill line them up and get them started (if you’ve ever seen me set posts you’d know why- cRooKed). My job was to finish the thumping- not pleasant.
Lily, inspecting our work
Next was attaching the woven wire fence. This is not an easy task since the 330′ rolls weigh close to 200 pounds. We ended up unrolling it from one end of the fence to the other then attaching it to the posts on the way back. The wire was stretched one strand at a time and secured to the end H-brace. I’m thinking this will need to be done annually to keep the fence tight as the wire stretches. But for now it’s looking pretty good.
This one line took all day to complete and it was dark by the time we were finished so I don’t have any pictures of that yet. Bill got some help yesterday to work on the other side of the paddock and that should be finished up today. Hopefully by this evening the goats will head out to their new home (and my daily chores will be shortened considerably!)