Last night we put the sheep in an electronet paddock with the idea of moving them when Lisa’s cheese class is done. They stayed there until 11 this morning. Then the fence went down and they came out. I got everyone back in and topped up all the critter’s water. By the time I finished with the dogs (Valerie had to work, so I have Angel as well as Bjarki), Kaytla, Naomi and their lambs were out. Fence down again.
Well, Kaytla looks horrid and prefers grass to Lisa’s garden, so I decided to leave them out. Than half an hour later, I see Leon with them, in the garden. Yep, fence down for a third time. I got a few back, but Fiona, Baabs and some random lambs are still out, and this crew likes day lilies as much as grain.
The reason for the title is that I don’t think any of the fence failures were actually caused by our houdinis. It rained last night, and we’re having high, gusty winds today. The electronet is being blown down because it’s in soft soil. I grant you that if we had good turf this would be less likely. Say once instead of three times. But if you have that kind of pasture, you probably also have a real fence around it.
There are also issues with the plastic stays curling, and this year (it’s not yet three years old) the metal posts are starting to bend as well.
We’re going to have to stick with electronet for a while: we have only a few hundred feet of permanent fence, and will probably only manage to put up a few hundred feet more this year with everything else we have going on. Starting over, however, I would strongly recommend getting real fence before you get animals, no matter what the ads say.
At this point I would only recommend electronet in two specific situations. First, you’re an established farm with large fenced pastures and you want to try intensive rotational grazing. Then it makes total sense to buy a few lengths of electronet to experiment with rather than put up a bunch of fence that you may decide you actually don’t want in a couple years. Besides, your big pastures are fenced already, so no one is going to go visit the neighbors if the net goes down.
The other case would be for raising pastured poultry, if you raise a breed that doesn’t actually fly. Electronet is perfect for giving the birds a nice fox-free paddock around a portable coop on a nicely cleared open pasture. Our Icelandic chickens of course fly very well (for chickens). They can clear six feet if they really want to, which makes 42 inch electronet rather pointless.
Oh well. Today may be the most perfect of the year so far. When the sheep got out while I was trying to get the sawmill back on its rails, I thought briefly of two high tech, high paying, jobs and a condo on the red line in DC. When the above happens and it’s cold and spitting rain, going urban can sound attractive. Today, not a chance. This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.