Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Move Over Moon.

I know I don't blog as much as I used to. I guess life has been more busy, but less busy with horses.

I've been teaching a couple kids to ride Moon and it's a blast. Almost the highlight of my week, and I love it.

We've also been fencing like crazy. This weekend I got all the posts augered and most of them set, aside from the corner braces. And the middle wires hung. I am over the moon! Seriously, this is the coolest thing ever (and I just got married lol).

I did a lot of research into our fencing, and I have to be honest, I chose one that was affordable. I don't ride crazy, so I don't need to fence crazy in either. I'm not too worried about not having solid fencing on the property. Two sides are flanked by trees, one is partially flanked by large tyndall stone. The rest....is more pasture and there's no one back there. I own a short QH who would probably stay behind a rope fence if I wanted.

So I chose to do wood posts and high tensile wire. I wanted to electrify the top wire to keep any horses from venturing out, and after getting it built, have decided that I'm going to wire it up to electrify the bottom wire too if wanted/needed.

My posts are sunk so they're 48" tall, with three wires spaced 20" from ground, 12" from that and 12" from that. For a total height of 44".

One of the biggest lessons I learned reading so much about HT wire fencing, is that the elasticity of the HT wire is what makes it such wonderful fencing. When an animal runs into a HT fence (talking non-electrified), the wire stretches out with the animal because the wire is very ductile. That means that it has a lot of stretch without being brittle. So the wire stretches out when the animal runs into it, but instead of breaking and letting the animal through, it acts like a spring and rebounds back into its original state...meaning it pushes the animal right back into the yard like a giant rubber band!

Now one of the things I've never liked about HT wire, is that it "breaks easily". Or so I always thought. An animal runs into it, and if it's not shocked into behaving, they snap the wire and are loose. Hmmmm....

My research led me to some great university ag extension work, that showed the recommended post spacing is 40 to 50 feet.

Where I live, most people install posts much the way we did for barbed wire; something like a post every 10-15 feet.

That's a HUGE difference.

The larger spacing however, is accompanied by keeping the wire TAUGHT. A few hundred foot pounds.

The research taught me two things here. When the posts are too close together and the wire run over too short of a distance, it loses its ability to spring. With just 15' between posts there's only 15' of wire to stretch, which means it gets over stretched REALLY quick. And then snaps. Likewise, if your fence is run over a very short distance (under 200') it will lose some of its ability to stretch and retract, so you should consider adding springs at the end of the line to add a little more "give".

The other issue is that folks don't keep the wires tight enough. And in-line strainer, which winds excess wire around itself, is used to maintain this high level of tension. You want enough tension to keep the wire nice and taught, which keep them from touching, and keeping them from touching is what allows you to have your posts further apart without sag.

So that's the magic combo. Wide fence spacing allows you fence to stretch, and tight wire allows your fence to not sag.

We opted to go with 50' spacing, with H braces on the corners and any changes of direction. The middle wire is stapled to the fence, and the top and bottom will be on plastic insulators. The corner wires will be held on by ceramic donut insulators.

I bought 2 ground rods to start, though I'm not sure how well they'll ground in our soil. We set one corner post outside the fenceline, and our solar energizer will be mounted to it. This keeps the horses from being able to destroy it or the wires.

Our gates for the moment, will just be wire gates with plastic handles. I want to connect them, so that when you open a gate, the gate is no longer electrified.

Someday in the future, we'll swap all the gates over to steel tube.

I originally calculated that to manage our pasture, we need 3 paddocks for grazing, and one sacrificial paddock for when the ground is super sloppy and saturated. The sacrificial paddock would contain the shelter, the water trough and be the location of all of the feeding. I wanted to include a small feed/tack room off the side of the shelter as well.

My first plan was to make two pastures accessible off the sacrifice paddock (I think that needs a new name), and then divide one in half and when in there, the horse wouldn't have any access to the shelter.

But then I was looking at hauling water way out there, and no shelter, and it seemed like a huge pain.

So this weekend, I realized I could divide it up into wedges, with a gate to each wedge leading out of the sacrifice paddock! And I just needed to open whatever gate the horse was grazing. No moving anything.

The downfall of this, is that at the back of the pasture, the fence line narrows a lot, so the horses only have about 50' of fenceline along the back....which I know can be an issue with crowding when horses don't get along. Force a horse into a corner and you have fencing coming down.

But I honestly do not plan on ever having more then 2 horses. We just can't sustain it on our property. And with the ability to do fenceline greetings, I think it won't be that big of an issue anyway. I sure beats not having the ability to easily rotate pastures.

I left gate access out of the paddock areas. One at the back and I need to make a nice exit out of the side by our new larger garden.

We left a good 20' gap between the fence line and the property line. And I want to plant some raspberry bushes and trees along that gap. Also, since someday years from now someone could decide to subdivide that neighboring properties, I really like the idea that there will be no horse-to-horse contact, there's a good barrier between our yard and whatever is built back there, and we can still drive the fenceline without opening gates.

I think it will be lovely. We also have about 75' at the back of the property unfenced. There's a large dugout there that we used for fill around the house, that never fills with water because the bedrock is show shallow.

So I was looking at all of this yesterday, and I know what I want.

It's the perfect cross country course!!!

The circuit can run along the edge of the rock piles over a couple of stone jumps, down through the dug out and out of it, back along the side of the fence over a couple bush jumps. Then into the woods over some log jumps before wrapping back to the trail. It's a beautiful setup. And a great circuit!

So that's the plan! I want to add goat paddocks in our bush next year too, but it's not as urgent so I'm not too worried about it. I'm just really happy to see our fencing go up and be ready for Moon to move home in the spring :)

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