Fencing without a Sword

I recently watched an episode of the “Tough Grit” competition on RFD
Tv. “Tough Grit” pits one contestant and one professional versus
another similar team in contests that involve farm work. This week’s
episode was a competition based on cattle fence which lit the fire for this
week’s column.

This is not a step-by-step instructional on fencing. I just want to
tell you about some things I do that make my fence easier to use and
maintain. Some of these techniques may seem excessive but I always
consider how much cattle are worth today and then I ask myself “would
you rather the cattle exist inside the fence or out on the road?”
This is a rhetorical question that creates a perspective in which I do good
fence work.

Remote fence control can turn fence on and off from anywhere along the fence.

 I have spoken before about good corner posts-these are about fifty
percent of the effectiveness of any fence. Another big star on the
fence team is the fence energizer. Many people get one rated for
“fifty miles” when the reality is that rating exists only under
perfect conditions. If you want your fencer to work then use at least
three ground rods, real ground rods-not t posts, driven six feet into
the ground. A big fencer that is not well-grounded is like a man who
has big, strong arms but little pigeon legs. This year I installed a
fencer that I can turn on and off remotely. This is so nice because I
often find insulators torn by deer from t-posts that I must
replace. I now can turn off the fence from wherever I am and replace
the insulator then turn the power up and check for voltage with the
same hand-held unit.

Lightning diverter re-routes lightning strikes into the ground.

 This was not a big year for lightning but most years we get our
share. I began installing lightning diverters about a decade ago.
The lightning diverter is installed every quarter mile and has a
little spring that slows down all electricity which passes through
it. The spring is connected to a finger of metal that is poised about
three-eighths of an inch from a grounding rod. The spark that comes
from the fence energizer will not cross this gap and continues
through the spring and back into the fence. Lightning, however,
is slowed as it passes through the spring then easily jumps that gap
and is directed into the ground instead of back to the fence
energizer. Energizers are expensive, lightning diverters are cheap-I
will allow you to complete the math.

Fence-line switch allows me to isolate sections of fence for repair.

 My fence has several switches installed along the perimeter and to
the internal fence used to create paddocks. These switches allow me
to disconnect empty portions of pasture to redirect more power to
paddocks currently under use. The switches also serve me well when I
do a process of elimination when trying to locate a short in the fence.
Farmers usually have a big tractor or two of which they are really
proud. I harvest my little crop of pasture with cattle and a fence,
not a tractor. It is my main farm implement and I guess I’m pretty
proud of it.

As long as we are taking about cattle, I had to mention the new
Chevrolet commercial advertising their trucks. In the commercial, a
calf goes missing and the rancher uses the gps in his truck to help
locate the little calf miles away. If I was ever missing a calf, it
was usually close to the mother in a place she’s chosen in which to
hide the calf. In the commercial, the calf apparently was transported
via alien abduction to a far-off location only reachable using a
Chevrolet pick-up equipped with gps. Apparently Chevrolet isn’t
trying to sell pick-ups to farmers anymore; just city people who
believe chocolate milk comes from black cows.

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