Prior to moving to Diamond Forest Farm Stay my understanding of that farm necessity, fencing, was that it was a very physical, important and one off chore. That is; you worked you backside off putting a fence up and then it was done. Complete. Finito. In ten years or so you may have to replace a section or a post but time and age or a car crashing through in a freak accident where the only reason you would have to work on your fence.
I can hear long time farmers laughing their backsides off even as I write this. Oh boy was I so naïve. Yes time, age and freak accidents will require you to have to
attend to your fences. So will kangaroos going through them, trees or branches from trees falling on them, the next door neighbour’s cattle breaking through them, our sheep stretching them, our goats going over them and under them, our donkey’s destroying them and our bull going through them: all of which has occurred in the last two months. And there is a surprising amount of fencing on a 50 acre farm!
In fact Mark is currently down by the dam with the chainsaw cutting up a dropped Karri branch that has landed on the fence of our long paddock. Luckily our sheep, which are often in the long paddock, were elsewhere. Had they been in that paddock at the time, being the opportunistic animals that they are, they would have happily used the gap in the fencing to discover new pastures.
Last month the next door neighbour’s cattle decided that they wanted to have a closer chat with our bull, Nugget, and gate crashed his paddock. . .literally. Granted that particular fence was well beyond its use by date but suddenly we found ourselves, with our neighbours, up on the boundary fence slogging away in the hot sun replacing a section of fence. Fortunately all of the neighbour’s cattle were steers and so nothing bad or unwanted came from our bull’s little get together with the boys next door.
After fixing the fence we decided to put the goats in with our bull- it’s a large paddock that had plenty of feed and a new wire of electric fencing around it so it was perfect for both our bull and the goats. One particular goat we have named Houdini because he has become very practised at escaping his paddock, even paddocks that have an electric fence additional to our standard fencing. And so it wasn’t long before we noticed Houdini escaping into the next paddock along- also one of our paddocks. We weren’t too worried. By nightfall he was always back in his rightful paddock and we had given up trying to keep him in the correct paddock as long as he didn’t go visiting our neighbours, which is something he has never done.
However, we had failed to take into consideration that our bull, Nugget, was observing Houdini and had decided
that he too would like to be in the other paddock. Nugget is quite substantially bigger than Houdini and, unlike Houdini, he is not able to get down on his belly and crawl under the fence. At about 600kg he is also too large to jump over the fence. So Nugget did what stubborn bulls will often do: he went through the fence instead; followed by our steer, Victor, our ram, Mr T, our buck, Uther, and our two other goats, Nigel and Jimmy. So we had another fence to repair!
In the meantime a kangaroo had gone through our boundary fence prior to crossing the road- another fence to fix- and our donkeys in the hill paddock, despite all efforts to stop them, had continued their habit of chewing on our fence posts and had managed to chew one right through so it had snapped in half. On closer inspection, three other fence posts needed replacing as well as our donkeys needing a vet and dental check to make sure this bad habit wasn’t doing any damage to their teeth or their health.
I am now much more educated on the concept of fencing. It can be a never ending job, checking the boundary fence, checking the electric fence and making constant repairs when needed. From the outside looking in farming chores can appear so simple, if somewhat physically demanding, but I now have a much greater understanding, and respect for, the ‘simple’ chore of farm fencing.