"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Function Over Form

the calf keeping me company

Recently, I made a fairly large purchase: a dozen cattle panels. I have a long term goal of eventually having all my pastures fenced and cross-fenced with cattle panels, instead of with the droopy, non-functional field fencing we put up when we first moved here. 

After MUCH research, some of it by trial and error (The Forever Fence (Is It a Myth?)) I have made the discovery that cattle panels are the most economical and effective form of fencing for goats. Goats like to stand up on field fencing, which is why most of ours is now mashed down to a height of about twenty-five inches. That is a height which obviously provides no impediment to a goat who wants to be on the other side. It would be marginally cheaper to replace the old mashed down field fencing with new field fencing, as opposed to using cattle panels, but it would be a LOT more work, and no guarantees that the new fencing would last very long, either.

Cattle panels cost about $37 apiece, here, with tax figured in, and are 16 feet long. The dozen I just bought cost  $440 and are just sufficient to re-fence one side of the smallest pasture. At this rate, I will achieve my goal approximately six months before I die of old age. Once, I did find a whole bunch of cattle panels for sale at $20 a pop on Craigslist, but that situation turned out to have a few drawbacks, as well (Cattle (Panel) Rustling).

Today is a beautiful day, sunny and somewhere above fifty degrees. This fact, combined with a general lack of aches and pains when I woke up this morning, convinced me to get out and put up the panels. Dragging a sixteen foot long, wobbly panel through a gate and across a muddy field is not an easy task, and after I had done it six times I went to go find Homero and ask him to help me with the other six. We laid them out along the old fence, and then I went back and tied them to the fence posts using - what else - baling twine.

Every winter, we go through forty-five or fifty bales of hay, and each one has two lines of twine holding it together. When I was a child, these were made of natural jute, but now, of course, like everything else in the world, they are plastic. And very durable. I have pulled these bright orange strings out of the compost pile after years, and they are still just about as strong as ever. They do pile up, too; my work today demanded some thirty-six of them, and I had no trouble at all finding that many here and there about the place.

It would make sense to go back with some wire cutter and actually remove the mashed down field fencing. I'm not sure what it's good for at this point, since it is almost impossible to restore it to it's original shape, but aesthetics alone dictates I eventually get rid of it. The fences are quite a sight as they are now - tangled up, bent, tied together with string, festooned with horse-hair and the occasional plastic bag.... pretty, no they are not. But after today's work, they are a little bit more functional.

Ivory enjoys the sun