Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Tails From the Farm

Endlessly Fencing

At times it seems like fencing is a neverending task. Over the years, we’ve tried so many different kinds of fence. Some I was wise enough to take a pass on, like fencing made from recycled tires that were cut in strips, and the stretchy, wide plank-like rubber that was all the craze about the same time. Being a trucker, I was well aware of what weather does to rubber, and thought hanging it in the air to receive the full brunt of the elements, a ridiculous idea.
I hated barbed wire, and it’s capacity to shred a horse into ribbons, and vinyl planks made no sense, as they were brittle when cold. I decided to go with post and plank for my paddocks, and electric for the pastures. I jumped at the opportunity, to buy several hundred spruce posts, from one of the truckers I worked with. He would load them into his gravel trailer the night before, then dump them at my place on the way to the pit the next morning. They were eight feet long, a robust five to seven inches at the top, and the price was excellent. With my usual infinite wisdom, I figured they would get the job done at a fraction of the cost of pressure treated posts, and as one broke, I would replaced it with treated. One thing I never thought of until years later, was this. If you put them into the ground all at the same time, they’re pretty well guaranteed to all rot at the same time. Thank goodness I was smart enough to almost exclusively use treated posts on the paddocks.
Initially, we had a couple of corrals made from barbed wire, which I really do hate, then that came down and I made some from farm fencing, with a plank running along the top and bottom. All it took was one horse becoming seriously entangled, for me to realize that my great idea for fencing, wasn’t great at all. It had to go.
I managed to find a great deal on roughcut lumber, which is heavier, thicker and wider than milled lumber. Because of that deal, paddock posts were for the most part, sixteen feet apart. As sixteen foot long planks became hard to get, I went with fourteen foot spacings between posts, and some, like the riding ring, had twelve foot gaps.
Over the years, planks of any length became increasingly pricey. So much so, that I had to go with spruce rails instead. Now rails have increased in price. Did I just say increased? Leapt, sprung, darn near doubled in price in one year, is more like it. We now make sure to run at least one strand of electric wire to keep the horses off the fence. Planks and rails are simply too expensive to allow the horses to break because they need to rub their big, fat butts against them. Or lean through them to reach that notoriously delicious, greener grass on the other side. Horses are so weird. I’ve seen one leaning through to eat grass, while another in the other side, leans through to do the same. That doesn’t even make sense. We even had one mare that would have her hooves together like an elephant standing on a stool, while the fence supported her whole weight. Electric fencers are awesome … honestly great, best invention ever, and over the years, their quality has improved vastly.
The fence we’re working on now, is for our stallion, Mylone Ranger. He’s going to have a lovely paddock with an attached, little pasture all his own. Because the price of rails is so ridiculous, we’re going with two to start. It’s a highly visible, substantial appearing fence, but we’re not taking chances, there are also four strands of electric wire, and the fence is almost six feet tall! Ranger won’t be going anywhere, he’s not allowed to.
Another day of achievement and a feeling of a job well done, yet there are still horses to care for.
Speaking of horses, the evening brought its own surprise. Lucky Jim actually came across the field to meet us! He walked without hesitation towards the paddock gate then stopped when he felt taller grass against his legs. Hearing our voices of encouragement, he made a half circle, as if looking for a better route, before coming a bit closer.
“Wait a minute, Jim,” I chuckled while sweetpea grinned at how cute the big horse was being, “I’ll come help you.”
It certainly was as if he understood. I walked right up to him, and I helped him through the gate then let him go. Away he went to look for his senior feed. Thus morning he was funny too. I led him through the gate then let him go to see what he would do. He walked away with purpose, nose to the ground as if checking for something, maybe the quality of the grass? Well, after going about 30 feet, he suddenly circled right back to me, and touched my arm with his nose. Somehow I knew what he wanted. He wanted to be back at the spot he’d finished at last evening. I led him there, and he was instantly happily contented. I’m guessing Jim feels at home now. He certainly appears comfortable.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB