Country Living, Farm Life, Gardening, Self-Sustaining

Fencing the Farm

I’m not so sure the person who wrote that song about life on the farm being kind of laid back was in his right mind…at all. There is nothing laid back about this lifestyle.

My husband and I spent a good chunk of our weekend fencing. In the rain. In a thunderstorm. At one point, standing on the outskirts of an alfalfa field while eyeing the safe and dry enclosure of my in-laws truck, I told my husband that I sometimes wondered if he was partially insane. He gave me an odd look and asked why. In response, lightning ripped across the sky followed swiftly by the roll of thunder.

Of all the times I wished I could arch a brow to express that perfect amount of sarcasm, that nonverbal “see?!?”….this would be one of them.

But, he had a goal. Get a majority of the fencing done if not completed entirely so that when morning came, we could do chores and hit the road to join my family at the cabin my brother and his wife had rented for the summer and invited us to visit. That’s the fun part about living in the Land of a Thousand Lakes…people have lake places. When they invite you, you go because a day on the lake is not something you ever want to turn down. Especially if you are not one of the many people who own or rent lake places for the summer.

We were able to get the posts in, the insulators on and the bottom wire strung before I finally called it quits and went in to take care of the girls and get them ready for bed, racing through a downpour to do so.

Why was the Hubs so gung-ho about fencing? Because Bodie (the llama stud) Waco and Bart (the two Katahdin-Dorper mix rams) were running low on grazing opportunities and were now testing the fences. The two days leading up to our fencing adventure were filled with continually herding the rams back into the enclosure we had set up. One attempt involved me angrily chasing them away from the cucumbers in the garden. There’s nothing quite like chasing two rams out of a garden and yelling “Don’t you dare!” I’m pretty sure they had no clue what I meant but it felt good to say it.

Bodie, thankfully, made no such attempts and just stood on the sidelines, emitting worried little beeps every now and then.

The morning came and before we took off for the lake, we finished stringing the top wire. With the help and generosity of my father-in-law we were able to run electricity to the fences after a failed attempt at using the fencer that was here when we moved in. We removed the fence between the two enclosures and herded the boys over to their new haven. I watched Bodie with a smile on my face as he looked back and forth, imagining that he was having a difficult time making up his mind with where he wanted to start. So many trees! Goodbye lilac bushes!

The boys
Bodie, Bart and Waco enjoying their new pasture.

We took a reprieve, joining my family at the lake for the rest of the day and returning the next morning for brunch, canoeing, fishing and swimming.

And then it was back home…for more fencing.

The chicks are getting too big for the foot and a half of chicken wire we have them enclosed in outside and both my husband and I are tired of moving them from the outdoor run to the indoor container that they are also getting too big for.

We expanded the run for the hens and divided the run to keep the chicks and hens separate. When it comes to chicks and hens, you don’t want to introduce them too early or the hens, regardless of how docile they seem, might just rip your poor chicks to pieces. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic….but they won’t make the transition on the chicks easy by any means.

For the time being, we have a snow fence as a boundary between the two groups which keeps the chicks safe, but also get the hens used to having them around so that when we do put the two groups together, the transition will be relatively seamless. Hopefully. I’ll let you know if my assumption on that is correct when the time comes.

This fence isn’t electric. It’s fence that was left behind when the Hubs grandparent passed and left the farm to him. We unrolled, repositioned, cut wire and twisted it around supporting fence posts. I’ve come away from this with blisters on my hands which sting every time I wash them. Looks like this little gal needs to toughen up. Or invest in a pair of sturdy work gloves.

The pay off in all of this is that all animals are extremely pleased. The hens are calm and seem to quietly enjoy their opened up space, the chicks are dashing around, scritching at the long grass and pecking away at the fresh greenery and the boys are continually grazing, protected by the shade of the trees and unbothered by their surroundings.

With the boys especially, giving them something that makes them happy makes me happy. My dad calls this Summer Camp for them – an opportunity to be away from the females of the herd and not pacing fences stressfully to get to them. The females are an hour and a half away and the boys are enjoying this like some kind of livestock vacation. We’ll return them refreshed and hopefully ready to breed the herd of ladies my parents have.

And then we’ll fence again. For goats. Yay fencing!!

On top of this, we’ll be welcoming 25 more chicks into our flock this coming weekend. After three attempts at incubating our own flock in a house where temperature regulation is really tricky and having a majority of those attempts fail, we decided it might be best to order our chicks. Our last attempt yielded one chick…Tuff Fluff. Out of 17 hopeful hatchlings, the temp rose dramatically in the few hours no one was in the house even with the a/c going five feet away from it, and I’m assuming that really hurt our chances of having all hatch. Tuff was the only survivor. The girls wanted Fluff, I had to give my nod to the survival of the fittest…and that’s how Tuff Fluff was named.

So after calling my mom who decided to go in on the deal with us, we ordered 25 Buff Orpingtons – a breed that seems perfect for our family. They’re above average layers, cold weather hardy, and above all, a friendly chicken. Any post I’ve seen gushes about the breed and goes on to say their flock would never not include a few Orpingtons.

As far as the garden goes…weeds have taken it over and I’m working slowly to recover it. Starting right about now while the temps are below 80 and the clouds are keeping the sun hidden quite well.

Although there are moments of relaxation, all in all…the work on a farm, even a small one like this, is never done.

When checking out the plumb trees, Sammy and I found this lily hiding out in the shade!

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