When we first moved onto the farm we were thrilled that there was already fencing around the pasture. Sure there were a few holes but no big deal to patch them. And then the sheep started escaping. Turns out there were a few more holes that we hadn’t found. And a part of the fence is sagging and maybe the sheep are able to jump over it- we aren’t sure. Making any changes to the fence is difficult because it is all completely overgrown with brush and trees. This provides wonderful privacy all the way around the property and so I’d hate to see it go. But it makes it really hard to inspect the fencing and to fix any problems with it. Another problem is that the fencing is old. Its all woven wire mesh, which is great for sheep, but much of it is rusted and malformed and I can’t get it straightened out.
So right now I’m frustrated and not sure that the current fencing can be salvaged. Clearly, it won’t be ready for the sheep without a lot of work. But we can’t keep the sheep tied up forever. They are doing pretty well on long leads but they have to be untangled every couple of hours. And its just too hot and cramped to lock them in the barn- plus then they have to be fed lots of purchased feed rather than eating yummy, healthy and free pasture.
The best plan I can think of is to set up a small grazing space with movable electric fencing. We only have three sheep so they really don’t need such a large pasture and it’ll be much easier to keep an eye on them if they are confined. Our girls were trained to electric netting as lambs so they know to keep away from it and have plenty of respect for it. The main reason this plan is more appealing than completely re-doing the entire fence line is, of course, expense and time. We can fence in a section of the pasture with electric netting for a couple of hundred and an afternoon’s work. Re-doing the whole fence line will take much more money and a lot more time.
Hopefully we will eventually be able to re-do the entire fence line. As our flock grows we’ll want to be able to use all the space. But even once we do that it’ll be nice to have some moveable electric netting on hand for if we need to keep the sheep off part of the pasture (perhaps to let the grass grow up), isolate part of the flock or keep the flock closer to the barn for lambing, shearing or a vet visit.
My mom is visiting my aunt today who has an extra fence charger that we can borrow- if she can find it! My aunt recently broke her leg so it’ll be up to my mom to find the charger in the barn where its been stored away.
This is the fencing I’m thinking of buying– it seems like all the sheep farmers I talk to have good things to say about Premier-1 and they have free shipping.