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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PST

Fencing for Horses

Fencing for Horses

Fencing for Horses

by Tony McQuail of Lucknow, ON

When we started farming in 1973 we decided to do some permanent fencing using page wire, cedar posts and a top strand of barbed wire. We found that sheep would work the page wire up from below and that despite the barbed wire horses would push both it and the page wire down from above. We started experimenting with electric fencing both to see if it would be better for keeping the livestock from beating up the fences and to allow us to do more temporary fencing which allowed us to make smaller paddocks and get into a more intensive pasture management.

The first wire we tried was a small gauge steel wire which was not terribly satisfactory with horses. If it were strung across a gateway – half the time they wouldn’t see it and would charge on through. And the other half of the time they would remember getting shocked by something they hadn’t seen there and would refuse to come through when we were standing there with gate wide open. We realized that visibility was an important consideration when working with horses.

As time went on we replaced much of our perimeter fencing and some of our interior fencing with 3 strand high tensile wire. This gave us a powerfully conductive perimeter that could work for both sheep, goats, cattle and horses. Though high tensile wire can do nasty things to horses if they get tangled up in it. I’ve seen horses legs sliced to the bone with wire that acted like a cheese slicer when they ran through it or got it wrapped around their legs.

We tried using poly wire with the horses and sheep but found it worked well when brand new but as soon as it had gotten broken or had been up against a steel post or some old broken wire and had some shorts it wasn’t very conductive and the sheep stopped respecting it and the horses would sometimes run through it before they would see it. We were almost ready to do our interior fencing with permanent High Tensile wire when we read about a device called a reel barrow that would let us put up to 4 wires of a braided, galvanized soft steel wire called maxi-shock. We decided to give it a try for the sheep. About that time we also started using poly tape to have a much more visible wire for the horses. We found we could make a multi purpose fence with two lower strands of maxi-shock and an upper strand of poly tape. The poly tape didn’t even have to be conductive any more. The lower strands of maxi-shock could carry the current for fencing the sheep and they would also work for the horses if they grazed up to the fence while the highly visible poly tape would keep them from running through it.

Fencing for Horses

We also started making “electric western gates” with gallagher insultimber droppers and polytape. The old western gates had an upright wired to the inside of the two gate posts which then had barbed wire stretched between them – and usually several spacers as well to keep the barbed wire apart. To open the gate you flipped the top loop off one of the uprights – pulled it out of the bottom loop and dragged the gate out of the gate way. We replaced the wire loops with bale twine and the barbed wire with three strands of poly tape. If I’m using old poly tape I’ll put a run of maxishock at the same level as the lowest polytape wire and run a piece of maxi shock up both sides of the gate about 8 inches in from the upright insultimber dropper. The maxi shock makes sure the power gets to the far side of the fence and the side pieces run power up to both ends of all three polytape levels. Positioning it 8 inches from the dropper means you can hold the dropper without getting shocked even if the fence is on. I use bale twine instead of wire because it is not very conductive (it can still nip you if it is wet), I have a lot of it and it is easily adjustable.

Spotlight On: People

Farmrun John Erskine

John Erskine

John Erskine farms with horses in Sequim, WA.

Sustainable

Sustainable

Sustainable is a documentary film that weaves together expert analysis of America’s food system with a powerful narrative of one extraordinary farmer who is determined to create a sustainable future for his community. In a region dominated by commodity crops, Marty Travis has managed to maintain a farming model that is both economically viable and environmentally safe.

Richard Douglass, Self-sufficient Farmer

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I’ve got two teams of Belgians that power all the things on the farm. I don’t have a tractor, I don’t have a truck or anything like that. Everything must be done by them. I have two buggy horses that I use for transportation. I have a one-seater buggy for when I’m going into work or into town by myself and then I have a two-seater one for when I’m with the kids.

The Persimmon Tree

The Persimmon Tree

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It wouldn’t take my brothers long to make the rounds. I needed to be ready, so I cautiously approached the tree and stepped under the shade of its branches. Then I leaped backward, causing my braids to wave forward like swinging doors. There were possums in the branches — possums hanging from their tails! After the first reaction of surprise and fear, I was overcome with amusement. They were so funny!

In Memoriam Gene Logsdon

In Memoriam: Gene Logsdon

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Gene didn’t see life (or much of anything else) through conventional eyes. I remember his comment about a course he took in psychology when he was trying to argue that animals did in fact have personalities (as any farmer or rancher will tell you is absolutely true), and the teacher basically told him to sit down and shut up because he didn’t know what he was taking about. Gene said: “I was so angry I left the course and then left the whole stupid school.”

Rainshadow Organics

Rainshadow Organics

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Saralee Lawrence and Ashanti Samuels are Rainshadow Organics, a burgeoning, certified organic operation which fully embraces the tenets of mixed crop and livestock farming. At its core is a full-force market garden. The entire farm comprises one hundred and eighty acres situated in the magnificent, high desert region of central Oregon and subject to a painfully short growing season (some years just slightly over 2 months).

Mule Powered Wrecker Service

Mule Drawn Wrecker Service

This will only add fuel to those late night discoursians about the relative merits of horses over mules or viciversy. Is the horse the smarter one for hitching a ride or is the mule the smarter one for recognizing the political opportunity which this all represents? In any event these boys know what they are doing, or should, so don’t try this at home without horse tranquilizers. Remember that politics is a luke warm bowl of thin soup.

Livery and Feed

Livery & Feed

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A livery stable, for the benefit of those who never heard of one, was an establishment which catered to horses. It boarded them, doctored them, and bred them, whenever any of these services were required. It also furnished “rigs” — a horse and buggy or perhaps a team, for anyone who wished to ride, rather than walk, about the town or countryside. It was a popular service for traveling men who came into town on the railway train and wanted to call on customers in cross-road communities.

B. Adroit's Profiles in Passion: Herscel Gouda

B. Adroit’s Profiles in Passion: Herscel Gouda

Excerpt: Um, ya, you’re just gonna have to read this one.

ODHBA 2016 Plowing Match

ODHBA 2016 Plowing Match

The Oregon Draft Horse Breeders Association hosted their 50th Anniversary Plowing Match at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center in McMinnville, Oregon on April 9, 2016. Small Farmer’s Journal was lucky enough to attend and capture some of the action to share.

Farm To School Programs Take Root

All aim to re-connect school kids with healthy local food.

UCSC Farm & Garden Apprenticeship

UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden Apprenticeship

UC Santa Cruz is thrilled to welcome applications to the 50th Anniversary year of the UCSC Farm and Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. The 39 apprentices each year arrive from all regions of the US and abroad, and represent a wide spectrum of ages, backgrounds, and interests. We have a range of course fee waivers available to support participation in the Apprenticeship.

Twain Under the Farm Spell

Twain Under the Farm Spell

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In his greatest works — Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi and Huckleberry Finn — Twain offered a contrast and tension between town and countryside, between the web of deals and cons and bustle of activity that the modern world would call decidedly urban, and the hard-scrabble but quiet and ultimately nourishing living on farms. There were four farms that touched Sam Clemens, rural locales that sustained and helped mold him, that reached from his beginnings through the decades of his greatest creative efforts.

New York Horsefarmer Ed Button and his Belgians

New York Horsefarmer: Ed Button and his Belgians

In New York State one does not explore the world of draft horses long before the name of Ed Button is invariably and most respectfully mentioned. Ed’s name can be heard in the conversations of nearly everyone concerned with heavy horses from the most experienced teamsters to the most novice horse hobbyists. His career with Belgians includes a vast catalog of activities: showing, pulling, training, farming, breeding, and driving, which Ed says, “I’ve been doing since I was old enough to hold the lines.”

Rope Tricks

a short piece on rope tricks from the 20th anniversary Small Farmer’s Journal.

Congo Farm Project

Congo Farm Project

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I was at day one, standing outside an old burnt-out Belgian plantation house, donated to us by the progressive young chief of the village of Luvungi. My Congolese friend and I had told him that we would need to hire some workers to help clear the land around the compound, and to put a new roof on the building. I thought we should be able to attract at least 20 workers. Then, I looked out to see a crowd of about 800 eager villagers, each one with their own hoe.

Changing of Seasons

LittleField Notes: Changing of Seasons

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We are blessed who are active participants in the life of soil and weather, crops and critters, living a life grounded in seasonal change. This talk of human connection to land and season is not just the rambling romantic musing of an agrarian ideologue. It is rather the result of participating in the deeply vital vocation that is farming and knowing its fruits first hand.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT