Small Farmer's Journal

Facebook  YouTube

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

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: Farming Systems & Approaches

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

Biodynamic Meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm

by:
from issue:

One weekend I attended a Biodynamic meeting at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Farm in Dorena, Oregon, in the Row River Valley, just east of Cottage Grove. I always enjoy seeing other food growing operations, as this is such an infinitely broad subject, there is always much to learn from others’ experiences. At this farm, draft horses are used for much of the work.

TMAHK Tripod Haymaking

The Milk and Human Kindness: What I’ve Learned of Tri-Pod Haymaking

by:
from issue:

I have no doubt that when the time comes we are going to need to know how to make hay this way, whether it be this Proctor Tripod method, or the French rack method illustrated in André Voisin’s great book “Grass Productivity” or the Scandinavian “Swedish Rider” method of tightly strung wire “fences” for hay to dry on. Each method has its pros and cons, and it’s my belief that the “Swedish Riders” is the easiest to learn and the Proctor Method may be the most difficult.

Starting Seeds

From Dusty Shelves: A WWII era article from Farming For Security

Littlefield Notes Fall 2012

Littlefield Notes: Fall 2012

by:
from issue:

Why horses? We are knee deep in threshing oats and rye when I find after lunch that the tractor won’t start. Press the ignition switch — nothing; not even a click. I cancel the day’s threshing and drive thirty miles to the tractor store and pick up a genuine-after-market IH part. Come home, put in the new ignition switch and still nothing. When we need the horses they start right up, without complaint — every time.

The Woodfired Bottom-heated Greenhouse Bench

Cultivating Questions: The Woodfired Bottom-heated Greenhouse Bench

It took several incarnations to come up with a satisfactory design for the bottom heated greenhouse bench. In the final version we used two 55 gallon drums welded end-to-end for the firebox and a salvaged piece of 12” stainless steel chimney for the horizontal flue. We learned the hard way that a large firebox and flue are necessary to dissipate the intense heat into the surrounding air chamber and to minimize heat stress on these components.

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

Fjordworks A History of Wrecks Part 3

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 3

Working with horses can and should be safe and fun and profitable. The road to getting there need not be so fraught with danger and catastrophe as ours has been. I hope the telling of our story, in both its disasters and successes will not dissuade but rather inspire would-be teamsters to join the horse-powered ranks and avoid the pitfalls of the un-mentored greenhorn.

Cayuse Vineyards

Small Farm, USA: Cayuse Vineyards

by:
from issue:

How did the grape find itself here on the outskirts of Milton? If you ask one man, Christophe Baron, the answer is simple. “It’s the cobblestone. (The ground) reminds me of home”. For Christophe, home refers to France and the stone littered earth from which many famous French wines grow. Hailing from a family of vigneron champenois, Mr. Baron came upon this corner of the state by chance, saw its signature geology, and decided to establish his domaine right here in northeast Oregon.

A Year of Contract Grazing

A Year of Contract Grazing

by:
from issue:

Contract grazing involves the use of livestock to control specific undesirable plants, primarily for ecological restoration and wildfire prevention purposes. The landowners we worked for saw grazing as an ecologically friendly alternative to mowing, mechanical brush removal, and herbicide application.

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 1

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 1

I am certainly not the most able of dairymen, nor the most skilled among vegetable growers, and by no means am I to be counted amongst the ranks of the master teamsters of draft horses. If there is anything remarkable about my story it is that someone could know so little about farming as I did when I started out and still manage to make a good life of it.

The Forcing of Plants

The Forcing of Plants

by:
from issue:

It is always advisable to place coldframes and hotbeds in a protected place, and particularly to protect them from cold north winds. Buildings afford excellent protection, but the sun is sometimes too hot on the south side of large and light-colored buildings. One of the best means of protection is to plant a hedge of evergreens. It is always desirable, also, to place all the coldframes and hotbeds close together, for the purpose of economizing time and labor.

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.

LittleField Notes Seed Irony

LittleField Notes: Seed Irony

by:
from issue:

They say to preserve them properly, seeds should be kept in a cool, dark place in a sealed, dry container. Yet the circumstances under which seeds in a natural environment store themselves (so to speak) seem so far from ideal, that it’s a wonder plants manage to reproduce at all. But any gardener knows that plants not only manage to reproduce, they excel at it. Who hasn’t thrown a giant squash into the compost heap in the fall only to see some mystery squash growing there the next summer?

Cuban Agriculture

Cuban Agriculture

by:
from issue:

In December of 1979, Mary Jo and I spent two weeks traveling in Cuba on a “Farmer’s Tour of Cuba”. The tour was a first of its kind. It was organized in the U.S. by farmers, was made up of U.S. farmers and agriculturally oriented folks, and was sponsored in Cuba by A.N.A.P., the National Association of Independent Farmers. As we learned about farming we also learned how the individuals, farms, and communities we visited fit into the greater social and economic structure of Cuba.

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 1

Our mild climate makes it too easy to overwinter cover crops. Then the typically wet springs (and, on our farm, wet soils) let the cover put on loads of topgrowth before getting on the soil. Buckwheat is the only crop that I can be certain will winterkill. Field peas, oats, annual rye and crimson clover have all overwintered here. Any suggestions?

The Way To The Farm

Lise Hubbe stops mid-furrow at plowing demonstration for Evergreen State College students. She explains that the plow was going too deep…

Cultivating Questions A Horsedrawn Guidance System

Cultivating Questions: A Horsedrawn Guidance System

Market gardening became so much more relaxing for us and the horses after developing a Horsedrawn Guidance System. Instead of constantly steering the horses while trying to lay out straight rows or cultivate the vegetables, we could put the team on autopilot and focus our whole attention on these precision tasks. The guidance system has been so effective that we have trusted visiting chefs to cultivate the lettuce we planned on harvesting for them a few weeks later.

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

We were inspired to try no-tilling vegetables into cover crops after attending the Groffs’ field day in 1996. No-tilling warm season vegetables has proved problematic at our site due to the mulch of cover crop residues keeping the soil too cool and attracting slugs. We thought that no-tilling garlic into this cover crop of oats and Canadian field peas might be the ticket as garlic seems to appreciate being mulched.

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