October 01, 2010


Robert Frost somewhere wrote that "good fences make good neighbors." Anyone who has a problem with that idea probably hasn't spent a lot of times around farm animals--especially goats--and gardens.

Farming is, after all, a kind of a game in which the farmers win if they keep critters from going where they don't want them to go and the critters win if the get there. Which is where the fencing comes in.

A few years back, we broke down and installed a five strand electric fence around our goat pasture. For a while, the goats didn't recognize its legitimacy and challenged it, shocks and all. Then they just got used to it. We hardly ever have it on now, unless Honeysuckle, the ornery kid goat, gets too frisky.

It occurred to me that the effectiveness of fences isn't really a function of how hard they are to get over or through. Fences are often more about appearance than reality. It reminds me of the famous lines from Sun Tzu's Art of War: "All warfare is based on deception." So, I'd wager, is most fencing.

Most of the time, most animals don't really make a detailed study of the fence and its weak points or even probe for weaknesses. If they did, they'd have a good chance of getting where they wanted to go.

It also occurs to me that the same is true of people. We don't challenge a lot of the "fences" that hold us in, even though it's likely they have places that are not nearly as strong as they seem to be.

ONE NATION WORKING TOGETHER. This Saturday, thousands of progressives will converge on Washington in support of a positive agenda to move the country forward. Yours truly will be among them, after boarding a bus at 3:00 AM Saturday morning (yuk). My back is hurting already.

SIGN OF THE TIMES. NPR reports that more families are "doubling up" in the wake of the Great Recession.


NO SURPRISE. The latest WV Kids Count report finds that children in the southern coalfield counties are poorer than those in the rest of the state.

MONKEY IN THE MIRROR. It looks like they see themselves, which raises questions about primate self-awareness.

WHAT MAKES A GROUP SMART? Apparently not smart individuals.



Hollowdweller said...

I had a huge gap where the creek washed out the fence behind the barn.

Eventually the goats found it and started getting out.

The funny part was Pete the Pyr has been so trained to stay in the pasture that he stayed inside barking because they were out! Twice they got out before I fixed it and Pete never even offered to try to escape.

The downside is it's even hard to get him to go down into the lower pasture with them I normally keep the gate closed on because he's so trained!

Hollowdweller said...

PS that's a beautiful fence. Perfectly spaced IMO. You guys did a great job puttin it up!

We are the "jack leg" fencers. We did sink a few treated posts for the corners of our pasture fences but most of the rest are 2x2 strips lag bolted to the trees with insulators on them or steel T posts.

El Cabrero said...

Most of it doesn't look that way, especially the parts we've had to repair due to trees falling and such. Plus, we're probably going to have to move some posts due to erosion.

Hollowdweller said...

The part by my barn is really eroded where they go up the hill there.

I really want to change the fence there and gate them off and put an entrance at a more gently sloped part so they don't tear it up so bad.

Is that not hi tensile? Do you mean you repaired the fence or the posts? My Hi Tensile 14 gauge has been smashed to the ground numerous times and never broke!