Gone are the days of the Sheppard, who with the help of a dog, takes their flock around the countryside grazing unfenced areas, at least here in North America.   Here we are expected to control the ranging of our animals and we rely on fences to keep them where they should be.

One of our biggest initial investments when we started our farm was putting in a 10 acre fenced pasture directly beside our barn in preparation for grazing. The norm at the time was woven wire also called  page wire, with a single run of barbed wire along the top.  Pagewire is the galvanized wire fencing  that has wire squares about 6 inches high and a foot long, about 8 squares high or 40 inches tall. It was stretched between permanent wooden posts and you had to put strong braces at corners and gaps in the fencing for gates. It cost us thousands of dollars and weeks of backbreaking labor digging fence posts to put in the 6 inch cedar posts by hand (to save money as we had no tractor or post hole digger)all around the ten acres. My husband had assured me that it was worth it as it was a very long term investment. Imagine my dismay when within 2 years he was cutting new gates in it; it was sagging in places and the sheep in particular were bending up the bottom of the wire as they reached under it for tasty morsels on the other side.  We tried several different “fixes”, adding posts, retightening stretches of fence, until finally electric fencing technology was available and we used it first to run a single wire on insulators at the bottom of the inside of the fence in places to keep the sheep back. Eventually we ended running an electric wire along the top of the fence to keep the horses from leaning over the fence and breaking it down. But within ten years we had started the process of replacing it with stretches of electric fence and eventually all of it was replaced.

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