Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Herb and the Amazing Honey-Do Pasture Fence

This post began with the soggy wet winter of 2012 when we realized that we couldn't keep our livestock in the barnyard another winter.  It's too small for our growing herd, and without gutters on the barn, all the rain gets channeled into the barnyard, leaving the animals standing in mud for much of the winter.

The obvious answer was to create a new pasture by fencing in the north edge of the property.  On this map of our pastures, the new fence line would go along the upper edge of the property from about the middle all the way to the lefthand corner (enclosing the white area that says "2.00 acres" and has a largish pink building with a branching green driveway.)  That area was already mostly fenced on three sides, the bottom (marked by x's) and the two ends where it joins the green and pink areas.

The idea was that this new pasture could double as a winter sacrifice area, still being handy to the barnyard for milking and feed storage.  I decided that we would name it Kara's Pasture and give the existing Kara's Pasture (in yellow) a new and very prosaic name, Middle Pasture.  My pasture names aren't very creative, but they tend to be fairly obvious and don't lend themselves to being misconstrued.

So on Dec. 17, 2013, Herb set to work with me as his assistant.  The first job was to walk the proposed fence line, find the surveyor's marks, and mark a trajectory for the new fence.  There was a lot of brush to be cleared away, including lots of rusted old fence that had grown into several trees.

By Dec. 31 we had cleared and marked all the open area and gone on into the patch of woods.

Here we're heading back to the house after finishing work for the day.  This new Kara's Pasture was going to be possible because Kara had moved to town and her old double-wide had finally been demolished.  The crew had finished the job by putting new gravel on the road to fill in the ruts left by their heavy equipment.  The gap across the road here and about 10 feet behind the barn were all that would need to be fenced on one end.  "All" that remained was about 900 feet along the edge of the hunting preserve, and we would have a pasture.

As things turned out, the pasture would not be finished in time for the winter of 2013.  Herb's classes started up again in January along with a busy counseling internship, and the fence was relegated to his Honey-Do List.  Finally, on May 12 (two days after graduation) he set to work--and promptly threw his back out!  After I finally dragged him to the chiropractor he felt better and began work in earnest on May 19.  By the 23rd he had finished the part of the fence in the open and was into the trees.

It may have been a relief in one sense to leave the hot open pasture, but working in the woods brought Herb its own set of challenges:  steep terrain, lots of brush to drag the cattle panels and fence posts through, and poison ivy.  By this time there wasn't much I could help with, not having the strength to drag stuff through the brush, so it became a one man job.

As Herb finished one section of fence he would move his bright orange hay string ahead and start on the next section.  Nine hundred feet can seem very long when the end isn't even in sight!

When Herb got towards the end I was able to be of a little assistance again, although I was milking Siobhan twice a day (since Wellie was born on May 26).  At least I could drive through the Middle Pasture in the Doodad and bring Herb ice water or drive him back to the house for lunch.

This flat area at the bottom of the hill with the creek on the left has always been one of my favorite spots.  I call it the "Billy and Blaze Trail" because it reminds me of a lane Billy might have ridden his pony along.  It's sure to be a favorite shady loafing area for the animals in the summer.

By May 30, Herb was setting the corner posts to tie the bottom of the new fence into the Back Pasture fence. 

Misty and Hero (you can see his white chest behind the wire) were Herb's constant and faithful companions, burrowing into the coolest places they could find and laying there panting until he was done for the day.

On May 31, the herculean task was done!  A solid line of cattle panels and T-posts ran all the way up to the barn and tied in behind it.

A sturdy section of 5-strand barbed wire fence crossed the creek bed, secured to a T-post in the middle.
Closing that last gap between the cattle panels and the barbed wire section was a momentous occasion!

My hero!

All that remained was to install and fill the water tanks at the new hydrant.

Kara's Pasture was ready for occupants!

The garage, re-sided with cement fiber and painted, was all that remained of Kara's old house.  A car port on the far side will provide cover for hay bales and animals during the coming winter.  Seeing the house demolished had been bitter sweet for us, but having the pasture finished was pure joy!

This pasture is great because it goes right up to the round pen and barnyard, so it's got easy access.  Hay bales are kept in the silver barn (far right), so it will be a short hop with the tractor to get them under the carport.

Most of Kara's Pasture is on high ground so it will drain well in winter, too.  While we plan to feed the horses their hay under the carport, we'll probably move hay bales for the cattle around in different places, wherever the pasture needs organic matter built up.  That way any hay that falls and is trampled in won't be wasted, but will enrich the soil.

Here are Ebby, over by the water tank, and Macree, under the tree, enjoying the new pasture on June 3.  Who knows where Tiggy is in all the long grass?

When we moved Ebby and her gang into Kara's Pasture on June 3, we had it temporarily closed off right beyond where Siobhan is in the photo above.  But we needed a real gate, so on June 14 Herb finished setting the posts for the new gate, which closes the gap across the driveway that runs between the barnyard and the Home Pasture.  We've left the temporary gate up at the other end because this allows Siobhan to get out and graze a bit in the "gap," usually in the evening since there's no shade.

With the gate, Kara's Pasture is complete, and the biggest item on Herb's Honey-Do List has been scratched off!  Now we can move animals from the barnyard to any one of our other pastures--or between any two pastures--without them ever going outside a fenced area.  That is very reassuring! All five pastures have shade and water hydrants, and four of them have shelter, too.  There will be no more long hoses running from the house down to the Lower Pasture and the Middle Pasture in the summer; no more hauling water down in the winter.

To re-cap, here's the original map of our pastures.

Here's the new map. The Middle Pasture has its new name, and Kara's Pasture (minus its house) is added to our list of pastures.

I just thought of a better name for it, though . . .  How about the "Amazing Honey-Do Pasture?"

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