We recently posted about how amazingly well electric netting works for managing livestock and poultry. This video shows you how happy our mama pigs are as they explore their newest wooded area.
You can see that they are snacking away, completely uncaring about if our arrival is accompanied with food. They do a fantastic job of finding delicious treats and slowly clearing space in the forest floor. This gives us a chance to remove small trees and other growths to ensure a sunnier future for that stretch of woods.
Check out the video below, and enjoy the sweet, subtle sounds of being a pig.
We began our fencing journey solely with cattle panels and chicken wire, and eventually transitioned to electric fencing in places where it made the most sense. We started working with single strand electric, which never worked quite as well as we wanted (except for the cows!), and we decided to make the transition to electric netting for many of our pigs and all of our poultry. It’s the best decision we’ve EVER made here at KW Homestead!
There are so many benefits to working with electric netting… It’s easy to set up and take down, it contains even small piglets and birds, it’s durable and flexible, it never gets tangled (unlike single strand), and many more reasons!
Check out this video to see Jason explaining why electric netting is just the greatest!
Our electric poultry fencing has been an eye-opening experiment so far…
What we’ve learned:
1. Setting up the fencing takes a few hours each time but depending on how large of a space we make, the birds can occupy the space for weeks at a time.
2. The ducks respect the fence, and since getting shocked a few times, have stayed as far away from the fence as possible. Every few days a duck will get spooked, and since we have not clipped their wings, it might fly over by accident. It sometimes takes the poor duck a few hours to get up the nerve to jump back through the fence. They definitely respect the boundaries!
3. The geese are the most respectful of all, never going over and never coming close to the fence.
4. The turkeys are a different story, however! They respect the fence on a hit-and-miss basis, sometimes staying inside the fence and other times taking the shock and climbing through. The most annoying part is that when they have no trouble escaping, they have loads of trouble figuring out how to get back in. We are looking into getting electrified netting to use for the turkeys in the future, but we’ll see!
The big electric-fencing-for-poultry lesson is:
Simple electrified strands work for ducks and geese, but not for turkeys!
April 17, 2015 / Emma / Comments Off on Turning the Shed Into Our New Broodhouse (Upstairs)
Finishing up the upstairs portion of the shed was much less time consuming than predator-proofing the structure and completing the downstairs. I was able to finish this up by myself, which was nice because the drill gun and I got some time to ourselves!
The first thing I did was frame in the area that was going to be the gate inside the upstairs. I did this with old lumber we had lying around and some old tobacco sticks that we found while cleaning out the shed!
Framing and adding wire.
Then I tacked chicken wire on the outside of the frame, essentially walling in the upstairs so the turkeys won’t fall off the ledge!
Then I climbed on up there and used 1 foot chicken wire to cover the gaps in the wooden walls. We decided to do this so that no baby turkeys could climb up on the ledge between the wood and get stuck.
The last (and most fun) thing that I did was make the gate/door out of a cut-up cattle panel that I wrapped in chicken wire.
A gate, what fun!
I made sure that all overlapping wire was tight or woven together, just to be sure that the babies don’t fall through of get stuck.
1. First of all, we decided that utterly free-ranging geese was no longer something we wanted. Too much goose poop in random places (i.e. the carport or even the front porch) that always made me want to scream and then chase them around the yard in frustration. Also, the quartet was often found standing in the road and I don’t need to explain to you just how dangerous that is!
2. We started incubating 14 goose eggs a few weeks ago, but we’re not sure how things will go with them… (Explanation of why we’re unsure is below)
4. We’ve built a new fence for keeping the geese confined. The fence moves every few days (just like their old home that now houses the pigs) and is lower (about 2.5 feet tall). The fence is made of cut cattle panels, that are able to be “stepped in” to the ground so we can change the shape and layout of their area whenever we come across any garden beds or plants that we need to avoid having in their space.
5. During the beginning of their renewed confinement, Audo somehow learned how to climb/fly over the short fence (which was weird since he is the heaviest one) and would escape any time he wanted. After clearing a couple of their favorite yard-nest spots of eggs, and after a few days of only Audo roaming around outside the fence, we discovered that Audo was laying eggs!!!!!!!!!
Which, of course, means that Audo is a female!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, we’ve been operating with the information that Audo was male this entire time, understanding that the rest were females.And now it seem that we might not even have a male at all! There are ways to tell that I will not go into here, but Google it and prepare to be freaked out if you are interested in knowing more about sexing a goose (yes, I did just write those words).
Audo’s femaleness might mean that all of our incubating is for naught, unless another goose has been a male all along!
6. The last goose update was actually meant to be the sole subject of this post, but I got a little bit carried away…
In order to keep Audo inside the fence, we had to clip her wings so she can’t catch enough wind to lift herself over the wire. Clipping a bird’s wings of is not what it might sound like to you (a horrible inhumane act that hurts the bird). Instead, it only involves catching the bird and trimming her feathers, not hurting her at all.
This video is a bit funny, actually, since we hadn’t clipped goose feathers before and we weren’t sure how Audo would respond. Watch and see how we did it…
Jason held her and I did the clipping of just one wing to keep her off balance and to make sure that her flying would be crooked if she ever tried to fly over the fence again. If you try this yourself, be sure to have tin snips to use as scissors, since the heavy duty shears and scissors I used really weren’t tough enough for goose wings!
A few weeks ago we had a wind storm that blew gusts around 50 or 60 miles per hour. We never, in our wildest dreams, would have thought that the chicken fence would act like a sail and fold up onto itself like a fan:
Since we get our water from a well, our water doesn’t work when the power doesn’t. We utterly forgot to worry about this, and so when we woke up yesterday to find that our power was out, we realized that we had to find a way to get water for our ducks to drink. We decided that melting snow next to the wood stove was the best bet…
Jason scooping snow into “the bathtub” to put by the wood stove.
And we also forgot to remove the netting from the chicken pen to keep the snow from sticking to it…
The netting became so heavy with snow that it deformed the fence!
Luckily none of the netting ripped!
Yes, that’s a blanket of snow on top of our bird netting!
Even after all the cleanup and repairs we had to do, it still is lovely to have a blanket of snow on the ground. I’m still not sick of winter yet, not when we have views like this…
And of course, the geese were not phased by the situation at all and continued to bathe throughout the freezing temperatures!
They don’t look quite as white as they used to, do they?
Yesterday and today have been pig-filled days… Tonight we ate pigs-in-a-blanket while watching an awesome video about butchering pigs, but not until after we finished creating the wind-and-snow-proof, new pig hideaway. Our original fence was working just fine for mild weather, but we knew that we need something a lot sturdier and weather proof considering the incoming 6+ inches of snow!
The side of the shelter. Old doors we found in the barn are lashed down for sturdy wind breaks… Emma’s idea! The 2 perpendicular sides of the shelter are situated like this.
The 3rd side of their shelter… A partial cattle panel with a tarp wrapped around it for blocking the wind. This side runs diagonally across one corner of their pen… This was Jason’s idea!
The one small opening they have for getting in and out… This minimizes the wind and snow that can fly in!
Looking in at the pigs from a little peep hole in the opposite corner from their entrance… We’ve stuffed it with hay so they can fully bury themselves if desired (since they love this so much!).
Fencing is an integral part of farming, homesteading and permaculture. But there is more to a fence than just a boundary or barrier.
By laying out fencing, you create an element on the landscape that you can now design off of. Instead of having a blank canvas (sometimes the hardest thing) you have a structure that can be used and integrated into your homestead or permaculture design.
Fences create, define and reinforce zones and actvity centers. They can be also be used as trellises or in creative ways like chicken moats.
Once these sort of elements appear on your property, it becomes easier to build out around them and add other elements that coalesce into your design. An example would be: this fence divides the garden and the chickens, we need gates here, we could have 2 dwarf trees on either side of the gate, comfrey at the base, and vegetables trellised up the fence.
The next iteration of elements seems to spill out form the edges of the first, just like a forest with an advancing front of blackberries and other woody plants. I’m so excited about our new cattle panel fence, and the future of our homestead design, that I recorded this quick video today.
Bolt has a new fence! We built him a cattle panel and t-post fence in the backyard so he can stretch his legs a bit and burn off some extra energy.
bolt enjoying his new fenced in area
We used 16 foot welded wire cattle panels to enclose approximately 1/6 acre. We secured them to 6.5 ft. metal t posts that were pounded a few feet into the ground with a heavy duty post driver. A pair of bolt cutters helped to make three easy access gates, 1 to the garden, 1 to the corn crib/wood shed, and 1 to the side yard.
cattle panels make great fences for sloped land and small spaces
This fence also fences in our backyard food forest, and forms 1 edge of a future garden fence/chicken moat. I for one am excited to do some more fencing on the property, particularly fencing that establishes and defines permaculture zones and use areas. The fencing also can serve as a trellis for grapes, air potatoes, kiwis and even annual climbing vines.
I highly recommend cattle panel fencing to any homesteader out there needing to fence in a small area. They are easy to put up, take down, and last for decades. Stay tuned for a more in depth post on exactly how 1 person can put up a whole lot of fence in a short period of time with cattle panels.
We have a new batch of cattle panels at the homestead ready and waiting to be put to use. Cattle panels are a versatile farm tool and can be used for fencing, trellising, flood gates, or even greenhouses. They are 16 feet long, about 4 feet high and have rows of welded 5 gauge steel wire that make 6 or 4 inch boxes. These babies are strong, and with some t-posts, can fence in/out bulls, goats, dogs, and men.
16 foot cattle panels and t-posts will make up bolt’s new fence
We have used these panels as part of our movable chicken coop, and our portable goose enclosure. It’s easy to tie chicken wire or bird netting to the panels as an extra later of protection for small animals and birds. The panels are sturdy enough to stand on their own if made into a small square or circle, but light enough that 1 person can heft them from place to place.
We’re going to use these new panels to fence in a section of our backyard as a dog yard for Bolt. We’ll pound in 6.5 ft. t-posts and create an area that he can safely run around and exercise in. This will also fence in some of our food forest, and form one part of a future garden fence–a chicken moat perhaps.
These panels should last 50 years easily and are well worth the 16-20 dollar cost. They hold their value well, and used ones never seem to sell for much of a discount, so they make a good homestead investment and definitely deserve a place on small farms across the country.