Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chasing pigs is good exercise

So I decided to move the pigs from their 10x10 dog kennel to the pasture, finally. While the moving process itself wasn't too bad, the next few hours were quite an adventure.

I had always planned to keep them in the dog kennel only temporarily so they could tear up the ground for my asparagus planting. I set up a large area for them to graze afterwards, secured by electric fencing and featuring a hog house made of pallets.

Loose, fertilized soil ready for planting
Well, the thing is, I could never really get that electric fence to work. I tried everything, too. I strung up wires according to directions, laid in a ground pole, hooked the energizer to the wires and.... nothing. So then I added two more 6' ground poles. Nothing. I hooked the positive wires to two of the fence lines instead of one. Well, now I'm getting a tiny bit of juice, but not nearly enough to provide a shock, and I felt nothing a mere 20 feet away. I even tried the different methods they suggested for a shock that occurs when two lines are touched (for larger animals) verses setting it up for just one line. Nothing.

I read through the directions about 10 more times, following everything to the letter, and still nothing. I did see a nice warning (that should have been on the outside of the freaking box) saying that dry or sandy soil will not work with an electric fence. I imagine that's the problem (I live on Sand Mountain, afterall), so it looks like I'll be taking back the energizer box and whatever else I can. I may end up selling it on Craigslist if the store won't take it back.

The pigs are already getting to work in the new pen
I knew the electric fence wasn't going to work so I went out and bought a spool of barbed wire for about 1/5th the price of that electric fence. I've heard of people securing pigs with barbed wire, although it was a stretch. (get it? Oooh farm humor)

I set up two lines all the way along the fence line: one at ground level and one about 6 inches higher. Sarah and I transported the pigs in a dog carrier (carried in a wheelbarrow) and got the pigs across the wire fence quite easily. Piece of cake, right?

Well, yes, until the pig just darted right over the 6" line of barbed wire and directly into our garden.

So I figured we'd scare it back and run another line of barbed wire a bit higher. Not a huge issue, unless you consider the fact that I'm supposed to be working (and work backs up quite easily if I take any time away from the computer) and Sarah needs to leave to take the baby to the doctor in 30 minutes. We chased those pigs all over that yard getting them back into their pen four or five times before realizing that we just couldn't keep doing that.

Finished fence (for now)
Trooper that my wonderful wife is, she strung up another line of wire on one side while I watched the baby and caught up on work demands, then she left for the appointment. When I had a bit of a break in my work day, I went out and finished it up. Now the pigs have been on their side of the fence for over a day without escaping, so I sure hope this works for good. I'll probably run another line or two a few inches higher before they get bigger, but for now, it's working. Fingers crossed!

This experience has taught me a few things. One, electric fencing is expensive crap. Two, barbed wire is the duct tape of fencing; It's cheap and does the job if you throw enough of it at a problem.

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