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"Your cows are out!"

If you have ever gotten that phone call in the middle of the night, on the holidays, or on Sunday while you are at church.... then you definitely know the feeling. The "OH S**T" feeling, especially if you live in a more densely populated area or near a busy road.

We used to get phone calls like this all the time... before we had our perimeter fences redone. We do have close neighbors, and we do live near a busy road that semis travel a lot. So it could be a little nerve racking, especially if calves were out in the herd at the time. The stories I could tell about chasing cows... oh boy. However that's not the point of this posting.

We have people interested in Dexters come and visit our farm fairly often. Many of them have never had cows or livestock and would like to try and be more sustainable. However, they aren't set up to have livestock. Most don't realize the infrastructure that can be needed: fencing (electric or not), watering system that can be used year round, feed sources, and at the very least a wind break. We try and educate the new buyers so they aren't diving into something they aren't even close to be ready to handle, even at the risk of losing a sale. Fencing, in our mind, is a big deal because we've gone through our own trials with the stuff.

We sure didn't start out with the best fencing in the world and it didn't get super improved until the mid/late 90s. When we originally fenced our property, we didn't use anything special. We used 17ga wire and had 2-3 strands around the perimeter with cross fences to separate the pastures into more manageable areas since we do rotational grazing. However, for those cross fences we tried using woven plastic wire and finally learned after awhile that it didn't pack enough of a punch because it didn't carry the electric current very well. The calves would really test that fence and we would always be out fixing it... a giant headache. We did eventually transition to a heavier gauged wire for all the fencing but in our area we have whitetail deer... and lots of them. They would rip our fences apart and our cows would always find the hole and take a tour of the neighborhood, usually at the most inconvenient times like I mentioned at the beginning.

Eventually we decided to go to hi-tensile fencing and it has saved us many headaches. We haven't had the deer rip it down ever. We have even been able to question the people calling... asking "what color are the cows?" The usual answer... "black and white." Its always nice when you can say "nope those aren't mine!" A relief to say the least. Currently we run a 5 strand hi-tensile fence with the bottom wire not charged because we tend to have some standing water,heavily weedy, or uneven areas.

This helps keep that charge zapping and let me tell you the cows check to see if that fence is on. Most are too smart for their own good. We still have cross fencing and use 14 ga wire, usually 2 strands but we do have some with only 1. Our calves still seem find the weak spots, but at least they aren't galavanting around the neighborhood... for the most part.

Now, on a rare occasion do we get those phone calls. Usually if we do its because someone forgot to plug that fencer back in after being out in the pasture and the cows figured it out. Like I said, too smart for their own good but we wouldn't trade them for any other breed.

~Until next time

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