Who knew there was so much to think about when fencing your property! It’s fairly expensive, so you want to do it right the first time around, especially when you have a larger piece of land. Most importantly you need to consider functionality, maintenance and cost factors. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before fencing your farm.
1. What type of animals do you have currently, AND, what type do you want to have in the future?
This is important because when installing permanent fencing you don’t want to have to go back and make changes. (Yeah, we learned the hard way.)My daughter and I ended up adding about 200 ft. of wire fencing to the new fence line to create a goat safe paddock. It wasn’t that hard, but it did take effort to pull the wire taut before hammering the staple into the post. If we had known we would end up with goats, I might have made a different decision and had the perimeter done with woven wire. Different animals require different types of fencing. Horses and cows are fairly easy and most will respect even simple fencing. Our mare will stay away from a single strand of electric rope even when it’s not electrified! While I have visited farms that use high tensile wire fencing, the horses can get their legs caught and twisted up in the wire which is worrisome.
Goats, on the other hand, are expert escape artists and need a good, wire fence that is as close to the ground as you can get it. They will try to squeeze their heads under any opening they find! If you only have goats you can get woven wire fence with 4in square openings, however, if you also have horses you don’t want their hooves getting caught in the openings so you have to go with no climb wire fencing which has 2in x 4in openings.
If you are trying to keep deer out of your vegetable garden, you will need a fence that is at least 7ft high. And with chickens or ducks, ugh, only hardware cloth that is buried at least 2ft into the ground will prevent fox and other predators from getting to your birds.
2. Are you able to do any of the fencing yourself or do you need to hire a contractor to do the work? Installing fence posts can be doable if you rent a post hole digger from your local machine rental store. (Home Depot even has the single and two person hand held post digger!) If you have the time to dedicate to this project, or perhaps you just have a smaller footage to get done, this is definitely the way to go to save money. If you dig the hole 3ft deep and tamp the dirt in very well around the post, you don’t need to put concrete in every post, just the ones holding the gate. We had over 2000ft of fencing and so we hired a contractor who drove the post into the ground with his tractor. He didn’t use concrete at all. However, some of the posts he had to replace and/or move, so for those holes he just dug the hole and tamped it in. And I’ve had no issues with those posts budging at all.
3. Is your fence going to affect the look of your home? This is important to ask if your fencing is easily seen from the road. I really wanted to do three board fencing – for the looks, even though what I really needed was board and wire fence. (That is a wire fence stapled to the wooden posts, with a single board running along the top.) I ended up doing the board and wire down one side of the property that was in the woods and wasn’t highly visible. But the rest of the perimeter got the three board. I would have preferred using board and wire here for functionality, but in addition to looks, cost was also a deterrent.
4. Wood, Vinyl, Wire? There are many choices when it comes to material. I looked at post and rail PVC fencing, for example, which is wonderful because it doesn’t require much maintenance – just powerwash. But it is also pricier. We went with the wooden posts and oak boards. Some of the oak boards did warp, but overall I’m happy with the appearance. One thing to be aware of – our boards were rough sawn oak boards. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but after it was installed I realized it had rather jagged and sharp edges. Um, yes, that is what rough sawn means…it just didn’t register when the contractor told me that was what he was bringing. Makes you think twice about climbing over the fence! HAHA! Oh, we still do it all the time, but you’ve got to be careful not to drag your leg on the board or slide your bottom on it when jumping off!
Unfortunately, our horses didn’t get the memo and we found a big wad of horse tail stuck in one of boards where it had splintered at the top. Clearly, they were rubbing their behinds to get at an itchy spot and lost a bit of their tail in the process – poor things! The horses do rub their necks and face on the board sometimes too. So now, in addition to painting the fence boards, I also need to sand the top edge so it isn’t so jagged. Just some things for you to think about before you fence! I sure wish I had!
I know most people like to run an electric wire along the fence to keep the horses from chewing on the boards or rubbing on them and breaking them – but there is something nice about having them come right up to the fence to visit. Plus, I like the idea of having a fence line that the kids can climb up on and the horses can lean over.
Another tip for material choice – when buying wire fencing choose the woven wire over the welded wire! Welded wire fence doesn’t hold up as well as woven. Sure, you pay more up front, but at least you have peace of mind that it will last and you won’t be replacing it anytime soon.
Electric fencing is a great inexpensive option, however, you will have to be diligent about making sure that it is charged and working – which will include daily checks and making sure that weeds and other greenery don’t short the fence line.
Girlnboots Fencing: There are a lot of choices and many solutions to your fencing quest! Let me share a little bit about how we fenced our farm. We ended up using a combination of three board, board and wire, electric and high tensile! And we learned a WHOLE lot in the process. We used three board on most of our perimeter, and we ran it down our driveway and around our backyard, then it stopped at the other side of our house.
Basically, I wanted to enclose the backyard space that would be used as our vegetable garden and fruit orchard. This backyard area also needed to be protected from deer. So every third post that went into the ground was tall and stood 7ft high, whereas all the other posts were at 4.5 ft. This allowed us to string one strand of high tensile wire along the super tall posts all around the backyard to deter deer from jumping over our fence and eating up our organic veggies! You can kind of make out the curved backyard fence on the right side of the photo below.
We used electric fencing to make smaller pastures within our property for rotational grazing. And also in this picture, we had to make very small paddocks when our horse was injured and she wasn’t allowed to run. Another great use for temporary electric is to keep horses out of pasture areas that are being reseeded, or might be unsafe for grazing for any reason – basically, just invest in some electric fence supplies, it is very handy.
I also wanted a track for the horses to use to be able to access the different pastures from their run-in shed. I’ve always admired the Paddock Paradise book and tried to set up something similar here. So, we used electric to make a 14ft wide track running down one side of the property. The track ended up with the board and wire on one side and electric on the other. This works very well for our horses.
To be honest, it’s a whole lot easier to decide fencing needs AFTER you have your animals on the property and are living and using the space. Unfortunately, this is not always possible since you need fencing in place before you can bring the animals in!
My husband’s main goal was to have an animal-free zone around our house…Little did he know my daughter would walk the horse right up to the hose spigot!
But even though we had to go back and make minor alterations, spending time planning and drawing it out on our plat really helped us understand the flow and visualize our needs and space.
Good luck on your fencing adventures!