The Great Fencing Project


Anyone who has a farm knows that fencing never ends. We fenced in our meadow bottom last year for the sheep. With the addition of donkeys, a cow, and more little sheep, they promptly outgrew it, forcing us into buying hay through spring as their pasture remained down and out due to over-population and no opportunity to move the sheep so it would have time to grow back.

Hay that costs money.

Pasture eaten down to the ground.

We investigated options including fencing up the hillside–sheep like hillsides. They like to clamber. We actually started working on that option when our neighbor across the river offered us his unused and gorgeous wonderland for an extra pasture.

I always thought this looked like the most beautiful homesite. It’s an approximately 5-acre piece that runs partially between our farm and the river.

The old Indian princess bath is here. Old-timers in Stringtown called this shallow pool in the Pocatalico the Indian princess bath because it was separated from the river’s main path by a rise of rocks.

The river’s very low right now, leaving the Indian princess bath nearly dry. The river’s so low you can cross the river ford on foot without even getting your feet wet.

Frank, our neighbor across the river, keeps the wonderland like a park, mowing and trimming with a zealous dedication that often amazes me as he’s up in his 70s. But Frank is actually a little tired of mowing and since our sheep are natural mowers, he offered them the job.

Frank has a nice wooden fence along part of the property that borders our road. You can see he’s been out recently trimming. He can’t help himself. He is Frank–he must trim! He mows and trims like other people breathe. He has a farm but no animals. He mows his farm. If Frank lived in the suburbs, he’d have the most perfect lawn in town. He’d win awards from garden clubs.

By the way, this is no homesite, as beautiful as it is. A large part of this property floods several times a year, as we discovered after we had lived here for awhile. Not all of it floods–the sheep will have high ground in case of flooding conditions. But enough of it floods that it’s ill-suited for a homesite. The sheep, on the other hand, are gonna love it.

They’ll be eating like kings.

And I don’t know what this is, but it’s completely empty inside and maybe the sheep will think it’s a nice shelter when it’s windy or rainy or cold.

Everything was inspected and examined. New plans were created and I gave Frank some jam. And the Great Fencing Project commenced!

The determination was to go with electric fencing. We have no electric fencing–all our fencing is woven wire and wooden fence posts, dug a laborious hole at a time. (Note that I have no role in this fence post hole digging and all references to “we” in this post are royal except for the occasions that involved chasing down Jack. That was my job.)

But electric fence is cheaper so we put the electric fence up and toddled Jack over there to be the test donkey. After all, Jack moves about as fast as a snail on valium, so he’d be the safest one to test. Jack walked right out of the electric fence.

(Yes, the fence was turned ON. We could have blown up a small country with that fence. But not Jack.)

The troublesome electric fence.

We added another strand of wire. Tried this. Tried that. Every time, Jack the test donkey walked right out of the fence. One time he got out and headed straight for the river ford. I could see Jack heading down the hard road and getting hit by a car. Picture me freaking out. Frank is pretty spry for 70-something, though, and he caught Jack in the nick of time.

Frank likes to hang around just to see if we have any excitement going on, like the opportunity to chase loose animals. Frank’s retired.

Jack’s kinda like Frank. Faster than he looks.

More electric fence work. And more. And more. More test donkeys. Test sheep. Nothing worked. Jack and the sheep kept walking right through the fence. (And the sheep had even been recently sheared! It’s not like they couldn’t feel it!)

Five thousand months later (okay, maybe three months later), the decision was made to break down and go back to woven wire and fence posts. You know, the only thing we know that works.

The fence should be completed this weekend (crossing fingers) and the donkeys and sheep will move over, leaving Beulah Petunia to her home, sweet home, all by herself. (She’s actually going to be moving up near the house, but work on her new milking parlor and fencing ground to a halt while the Great Fencing Project took over the farm.)

Beulah Petunia’s okay with being on her own. She enjoys her solitude and she doesn’t speak to the sheep anyway. They are beneath her. Literally. I’m not sure she knows they’re there.

Our pasture will finally have time to recover while the sheep mow Frank’s land.

Of course, first we have to get the sheep and the donkeys over there, which involves leaving the gate from our pasture, crossing our driveway and walking about 20 feet down the road and into the gate to the new pasture.

The gate to wonderland.

Stay tuned for the herding party. I’m calling Frank.

And I’m putting him in charge of this one.


  1. Nancy in Iowa says:

    What a generous neighbor, even if he does just want his wonderland mowed by the experts! I’m amazed, though, at how resistant your sheep and donkeys are to electricity!


  2. Shelly says:

    Wow there is much work when it comes to animals, that is nice of your neighbor to let your animals eat his grass. :sheepjump:

  3. CindyP says:

    What a wonderful neighbor! You know…it’s so he can say he has a farm now, just like that Suzanne that’s on the internet. 😆 But a wonderful win/win for both of you!

  4. Valerie says:

    That is one great neighbor. I had goats I couldn’t keep in once, but our donkeys stay within the electric fence. Your donkeys and sheep will be eating high on the hog, so to speak. We will, of course, require pictures of Frank and Jester in the next few days.

  5. monica says:

    Talk about the greener grass on the other side of the fence! You are lucky to have such a nice neighbor!

    I am not an electrician, but are you sure all was hooked up right on the fence?? You could test it by putting a finger to it. Just don’t pee on it, though :devil2: :devil2: :devil2: :devil2: .

  6. B. Ruth says:

    Speaking of high on the hog….

    Did I miss something….I have been gone (out of town) a few months!

    I hear about sheep, goats, chickens, donkeys, ducks, cow…..

    I wonder…are the “piggys” in the freezer?

  7. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    We are in the middle of a fencing project right now. It’s been so hot here that we put it on hold but it’s cooler today so we may try to get it finished.

  8. Phyllis says:


  9. Glenie says:

    Sounds like someone other than “We” did a lot of work. Bless him.

  10. Shelly says:

    Oh I know your pain. We never had an electric fence that could keep the sheep or cows in. But it could sure shock the you know what out of me :bugeyed: . Shelly

  11. princessvanessa says:

    My dad has the same type of arrangement going on with his neighbor. That neighbor is the “kid” (now 50) that I grew up with (he bought out his siblings when his folks passed).
    The animals (4 bovine and a goat) know to scurry the 20 or 30 feet from the gate of the depleted pasture to the open gate of the other pasture. They don’t even look back as they rush headlong into the tall, lush grass. Hope your menagerie cooperates with you, as well.

  12. Rebecca says:

    The round cement “shelter” is interesting. It looks like it was maybe government built – any possibility there was ever a military presence in the area? Or Civilian Conservation Corps equipment?

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Rebecca, no. It’s more likely either related to some type of farming structure or the oil and gas industry. Oh–and it’s not made of cement, though it looks like it in the picture–it’s made of some kind of metal.

  13. rileysmom says:

    “We” are smart to stay away from fencing… bites!
    I speak from experience!

  14. Runningtrails says:

    What a great neighbor you have there! You have to do something special for him.

    That looks like a wonderful pasture. They’ll love it!

    Fencing is a farming nightmare. Its a never ending, constant install and repair job but necessary.

    Good luck with the move. I am looking forward to reading about it.

  15. Frogdancer says:

    All that mowing… the kids and I can’t even keep up with our suburban block, let alone a whole farm!

  16. Yankee Gal says:

    Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this post. Such a good neighbor and friend. And that final photo of jester with the tongue out…priceless! 😆

  17. Lori Skoog says:

    Good idea. If the flooding gets bad you can always bring them home. A lot of work, but it will be worth it.

  18. glenda says:

    We have one of those neighbors. We don’t really need the grass but we still use it because she offers each year and I know she enjoys seeing the cows next to her yard.

    I am glad you did regular fencing. Electric makes me nervous; you never know when a power failure or a battery or the charger will fail. Trust me, the animals will discover it before you do.

  19. Angela says:

    :sun: Oh Suzanne, I feel for ya. I recently finished a fencing project too. I used high tensil and electric for my goats,horses and llama. The smaller the animal, the harder they are to keep in! I wonder why the elctric wouldnt work???? I wished we could have afforded the woven wire instead, but for now its working. And, if it aint broke, dont fix it! Looks like a wonderful pasture, well worth the extra work!

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