Monday, April 13, 2015

Pulling Fence

I pulled paddock division fencing yesterday.

I have no pictures.  It is rough, dirty work.  Digital cameras hate mud and grit.  I did not want the bother of keeping the little, red camera safe.

At one time the ERJ pasture was subdivided into six paddocks.  We practiced semi-MIG...MIG stands for Management Intensive Grazing.  MIG is the art of integrating the growth patterns of pasture plants and the nutritional needs of the animals to their mutual benefit.  It is highly dependent on being able to control the animals.

A fence is a way of controlling animals.  It is a barrier to an unwanted behaviors.  As such, it is a superb metaphor for "laws".

The art of fencing

Barriers exist in the mind.  It is virtually impossible to contain an animal, or a herd, that continually pressures the fence.  The fence will fail.

The ideal fence provides both a visual and a pain barrier.

Vendors of fencing suggest that you introduce the animals to the fence when it has optimum effectiveness.  For an electric fence and sheep, that would be early spring, after they have been shorn and while the ground is very damp.  Early spring is also when there is the least amount of parasitic losses due to tall grass and weeds leaning on the fence.

Spread some feed near the fence to ensure that a significant number of them will brush up against it.  Let nature take its course.

The best laid plans of mice and men

I am probably the only "farmer" who will admit that I failed in the execution of this procedure.  I had a mixed flock of sheep and a couple of beef critters.  The ewes outran the beeves and were mopping up the corn.  The beeve strolled up to the corn and, with one casual swat with its head, bowled a 200 pound ewe right through the fence.

Fence down.  Sheep followed "Ma" the ewe through the gap.

One must have a sense of humor to be a farmer.

Wild animals

Electric fences are also used to control wild animals.  Nearly always, the goal is to keep wild animals out.

In general, wild animals are ten times more crafty and motivated than domestic animals.  They are more of a challenge.

The suggestion for deer is to hang an aluminum pie pan on a hot wire of the fence and to smear peanut butter on the pan.

The suggestion for predators, especially in areas subject to drought, is to alternate hot and ground wires and to have the spacing such that the animal's head will bridge the gap.  Ideally, the animal (usually a coyote) will be pushing down on a ground wire with its lower jaw as it pushes through and it will complete the circuit when its ears hit the hot wire.

In both cases, the deer and the coyote, the shock passes through the animal's brain stem.  The brain stem is responsible for involuntary reactions.  Making an impression on the brain stem "patterns" a response that transcends conscious thought.  It will not allow the animal to approach the fence.  Ever.

Each new generation of animals, domestic and wild, must be trained to respect the fence.


Modern, low impedance fence chargers "pulse".  This is done for several reasons.

A high energy pulse will create a high voltage spike in a fence even when the fence is compromised by a "soft" short, like grass and weeds touching it.

A pulsing fence is safer because it gives the animal (or person) time to "get off" the fence in the pauses between pulses.

From a behavior standpoint, a continuous fence is easily tested.  It is either "hot" or it is "not".  A pulsing fence is not that easy for the animals to figure out.  They might brush up against it when it is not active and they will still jump away.  They assume they brushed it during the majority of the second when the fence is not hot.

Back to pulling fence

A fence that is severely compromised will teach animals to test fences.  Since the barrier exists in the animal's mind, a decrepit paddock division fence teaches the animals to disrespect the perimeter fence.

I made the strategic decision to yank the divisions and focus my efforts and resources on the perimeter.

Too many laws

Pulling fence is rough work.  It is not work that fully engages my mind. 

So I started playing with the metaphor, laws-as-fences.

It is clear to me that we have too many laws.  We will never have enough resources to fully enforce all of our laws. 

The Juvenile Justice system does not make a strong "training" impression on the one who is testing.  The nascent brain stem is patterned to associate breaking laws with attention, clean offices and "counseling" by attractive, young social workers.

I recently read an essay that claimed that crime clearance rates have been on a long, slow slide since 1960.  It used this data as a springboard to claim that cops are slackers.

More likely, the clearance rate is due to lack of community support for solving crimes.  It is a referendum on our kaleidoscope of laws.

The 1960s was when Adam-12 debuted.  Two vanilla-white cops rescued cats from trees and gave wayward youths stern talks.  The total number of rounds-expended for an entire season was less than one character, in one episode of a modern cop show.  Policing is more confrontational now than it was back in the 1960s because the people who could contribute information to solving crimes do not agree with the laws.

Disrespecting one fence makes it easier to test the next one.

Perhaps the answer is to abandon many of the internal paddock fences and devote those resources on fortifying the perimeter against the barbarians.

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