Saturday, August 14, 2021

Maintaining the pasture fence

Little Boy Blue come blow your horn,

The sheep in the meadow, the cows in the corn

Where is the little boy who watches the sheep?

He's under the haystack, fast asleep

Much of today was spent maintaining fences for the pastures.

The cattle were not in the corn, the were in the potato patch. It could have been worse. They were not in the road. The good news is that they preferred the weeds to the potato vines.

Nevertheless, the fence had a "hard" short somewhere and that was a problem.

Never before seen pictures of my shorts!!!

(Glen Filthie, eat your heart out)

This is where the wire is passed through a woven-wire feedlot panel. The lines holding the plastic collar shifted allowing the hot wire to contact the feedlot panel.

Another line was added to pull the collar down.

Something (99% chance it was a deer) bumped the hot wire and flipped it to the back-side of the fence post.

Temporary fix was to take a dead stick and lift over the top of the post so it was in front of it. This is not a durable fix. I need to get another insulator on the post to truly secure the hot wire.

There was one other short where deer had dragged the woven wire fence into the hot wire. I secured the woven wire fence with an additional fence post. This is not the first time I had that issue at that same location. Like a lazy dummy, I didn't implement a permanent "fix". But I got it this time.

One other issue I found was that I have been using blade-and-clevis switches to drop out un-used runs of fence. One of the blades had dropped back into the clevis. I don't know if a bird landed on the handle or wind or branches did-the-deed.


I don't know what other folks do, but I separate shorts into "hard" shorts where the hot wire contacts grounded metal and "soft" shorts where vegetation contacts the hot wire.

A high-impedance fence energizer can over-come a significant amount of "soft" shorts but is helpless against "hard" shorts.

While I was working on the fence I also addressed many of the soft shorts. I sprayed beneath the paddock division fences with glyphosate. After it dried, I pulled the wire out of the grass that had dunlopped over it. Then I stomped down the grass to ensure it was not touching the lowest wire.

The good news for me is that I have an audible signal when I have a hard short. The feed from the energizer to the fence passes by a 10' tall, 4" square steel tube salvaged from a portable basketball basket-and-backboard. It pings when I have a hard short.

It is slow but I listen for the ping. I walk the fence. I find an issue. If I can fix it with the fence "hot", I fix it. If not, I turn off the fence, walk back, address the issue, walk to the energizer and turn it back on. Then I walk back to my basketball backboard post and listen for pinging. If it is still pinging, I go looking for the next short.

I am down to a soft pong which suggests I still have issue with soft shorts but the fence should have enough juice to deter them from pushing into the potato patch.

Bonus pictures

This wildflower/weed was attractive to pollinators.

Interesting leaf arrangement. Any readers want to ID it? Added later...Looks like Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

This was a surprise. I had cut and pulled grape vines off of some apple trees along my west fence row. I was surprised by the effect the vines had on the lower branches of the trees. They were dead. I was also surprised by the vast amount of sun entering the wildlife travel corridor with the grapevines removed.

2040 Growing Degree Days, b50. Trailman applecrab almost done dropping. South Dakota plum coloring up but still astringent.


  1. Regarding the hard short where the wire goes through the hog panel I would use a piece of black, flexible plastic pipe split to go over the hot wire and tape in place. Solved the problem. ---ken

  2. Exactly how does that 10' 4"x4" "short detecting antenna" work? By induction? Is the energizer attached to it?

    Way back when, we did much the same thing coyoteken recommends - we used uv-resistant fuel line, about 1/4" ID IIRC. FYI, a Romex cable ripper is THE tool for cutting soft plastic or rubber tubing lengthwise. If the tubing is thick wall it won't go all the way through, but usually deep enough to either fingernail-split the rest of the way or at least guide a knife blade (clamping a utility knife blade in a vise and pulling the tubing over it is easiest; angle it back a little and extra points for dulling the top 1/8" of the blade with a grinder so it doesn't cut through BOTH sides of the tubing...).


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