Thursday, October 5, 2017

Catalog Ready Fence

Even though someone works for a fence supply company (for instance, Premier!), this does not mean that their fences at home are perfect. My fences are one example. Their ages range from 30 to 5 years. Most are a mix of woven, barbed, and electric. They work! After all, it's been a few months since the cattle have escaped, I think I've got all the kinks worked out.

Well I thought so, until I volunteered my pasture/hayfield as a photo opportunity. This meant I needed to get my fences up to snuff.

In this set up, I have a feeder wire carrying the pulse down the fence line to power my temporary subdivision fence. It involves a few components from before my Premier days, they would be the porcelain insulator and the rusty old-style electric fence wire. 

My Premier components are a wood post activator, Tuff-Ring insulator, FiberRod with ScrewOn insulators, harp clips, and IntelliRope 4.5. They're all set-up poorly (by Premier standards), but the voltage on the fence measure 5kv (kilo-volts or 5,000 volts) all summer and the cattle stayed in (they only got out where I didn't have electric fence). 

So what's wrong?
  1. I should be using two conductors, not one continuous length. The vertical section of my conductor puts unnecessary stress on the fine metal filaments. This shortens the usable life of that conductor. 
  2. My wood post activator is meant as an attachment point for gate handles. The TuffRing is not meant to hold conductors that way (90° angle), it works, but once again, it's the wrong way to do things. 
  3. Porcelain insulator, there are a lot of these in use around farms. I've decided I don't care for them, my conductors always fall off until I get the right amount of tension on them. I don't enjoy wrestling a tensioned insulator back into place. 
  4. Rusty fence wire. Rust is corrosion. Corrosion = resistance. Resistance is an obstruction to electrical flow. 
In short, I'm using the wrong insulators in correctly, my conductor is being worn out too quickly and I'm not getting as much energy onto my fenceline as I should. 

What needs to be done to get the fence photo ready?
  1. Replace rusty wire with a proper feeder wire
  2. Run two conductors instead on one-continuous conductor. 
  3. Terminate those conductors with an insulated conductor hook. That will connect to the barbed wire, which is not, nor will be, energized.
  4. Connect feeder wire to conductors via PowerLink. This will provide better metal-to-metal contact on the fence. 

A much better setup. 
  1. Conductivity is improved. Galvanized and stainless steel connections carry the pulse much better than rusty wire. ,
  2. Connecting feeder wire to top conductor at the RopeLink, this offers the best metal to metal contact for transferring the pulse. 
  3. Two conductors terminated with conductor hooks. This reduces stress on my conductor, as well as letting me easily open up the fence to transfer cattle to the next pasture or to drive haying equipment through. 
  4. Switched out my porcelain insulator for a notched PI21 terminal insulator. I kept my old rusty wire to hold it in place, it works just fine for that use. I went with the notched insulator for its ease of sliding the conductor into place. 
Why didn't I set my fence up this way to start? 
Like most farms, you make what you have on hand work. What I had on hand worked, it wasn't perfect but it got the job done. 

The end result? Other than a more eye-appealing fence (my cell-phone pics don't do it justice), my voltage went up! How much? At least 3,000 volts. The tester in the photo measures up to 8kv. My digital voltmeter (which measured the earlier mentioned 5,000 volts) goes up to 9.9kv. I'll get that one out later to see if the voltage went up further than 3kv. 

I made sure to test at the end of my fenceline—the end of the fence gives you the voltage after going through any weed-contact or poor conductors. 

The fence is now ready for photos. I'll go give the cattle a pep-talk for tomorrow. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Goats! Goats! Goats!

If you've been following our Facebook and Instagram pages, you may have noticed that more an more goat photos are being snuck in. What's the reason? Well, we've expanded our goat herd by a little over 40 does. So there's more opportunities for our photographers to snap candids throughout the day.

Expanding the goat numbers has been on the to-do list for some time, but other things on the farm jump ahead from time to time. That is, until recent trip to market our fat wethers. They did quite well. Enough to put goat acquisition to the top of the farm's to do list.

The does complement our ewe-flock too. The farms have a few patches bramble, which makes for poor grazing but great browsing. We could clear it with a few days of chainsaw and clipper work. But that would result in too many doses of poison ivy for our tastes. Simply putting up electric netting and allowing the goats to work was far preferable. Their nimble lips know exactly which leaf to pick and which thorn to avoid. We'll add those photos just as soon as our photo team gets up the gumption to wade through thorns and other pesky plants.

Last that we heard, the buck has been running with the does—kidding photos will be around in about 145 days!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Miss out on attending Premier’s 2017 Sheep Field Day? Not a problem. You can now view photos and watch the presentations online.
Topics presented included:
  • Lamb quality: What is (and is not) an ideal market lamb, and why.
  • What do lamb buyers (including restaurants, stores and consumers) like and dislike about US and imported lamb as revealed by the American Lamb Board’s extensive nationwide audit.
  • How to succeed (and fail) at growing annual forage crops (rye, turnips, radish) for sheep.
  • Pros and cons of accelerated lambing (lambing more than once per year) illustrated in a 45 minute video of 4 sheep operations in KS, IA, NY and MI.
  • Impact of micro minerals on feeding sheep.
  • Hands-on teaching of critical winter shepherding/lambing skills courtesy of Premier’s 1000 ewes.
  • Lessons learned about Premier’s unique (no drop pen) indoor lambing system.
  • Lessons learned about LAC-TEK’s automatic lamb-rearing machines.
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