Laurel Jones

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since Jul 22, 2014
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Recent posts by Laurel Jones

Rachel McCarty wrote:Hi laurel,
Thanks for your thoughts and trouble shooting.
My fence tester only reads up to 8k and I only ever see it at about 4k, sometimes 6k. But that seems to be hot enough, when the goats respect it.
I am moving their fence about every week and a half, when they've eaten things down. I'm trying to keep it in mostly grassy areas because they will kill any small trees around. These aren't planted trees, but still I don't think they should be killed. We have a lot of wild persimmon here and in the spring the bark was soft so they stripped them bare. Same with the junipers , which are not such a concern here.

My main issue is the fence charger from Premier 1. It's the Intellishock 60. It's never been very reliable, even though it's less than a year old. It won't hold a charge more than a few days if I leave it on at night, so I've been turning it off at night and hence a big problem when the goats figured this out. Probably I should invest in a second charger, but I'm not really feeling this system of goat fencing is a very good one no matter how much money is thrown at it.
Plus, I had that same charger on my chicken fence the other day and the tester read 6k on the fence but there was zero shock when I touched it. The company said it's because the ground is dry. So here's another potential pitfall of the moveable fence system.

In the old days my goats would stay in the fence no matter what, but they've since decided it's worth checking the shock to see if they can get out.

If I had more resources to invest in creating strong fencing here I would do it. Moveable paddocks sounds like a smart system. I'm trying to make what I have work without a lot of extra cost and having trouble finding the solutions that would allow me to keep the goats. Sure wish I could see it.

Frustrating.  May I ask what part of the world you're in?  for us, we have clay soil and often get rain weekly so don't have much of an issue with the ground drying out. We too have the intellishock 60, but haven't been using it for very long.  I'm not sure what your situation is, or what specific net you're using, but a number of the premier 1 nets allow for alternating postive/ground wires to be run versus requiring an active ground through the soil, but I believe those would require a different energizer.  May eliminate your issues with not enough ground contact.

I suppose another solution which certainly isn't free but as far as affordable options goes, pretty straightforward.  That would be to run a long rectangular field (t posts plus high tensile woven wire or whatever type of field fencing you would use) with side boundaries maybe a few feet closer together than your present net length.  Run a plug in fence charger with those big long ground rods hammered into the ground, and a line running along the top of the fence, and maybe a foot up off the ground on the inside.  Then all you have to do is cross fence with 2 electric nets and work the goats down the field.  You could easily do this leapfrogging with 3 nets in total.  Then all you need to do is use jumpers to transfer power from that high hot wire to your nets.

In my experience, in general, versions of the cheap/fast/good triangle apply in most situations(you get 2). In the fencing situation, you're probably looking at cheap/effective/easy.  You can make an effective and easy fence, but it won't be cheap.  You can make a cheap and easy fence, but it won't be effective, you can make a cheap and effective fence, but it won't be easy.
1 year ago
How is everyone handling these?  Are you just using a single electric net fence?  Is that enough to keep a ram and wether contained while ewes a few hundred feet away are cycling?   My only other idea is to make a rectangle out of cattle panels, but with our bumpy ground, I suspect it would be a total pain to get it set up without huge gaps under portions of the panels.  
1 year ago
Do you know what specifically your problem is?  How hot is your charger?  

We have hilly bumpy ground and found that we needed to weedwack the fenceline before placing the fence, and if it stays in one place for much more than one week (during growing season), the grass grows up enough to contact the fence, and enough grass will drop our shock level significantly.  For example, with a freshly set up fence with weedwacked lines so nothing is contacting it, we can hit just over 11k volts with a Premier 1 solar charger, but after 2 weeks of growth, even after walking the fenceline and pulling errant blades of grass in areas we get loud snapping noises, our fence charge was down in the low 8k volt range.  Now, if you're rotating them as a parasite management strategy, realistically they shouldn't be on that same area for more than a week anyhow, so it shouldn't be too much of an issue.    So, some troubleshooting with the electric fence situation may be worth looking at.

If they're killing trees, how long are you keeping them in the same area?  If they're small trees,  yeah, you need to keep the goats away from the trees til they get large enough that the goats can't reach all of their branches, and potentially also protect the trunk with a tree trunk protector.  I have planted my pasture trees in tree tubes, but I've seen spiral things that can be placed on larger trees, or you could make a circle out of cattle panel around the tree to keep it from being eaten if you can't fence the goats away from it.

I think both of those issues suggest that you may be leaving the goats in an electric net for too long.  The fence thing because you're probably getting so much grounding from growth that it's not staying hot enough (and this will wear down your battery charge, making the chance of a shock lower as well I guess), and they're potentially eating everything that's desireable in an area before moving onto a tree (they also may just like eating these trees, in which case, fence them out?), so keep moving them to areas where they can eat things they prefer to trees.

Bear in mind that I say this as a new small ruminant keeper, but obsessive researcher and I've done as much research/classes as possible about both managing small ruminants and fencing.  

1 year ago

Cletus Hatfield wrote:I don't know what your comment was or the context but the notion that herbicides warrant scientific research is absolutely spurious insofar as the theory of evolution is accepted.  Therefore, canceling discussions of herbicides except to totally disparage them seems like the right thing to do to avoid distractions.  A better way forward is to instead focus on genuinely productive things.  That's what Aristotle would do.  

FWIW, I brought up an experience that I had seeing the results of a study performed by Purdue regarding the management/removal of invasives in forestry, and the methodology, primarily the use of goats.
It's a bummer, but super common and extremely easy to miss.  Fawns rarely get up even if jostled, especially extremely young ones.  They blend in, it's easy to nail them.  Outside of just not mowing, there's really nothing your son could have done, so please do your best to let him know that he did nothing wrong.  Living with taking a life can be hard, especially if it wasn't planned and regardless of how he may be reacting outwardly, he still may be struggling inside with it.
1 year ago
I get it that these are Paul's forums, and what he wants goes, I totally understand.  While I appreciate the post probation feature versus just all-out removal, I think acknowledging the use of herbicides in regards to how a scientific study was conducted (their use is absolutely part of the process involved in the comment that I made, and I believe it would be disingenuous and contrary to the scientific process to suggest that the results obtained did not involve them) is reasonable.  I was very specific about not advocating their use, and I think having a healthy discussion about the existence of products in such wide use that the permies zeitgeist is so contrary to is unlikely to ever result in the advocacy of them.

Stacy Witscher wrote:I think that depends on where you live and the fertility. Without inputs, our nature growth of annuals is about 4 inches. This year due to a wet, cold spring, it has increased to 6 inches in areas without added fertility. I plan on getting goats to eat the perennial bushes and small trees, not annual grasses and forbs,

I'm a bit jealous.  Our pastures sprung from a tidy bush hogged last autumn height of ~10" to roughly 3 feet tall with no signs of stopping this spring!
1 year ago

Joshua Frank wrote:@Laurel: Can you just leave them in the forest at night, or do you have to bring them back to a secure barn at the end of every day? I would love to do this, but I can't see how to keep them from predation without a ton of work of this kind.

Funny you mention that, the week following the invasives class, i took a class on small ruminant management.  SIPAC has a large herd of hair sheep, and a large herd of goats.  They move them around the farm (which btw has no perimeter fence, but is quite big) using electric netting powered by solar chargers.  They have coyotes on the farm, but have never once had a predation issue with the sheep or goats that are protected in electric netting fences.  They do not keep LGDs in with their small ruminant flocks/herds.  I'd imagine if you wanted to have your ruminants on the existing fence line, this may present more of an issue as you can't just electrify a small portion of an existing fence, you also have the added wrinkle of needing to clear a line in the brush to run your fence through, but as long as you could totally encircle the animals in electric netting that's kept spicy, you should be fine.  We specifically went with 48" high netting to reduce the chances that coyotes could jump the fence.

FWIW, we are bringing a handful of hair sheep onto our farm(which we presently live 35 minutes from, but will hopefully be moved onto by next spring), which has coyotes on it and intend to run them in the premier one nets that I got.  We will not initially have a guard animal, but I'm hoping to pick up a donkey to keep with them sooner rather than later, as I'm the type that prefers an abundance of caution.  
1 year ago

elle sagenev wrote:

Kenneth Elwell wrote:I look at your photos, and I'm thinking "I AM NOT A ROBOT, click all the photos that contain a litterbox." and I'm clicking pretty much all of them. LOL.

I'm guessing you mean the new soil/compost/rock edged beds, not the shredded paper/mulch/flower beds, right? And that it's a "problem" since these beds are for food?
A temporary cover of bird netting, or wire fence, just an inch or two up, would make it weird to walk on or not quite possible to "do their business as usual". We had a farm cat that liked the freshly prepared beds too, but we're a flower farm, so there.

Nothing wrong with those flower beds, by the way, you've got room for growth or more new plants...

I have the same wood shavings around every fruit tree and they are just litter boxes. It's not a big problem though because I'm not digging in them. So yeah, it's the food beds that are a problem for me. Darn cats. I suppose I could chicken wire over the top.

do you have some old hay you could spread around as mulch?