Pete's random thoughts

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fence problems

This morning I woke up before everyone else, as is typical. We have moved into our new bedroom now even though it isn't quite 100% done yet. (Still need to paint the doors and hang curtains, Earl and Kathy have my grandparent's bedroom set almost completely refinished-that is a topic for another post though)

Anyway, in the bedroom are two sets of sliding glass doors. One leads to a balcony kind of thing, the other to a little deck (that we plan on replacing with a more substantial thing later). I looked out through the glas to see that we had really gotten dumped on with snow overnight and was admiring how it looked with the morning fog and the hemlock trees weighted down with snow, when my eyes wandered to the animal pen. The goats were out wandering around, sniffing in the snow and doing goat stuff. The pigs were sleeping in the chicken house. (the chickens don't seem to mind as long as the pigs bring body heat with them) But...where was Rocky, the steer?

He thinks he's a goat, so he's usually wherever they are. If he spends the night in the chicken house, I'd normally be able to see his big black and white rear quarter hanging out of the doorway. Nope, no Rocky there either. I was considering changing my vantage point to try and see the other corner of the pen, when I saw a big black nose bobbing up and down on the other side of the cow shed, down near the ground. Yup, Rocky is laying down against the shed on the outside of the fence, chewing his cud.

He got out overnight and couldn't figure out how to get back in, so he just laid himself down against the next best thing: the outside of his shed.

This is the 4th time in two weeks that he has gotten out. The first two times, he managed to break the fence where the steel sections are joined together with screw clamps. The third time (yesterday) we assume he just stepped over the fence where it is bent down a bit from leaning over it to get hay. All of the goats were out with him last night. We figured out that there had been an escape when he came up to my office window and mooed at me, then came around to the door, apparantly wanting to come in. After I chopped away the ice and managed to get the pen door open, I led him back in (with the added motivation of some grain) then passed the goats one by one back over the fence.

I then wired a pallet in place to close up the low spot in the fence. Yeah, that worked for a few minutes anyway. At least until I got back into the house. It was only a matter of time before he just stepped over the fence somewhere else and was back out in the woods exploring, only this time he had wised up and didn't come to the window to tell me about it. Of course, in his little boving brain, he didn't think this through all of the way and couldn't figure out how to get back in, so he slept outside.

The problem with the fence is that he has grown, and the fence has "shrunk" due to snow and ice piling up around it. The fence panels are actually 52" high, but if the "solid ground" has risen around it (at least on the inside where the critters have packed it down solid) it has the effect of making the top of the fence lower in relation to the surface. Thus it is no huge stretch of the imagination that a 1200lb steer whose belly hangs only about 6"-8" below the top of the fence is going to try and scrape his way over it. Especially when he discovers that there are evergreens right over there!

What we will probably do tomorrow or the next day is wire up some pallets to the steel fence in suce a way as to raise the percieved height of the fence and maybe run a single electric fence wire along the top to discourage his trying to "lean" over it to get stuff.