Escaped Calves and Fencing Woes

By on Jan 12, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

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The scrap bucket was empty and the feed bunker a mess. Who had done this? Who would trash the hay and steal the pig food? This was clearly the work of the delinquents; Rowdy and Hemingway.

With snow on the ground, it is very hard to keep a strong charge in the 10+ miles of electric fence that separate the pastures on our farm. At Miles Smith Farm we try to keep a good charge in the pig fencing and make sure the bull’s fence is charged but it is almost impossible to keep all the other fences fully charged. For the most part, the cattle respect the fence wires, even if there is little to no charge in them. The babies, not so much.

Rowdy, a 7 month old Scottish Highlander Calf

Rowdy, the escape artist, regularly trashes the holding pen. Photo by Carole Soule, Miles Smith Farm

Rowdy is a seven-month-old calf and Hemingway is two months old. Both are Scottish Highlanders and are buddies. They hang out together, play together and escape together. The weakest charge in the fence is in the gates. Each calf ducks under the wire gate into the barnyard where they wander around looking for food and trouble. They eat the hay in the feed bunker and if we happen to leave out the pig food, help themselves to that as well.

When they are done trashing the place they wander back under the gate to their mothers. Thankfully, it is only these two delinquents who have figured out how to escape. The other calves are much more obedient and stay with their mothers, for now. It won’t be long before we wean Rowdy by putting him in a secure pen with the other weanlings. Hemingway is too young to be weaned but maybe when his partner in crime is locked up, he’ll stay with his mother.

Hemingway and his Mom, Missy

Hemingway a Scottish Highlander calf, who escapes regularly, is back in the pasture with his Mom, Missy. Photo by Carole Soule, Miles Smith Farm

We are doing our best to make sure the fence and gates have a charge to help foil these escape artists but it is a constant challenge and somewhat of an art keeping fences charged in the winter. No one wants to battle with snow covered fences, freezing fingers and icy footing that will put an inattentive farmer on her butt in seconds, to fix fences.

The recent January “heat wave” (40 degrees, yahoo!) has melted the snow so we might get to fence fixing before the arctic blasts resume and winter returns. If not, we’ll just have to continue to clean up after the escape artists until the fences are fixed or Rowdy is weaned. How surprised those boys will be once we get the gates charged again!