Walking the Fenceline

Sometimes it's hard to make decisions on a homestead or farm. You can't know what the winter will be like, even though meteorologists try to predict. Our forecast is for a cold and snowy winter, like last year, but will it happen that way? Will we get rain this autumn? An early frost or a long, cool fall?

Our neighbor called a few weeks ago, asking if we wanted the hayfield cut and baled. Hay cutting was very late this year, some farmers are still cutting hay this week. We agreed that if it didn't rain after he cut it, there wouldn't be enough regrowth to support my horses over the winter.

On the other hand, the horses and the goats need hay too. He bales our field on shares, which would give me a few more round bales of hay. Plus we are constantly fighting the wild blackberries that spring up and small thorny trees that grow each year. When he cuts the field, those are cut down and controlled for another season. (We used to cut and bale our field by hand, but that was years ago. Although we still have our hand baler and could use it if needed, for now we are thankful to have our neighbor cut it for us with his tractor and equipment!)

I decided not to have it cut and baled. It hasn't rained much since he called me. I have square bales stored in a shed, and round bales too. There is an abundance of grass in the field. I think I made the right decision.

Over the weekend I walked the hayfield fenceline with my English Shepherd, Pete. The last time I was out there, the weeds outnumbered the grass, but now the grass is thick and plentiful. There is a large patch of ragweed that is more than knee-high, but otherwise it looks pretty good. There is some Johnson grass, but mostly it's native grass pasture.

I didn't find any fencing that needed to be repaired. Last year I had to repair a few spots.

The gate that my other neighbor uses to retrieve his cows from my field was closed. He often leaves it open, so that was another thing I'd wanted to check on. 

His cows haven't visited in several weeks, ever since he told me he'd fixed a long stretch of fence so that he could winter them "down in that holler". So far they seem to be staying there.

We found no sign of feral hogs, thankfully. They are becoming a real nuisance around here, and many of my neighbors are having problems with them.

Then I gathered up all the osage oranges on the ground behind the barn and tossed them into a small fenced area that the horses can't access. Some folks say that too many of them will cause colic; others say they aren't a problem. I prefer to err on the side of caution.

Since everything looked good, I opened the gate for the horses, and they obligingly ventured out into the field. They've done well over the summer on pasture alone, but now they'll get grain in the evening to coax them back to the barn so that I can close the gate for the night.

I have happy horses.

Related posts:
How we reclaimed our hayfield