Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pasture Outline

To answer Linda's questions yesterday, I walked the pasture and wrote down all the measurements in paces. Converted to feet the pasture is a little over 12 acres. I've always guessed it at closer to 25 acres, so that was a bit shocking.

I drew a new map closer to scale. It's a little off because the graph paper only gives you so much area to work with. The pasture is nearly 750 feet square- a little shorter on the east (road) side, a little longer on the west side.

Black is the existing fence. Blue is what I would like to finish this year. Orange is what I would like to finish next year. The little notches are gates.

Most of the sections are a little shy of an acre, at 36000 square feet.  Some are a little bigger, up to 50400 square feet.

The outside fence is 4' high woven wire, with 12"x6" holes. About half of it is on wooden fence posts, the road side and around the barn, and the other half is on metal t-posts. It's about ten years old. There's at least one strand of barbed wire at the top all the way around and two or three strands in problem areas. There are cross poles in problem areas as well.

The problems with this fence vary from post to post. In one spot there's almost 20 feet between posts, because I live on the Canadian shield. There's a rock between the posts, just below the surface, that's over 10 feet long. There are lots of big rocks in lots of places, which makes spacing fence posts rather irregular.

Where there aren't big rocks, the east (road) side of the pasture is on sandy soil, while the middle is on clay, and the back is sand again. 

We also get a lot of snow. Some years you can barely see the fence posts over the top of the snow. That's not really a problem, since the animals don't want to wade through it anyway, except around the barn where they pack it down all winter long. All of our replacement posts around the barn are at least eight feet high, with extra barbed wire strung as needed.

Being under snow so much of the year weakens the wire and causes it to rust. It makes the fence posts rot much faster too.

Section 2 and 3 inside fences are both three strands of barbed wire. Section 2 also has the beginnings of cross poles between posts. We're working on adding additional posts and poles now.

As we move on to new sections they'll be wood posts and cross poles, with a strand of barbed wire on top.

The over all plan will allow one acre per cow/horse (not counting Mildred, who will only over winter with the herd).  I have no idea if that is above or below the recommended number of animal units/acre for our area.  Quite frankly, most people around here just feed hay year round.  I don't plan to try squeezing in any additional cattle- with a minimum of 6 months of winter- that's a lot of hay to buy, regardless of how much grass I have to rotate them through in the summer.  I would just like to not have to start feeding hay in August.

View from the south west corner of the pasture towards the barn.  It's a long walk.


  1. Thanks. You really have no need to exercise at your place! That was a decent walk. How many cows per acre depends on many things. But, you really have enough pasture for your herd. If wood rots, why are you replacing with wood posts?

    I remember when one or more of the cows used the high snow to cross the fence and got stuck straddling the fence. That incident made carrying my chickens through the snow seem like nothing. Do your chickens avoid stepping onto snow like mine do?

    Is barbed wire galvanized?

    1. Wood rots and metal rusts. Wood is free, metal is about $5/post.

      That was Mindy breaking into Mildred's pen. The snow was packed down on the pasture side, but loose and fluffy on Mildred's side- Mildred had just arrived.

      When I let the geese out in the winter the chickens stand in the doorway eyeing the evil snow outside. It's rare that one gets brave enough to venture out.

      The barbed wire I'm using now is galvanized. Some of the stuff that's already up probably wasn't.