We found out the hard way that maintaining a fence is better done proactively, rather than being a reactive measure.
My wife works from home, and we have a den that she works out of in the evenings. It looks out over the back yard. Suddenly she calls out to me “Jared… A goat is out!”
Okay, no biggie, it happens. Hasn’t happened for a little while, but it happens. So, dutifully, I went out to collect the goat.
Catching a goat is actually a pretty easy thing to do. Especially if they have ever had store bought feed, or anything out of a bucket.
Getting the goat back into the fence was as easy as grabbing a bucket, putting a little feed in it and shaking in around. She came running and happily followed me back into the fenced area.
We use an electric fence. To make it as simple as possible, imagine a battery with its two points: a negative and a positive side. Alone, they are harmless. Connect them, and you can power a device – or – shock something.
The fence is like that. In the basic setup, all of the “fence” wires are the positive side of a battery. The negative side is connected into the ground.
If you were a dragonfly and you landed on the fence, you would be just fine. You can walk around in your yard without any problems as well. But touch the fence while you are on the ground and – well – it will wake you up a bit.
The current travels from the power source – a solar charged battery in our case – through the fence, through you, into the ground, and back to the battery, completing the circuit.
Maintaining a Fence:
In this case, the problem was a tree that had fallen on to the wire and which was completing the circuit. When that happens the electricity follows the fence to the tree, then through the tree into the ground.
Any fencing past the tree would not be charged, or would have a much lower charge going through it. The fencing between the battery and the tree would still be electrified.
You see, most of our fencing is inside the woods. I am unsure of when the tree fell across the wire, but I can tell you that a goat discovered that it did not hurt to touch it and was happy to push through it.
Maintaining the fence can be a simple process. We have a voltage tester that can be used on the electric fence. We can walk out there each day and test the fence in less than a minute.
Then, if the fence does not test at the correct voltage (in this case, 7,500 volts), then we can walk the fence line and find the problem.
The tester really is a great tool to have. It saves you from having to walk a lot of fence line until you KNOW there is a problem.
Fixing the problem was really easy this time. I just cut the tree with a bow saw and let it fall to the ground away from the fence.
The wires sprung right back in to place, needing no adjustment at all.
Do it Right the First Time:
So, from now on we will have to be a bit more proactive. We will test the fence more often in hopes of finding the problem before the goats do.
The electric fence voltage tester only costs about $16 USD – well worth the trouble if you have a lot of fence to check!