“Look honey, more deer at the far game feeder.“
Wait a minute, deer aren’t black!
“Hey y’all, look what I just did over here.”
“Well, as long as we’re already here…”
Well, just when I thought that I had pretty much solved the problem of critters molesting the game feeders by the judicious use of appropriate varmint guards, I find I may have to figure out a way to make them cattle-proof, as well.
You see, we share 1.75 miles of barbed wire fence with one of our neighbors (who has holdings of about 500 acres), as shown on this map, in the form of a bold black line.
There is a .25 mile long section of this fence that I rigorously maintain to pen our horses. Unfortunately, the remaining 1.5 miles of existing fencing between us is old and in pretty sorry shape. This neighbor has recently rented out pasture to a local rancher, and over the past several days his cattle have been testing and challenging the old barbed wire fence. Each day, try as it might, the fence ends up losing the battle, as two dozen bovines make their way into our early spring hayfields, eagerly dining on the succulent fresh fescue and red clover.
Each afternoon, a telephone call brings the rancher over to our place, to round up his errant cattle. Yesterday the cattle discovered that not only do we have the best grass in the area, but there’s corn for dessert as well! So, even though the neighboring rancher is apologetic and is working daily on mending the fence, I’m guessing we’ll be seeing the cattle here again soon. But I really hope I’m wrong. Besides the damaged feeder, there are other concerns that the encroaching cattle bring about. Whereas I have been working to maintain healthy banks along our creeks, the cattle trample the banks, causing erosion of the soils and decimation of the filtering vegetation along the creek sides.
If this were twenty or thirty years ago, my neighbor would have come over to round up the cattle mounted atop his trusty steed. Alas, cowboys don’t ride horses anymore, but are experts at herding cattle as they sit astride ninety horsepower ATVs equipped with aggressive off-road tires. As you can see below, vehicle traffic and emerging hay fields don’t mix well.
Hopefully, the repairs that our neighbor made to the fence will hold the cattle. I plan to walk this portion of the fence line tomorrow to make a current assessment of the situation. I’d rather not have to share in the expense of having a new, sturdy fence built along this great a distance, but I am not prepared to try and keep an old brittle fence cattle-tight as a do-it-yourself project. As they say, “I’ve been there and done that, and I ain’t doin’ it again.”