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Deer in the Headlights….or in the Fence

Anyone who uses electric fence knows that the most critical detail regarding fence management is to always keep the fence hot. However, users of electric fence will tell you that keeping an their fence hot all the time is often considerably more challenging than it would first appear to be. We try to keep 5000 volts on everything at an absolute minimum, and I try pretty hard for twice that much though I don’t always succeed.

Some of the problems and challenges you run into while trying to keep electric fence hot sure are interesting. After a lifetime of installing and dealing with multiple miles of fence plus various types of solar and electric chargers I’ve gotten pretty good at diagnosing problems just by reading and interpreting what the volt meter is telling me. For instance, a reading of zero volts means the fence is completely grounded out; most often a complete ground is only achieved when a piece of metal manages to touch the electric fence and the ground at the same time. More often, one gets a reading that is very low everywhere, or that’s very low and fluctuates. Most of the time that means a good sized piece of wood is lying across one or more sections of fence and either the contact with the wood is causing a partial ground or sometimes the fence is actually lying directly on the ground. But as today’s story will show, that is not always the case.

Of course I think it is important to be pretty thorough about testing our fences, and as such we check every bit of fence along the road one or more times a day. We’re a little less thorough with internal fences and boundary fences that don’t abut a road but we still check all of it several times a week. I last checked the rear-most section of fence that borders our hay fields a couple of days ago so it was time to recheck them today. That’s easy to do because we have a strand of electric wire that runs all the way around the back of the farm on top of a four board wood fence. So the first thing I did was hook up the voltmeter to check the charge. I found the charge to be low and fluctuating (800-1300 V), which as I mentioned earlier usually means a branch lying across one or more sections of fence. Only one thing to do and that’s walk around and check it out.

Much to my surprise the short wasn’t caused from a piece of wood, but instead from a very dead deer ! I’ve seen a lot of things in my time but I never have seen a deer caught up in a single strand of electric fence atop a four board wood fence. How in the world it managed to get caught up the way it did I will never know, but it somehow managed to snare it’s right rear hoof in such a way that it couldn’t free itself and there it lay until I found it. It did such a good job of entangling itself in my fence that I couldn’t free it’s leg with the tools I had on hand either, so I guess tomorrow’s job will be to take the tractor and some additional tools to the back and see if I can fix my fence and extract the deer from it at the same time. Strangest thing I’ve seen in quite a while. (Melissa here – I have opted not to see the deer in person although I fear I may to have to help extract it from the fence. Not sure if I’m up for that. Not sure at all.)

Happy grazers Johnny, Rampal, Tiny, Rocky, Largo and Kennedy



Calimba and Maisie

George and Fonzi

Johnny and Kennedy hanging out, Toledo napping hard and Tiny grazing




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