Archive | October, 2014

It’s All In The Nose

29 Oct



Harry was here.

That is a very heavy gate that has been freed from its hinges.
There just happened to be an attractive lady on the other side giving Harry the come hither stare.

There’s an awesome amount of power behind a pigs nose.

The Little Things

26 Oct


If you’re going to be going through a particular gate or door on a daily basis, it’s worth the investment to make that process as easy as possible.  Just imagine that the front door of your house took 15 seconds to open and close.  You use your front door at least a dozen times per day, that’s

We’ve put in new gates that are just 16′ cattle panels held up with wire and T-posts, but they’re only for gates that are very infrequently used.

This gate at the top of the hill is on the opposite end of the spectrum, it gets used almost every day, often multiple times per day.


I’ve had this Co-line sure-latch sitting around for the past two years, waiting to figure out which gate would benefit the most from it’s latchyness.

The welding was a bit of a challenge. We’ve gotten quite good at welding bolts onto our steel pipe posts, but welding four of them on in a very precise alignment was new. After a few tack-welds and checking the alignment a bajillion times it was all ready to go.


I cannot express in words the joys of a properly working gate.


9 Oct


It’s been almost four months now that we’ve been without our primary livestock waterer.  It was taken out when we had all the well-work done, and it stayed out due to the resulting lack of a concrete pad to re-attach it to.

With the threat of winter looming, it was time to get crackin’ on a new concrete pad.


Look! Forms and a concrete-calulator app for your smartphone!


And then there’s this mess off to the side of my house…


The big day came and went without any big issues.

A good thing when you’re dealing with 3.5 cubic yards of liquid rock.


We even had just the right amount left over to make a little step up to the front door of the chicken coop, much to the delight of the resident toddler population.


Not too bad. And I didn’t even have to trowel-out too many little piggy footprints.

Cowdog in Training

8 Oct


We’ve got an awfully good-looking new addition to the farm.
Meet Bullitt, the Australian Cattle Dog.


He’s only 12 weeks old at this point, so he’s not working cattle just yet. Instead he’s spending most of his days chewing on stuff he shouldn’t be, making messes and all those other shenanigans that puppies like to get into.

I can’t wait until next summer when he’s old enough to work cattle and hogs. A stock dog can easily do the work of several people when it comes to moving livestock around. Having a well-trained stock dog ought to be a whole ‘nother thing.

I’ve started his basic obedience training already, and he’s a quick study. By next summer I hope to have him trained on all the basics, plus several herding-specific commands. I’d love to have a dog that understood (and obeyed) “lie down” “away-to-me” and “come-by”.

Now I just have to get a clicker and a jumbo-size bag of dog treats…

Unofficial Hydrant Connector

6 Oct


As promised in the earlier post about our new watering system, we’ve changed our hydrant connector for our watering system.

The NRCS guys came out and approved the whole system a while back, so we promptly got to making a couple of much-needed changes to account for “real world” use.


Foremost among the changes is the hydrant connection.  We got one of the Agri-fit M15 fittings to tap into with a small piece of heavy-duty reinforced 3/4 hose.

Much flexy.

More better.

It’s Electrifying

5 Oct


So a few weeks back we had an intense little storm front move through overnight.  It didn’t really do much damage, but there was plenty of thunder and lightning.

And then the next morning I noticed that one of our sows was in with the boar (she wasn’t supposed to be).  They were separated by a 3-wire electric fence, which was a pretty good indication that there was a problem with said fence.

Sure enough, the electric fence energizer had quit working.  Not good.

The electric fencer was in the exact same spot it had been when we bought the farm nearly two years ago.  Even though we made a few improvements to the wiring, it was still far from ideal.  Our intention was to move the fencer up to the chicken coop after we got electric service restored to the coop last fall.  The coop got electricity, but the fencer never got moved.  Even worse, during all the work on the well the lightning protection was removed from the fencer and never restored.

Fortunately for us, the fix was as easy as changing a blown fuse in the energizer.  Last year it was a $80 repair bill and a week without a fencer.


It was time to get the fencer moved to it’s permanent home. Moving the fence energizer up to the coop was the easy part.  Just hang it on the wall and plug it in, this time with a surge protector!


But enough with the easy stuff, we’ve got a grounding system to install!  In our case we went right outside to the North side of the chicken coop and drove five 6′ ground rods into the soil in the drip-line of the coop.   The rule-of-thumb for electric fencing is that you need 3′ of ground rod for every joule of fencer output.  We’ve got a 9 joule fencer so we need at least 27′ of ground rod, or 4.5 six-foot ground rods.

Now for the hot side of the fence.


We’ve got a cutoff switch on the front corner of the chicken coop to make fence-shutoffs a bit quicker and easier.  The little horizontal bit of wire before the switch is designed to accommodate a fence indicator light. It should be clearly visible from my kitchen window, allowing me to quickly see if there are any major problems with the fence.


Just a bit further down the line, the leadout wire goes through this lovely homemade lightning choke just before it connects to the fence.  The general design of the choke is taken from Electric Fencing for Serious Graziers [PDF].  I’ve read that a larger diameter choke is more effective for higher voltages (a lightning strike is on the order of millions to billions of volts) so it ought to do a better job than the little store-bought lightning coils.


Right next to the lighting choke is the spark gap.  The spark gap connects (if the conditions are right) the lightning ground system to the rest of the fence.  The lightning ground is a slightly-better ground system (6 rods instead of the energizers 5) that will hopefully give any errant lighting-strike a place to go that is a safe distance away from the electric-fencer, our buildings and any animals.  Again, this is a homemade device, a bit of 2×4, some 12ga double-insulated wire and a few small conduit clamps.


With all that out of the way there is just one small matter left: getting out the pickaxe to dig in another electric gate.