A good fence that will turn anything from a chicken to a bull is one of the best money makers that can be put on a farm. Shawnee County, Kansas, farmers have learned that from experience. H.B. Cowles is a breeder of Holstein cattle and keeps a flock of 700 chickens. His farm fronts on a paved road which carries a large volume of traffic. A few years ago, he put up a woven wire fence 54 inches in height with steel posts and a barbed wire 4 inches above the woven wire. Corner posts and braces are set in concrete blocks which make the posts so firm that the fence never has sagged.
“I was forced to build a good fence,” said Mr. Cowles. “Chickens which passing cars would kill if I had a poor fence will pay mighty good interest on my investment in fence. During the season when grain is being hauled to town, it is hard to keep chickens from flocking to the road. One speeding car can kill six or eight, and that means just that many dollars lost.
“That isn’t all. I can’t run the risk of my cattle breaking into the highway. One animal killed or dangerously crippled would be a loss equivalent to a fifth of my total fence cost. Stray livestock has no right in the road. If some of my stock caused a motor car accident that resulted in serious injury or death, there is no way to tell how much it might cost me. The courts have held that the owner of strays is responsible, and a severe accident might cost me as much as my farm is worth.”
Harry T. Forbes, a Shorthorn breeder, has his entire farm fenced and cross fenced hog tight.
“I believe my fence will last for 50 years with little repair,” said Mr. Forbes. “Every post is steel. The corner posts are set in concrete blocks 18 inches square and 4 feet deep. Each one has four steel braces, the lower ends of which are set in huge concrete blocks. The corner posts and the way they are braced is the whole fence. Just snap that wire once. It sings like a fiddle string when you let loose of it. It will stay that way because the corners are firm.
“I like to burn my fence rows, and I have done it each year since I built this fence. I set the fire when the grass and weeds are dry, and the burning is finished so quickly that the flame doesn’t even blacken the wire or the posts. I burn chinch bugs and other insect pests in their winter quarters.
“We believe our fence beautifies the farm and adds to its value. If I sold the farm today, I could get enough more by reason of the fence to pay all my fencing costs.
“My Shorthorns will command greater respect and a higher price because of what the fence adds to the appearance of the farm. The man who comes here to buy and finds everything spick and span certainly is going to have more respect for my stock and consequently will be willing to pay more for it than if he found tumbled down buildings and rickety fences. A farmer who is careless in keeping up his farm is likely to be careless in keeping up the quality of his herd.
“Another advantage from such a fence is that I am protected from the outside as well as the inside. I cannot afford to have a stray bull break into the pasture and sire a scrub calf.”
Woven wire and steel posts also are used at the Forbes farm for lawn, garden and poultry yard. The lawn fence is of a mesh small enough to turn even baby chicks. Steel posts with decorative balls at the top are used. The lawn gate is made of steel, over which is stretched wire to match the fence. Flowers and small ornamental evergreens are planted along the fence.
Mrs. Forbes specializes in purebred poultry. She has 250 Single Comb Buff Orpingtons, 300 Single Comb Buff Leghorns, and 300 Single Comb Brown Leghorns. She sells show birds and eggs from specially mated hens. Steel posts and woven wire are used for all the mating pens.
The entrance to the Cowles and Forbes farms is of a type that well might be copied on other farms. The gate is set back far enough from the road so a team and wagon may be stopped entirely on the owner’s property when opening the gate. Instead of setting the gate in the regular fence line, corner posts are set and braced 40 feet apart on either side of the farm entrance. Gate posts then are set 20 feet apart and 50 feet back from the property line. The fence then is extended from these corner posts to the gate posts.
This gives room enough for a team and a load of hay to be stopped at the entrance, the gates swung open toward them, and yet have team and hayrack entirely on the owner’s land. Mr. Forbes also has his mailbox set in on his own property. The mail carrier can pull in the driveway, which is well graveled, instead of having to pull to the side of the road, which is muddy when it rains.
“If the gate is built in the regular fence line,” said Mr. Forbes, “it always is necessary to stop a team or a car in the road when opening the gate. I live on a graveled road, and there are plenty of cars whizzing by. If one of them hit one of my vehicles while it was stopped on the highway, I might be defendant in a damage suit. With my gate set back from the road, I am safe. Any driver who hits me now would be solely liable, for he has to come on my property to do it.”
D.C. Freer, another Shawnee County farmer, specializes in hog production. He has 1,000 rods of hog-tight fence on his 100-acre farm.
“We raise purebred Duroc Jerseys,” said Mr. Freer, “and most of our hogs are sold as breeders. You can’t sell them for that purpose unless they are big and growthy. You can’t make them big and growthy if you don’t use the McLean County system of sanitation, and you can’t use the McLean County system without plenty of good fence.
“We have nine fields fenced hog tight. We could get along with less fence, but it would not pay us to do so. If we attempted to economize on fences, we would have constantly to tear down and rebuild. That takes time. I am afraid we would find frequently that there was no time to move a fence when it ought to be moved, and that would interfere with our sanitation plan. It doesn’t take many moves to ruin a fence. In the long run, it is cheaper to buy plenty of fence, put it up where it belongs, and leave it there.
“Hogs husk about 750 bushels of corn on this farm every year. At 6 cents a bushel, that is $45 annually that fence saves. Tomorrow I am going to mow a field of soybeans for the cows. As soon as the hay is off, I shall open up the gate and let the hogs into the field. They will pick up any waste that has been left. The change will do them good. It is worth a good deal to turn a growing pig into a strange field and let him pick up what he can find. It helps him to balance his ration and makes for a thrift.
“A growing pig will not get the exercise he needs if he is not induced to forage a bit. Then, too, with plenty of fence, I can give my brood sows the range they require. You always get better litters, and have less trouble at farrowing time, if sows have had an abundance of exercise during the period of gestation.
“We had 20 acres of wheat this year. Just as soon as we’d threshed, hogs went into the wheat stubble. They scurried about from one side of the field to another and picked up every head of wheat that had fallen. All the grain wasted by the threshing machine was saved. Fences are the investment on this farm. They enable us to grow healthy hogs, save us labor, and help us utilize all waste products.”
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