Now, there may be some folks who have an acute passion for animal welfare (that more than likely have never actually raised them) who may take some exception to the following essay… but I can assure all of you that the programs described actually enhance the welfare of our animals by keeping them away from the hinterlands where the boogey men await… and love hog on the hoof! And these programs allow the outside hog farmer to be an effective outside hog farmer. Spending all of your days chasing feral hogs just isn’t productive, nor sustainable.
I have miles of hot-wire… electric fencing. Here it’s used along both sides of fence bottoms … internally to keep the rascals from digging their way out from their lairs, destroying labor intensive fencing and the like. The external wire is to keep the boogey men from invading their lairs to wreak havoc on the inhabitants. In Montana, Grizzly Bears are the leaders of the boogey men tribe.
The entire network of metal wire is driven by a charger… a solar/AC power box that sends electrical charges out in pulses… click, click, click it goes night and day, rain or shine.
Now… the trick is keeping this network functioning effectively. All manner of problems can interrupt the working order of the network… fresh mounds of dirt thrown on top of a section by our destructive and quite intelligent Berkshires… limbs can fall on the wires… other farm subjects (sheep) can push the field wire against the hot wire and short it out… metal on metal is always the most compete and effective short… often shutting the system down entirely… vegetation (grass) can grow around the wire… etc.
Our porcine friends know almost immediately when the hot-wire is down, or reduced enough to not act as an effective deterrent in any way whatsoever. When this happens the sanctity of the farm is dramatically compromised. Fence bottoms are stretched creating additional shorts, insulators are broken, the Berks suddenly rediscover the art of fence climbing in an effort to ‘socialize’ with their neighbors and on and on. If the system is down long enough… animals, particularly smaller young pigs will escape their lairs.
This is when the fun begins… I’ll put my handy little hot wire tester on the wire to test voltage… and it reads 0. Pigs will look up at me, dirt on their noses, in total glee… it’s their turn to become the masters of the farm. Finally they are in charge… the mastered have now become the master. What fun!
Well… the original master… the one who built the facilities to provide for the originally mastered needs… housing, protection, feed, water, etc… has to drop every other necessary and scheduled chore and go about locating the short(s) straight away to thwart all the new founded freedom and fun our beloved Berkshire’s are partaking in.
Ok… normally there are the usual suspects… particular stretches that have a history of problems… critical control points if you will… these are checked first. No… there’s something else… so you go about your systematic walking of the entire system looking for the perpetrator of the malfeasance… all the while the dirt is flying creating additional problems… it becomes this snow ball from hell (yeah, that’s an oxymoron for you)… you have to work as fast as you can to get ahead of the furry little @#&%. No… your first complete trek around the system finds nothing… still the dirt is flying like rooster tails from the working end of a dirt bike… on to the second systematic walking of the system. Nothing. Now you can hear the field wire stretching… testing the grit of the fence staples… now it’s time to actually isolate the system in sections (what you knowingly know you should have done in the beginning)… yeah, the problem is in a particular area… so you go about combing that little community for the reason you’ve had to spend a couple hours now using up critical time you needed for your other tasks …
Alas! There it is… one single piece of metal the original owner decided to bury, along with a bunch of other crap… out of sight out of mind I guess… this insignificant little strip that was freed from its intended tomb by our lovely little pod of pigs and pushed up on the wire… and bam… down goes the entire system.
So you quickly remove that problem… re-connect the system… run around and remove all other relatively minor problems created during the shut down… and Mother of God… the litter tester conveys the magic number… 4 kv.
Now… here’s the rub for the squeamish… the once silent period on the farm… short of the stretching fence lines… is broken. Fresh chirps and squeals briefly echo across the land like songbirds on a summer morn. A musical harmony like a warm blanket next to a campfire for the old farmer.
Pigs are looking at me again… fence line dirt having fallen from their noses like cool water on a hot day. Respect for the original master has returned. But… in turn… respect for the originally mastered has been reiterated… restored.
This is the gist of Electric Warfare on the hog farm. It’s really somewhat like the gross and unfortunate nuclear warfare chess game. They have theirs and I have mine. When my system is in place and operating as it should… the effective standoff is secured.
Happy Father’s Day everyone.