Video: Clearing Fencelines in the Woods

About twice every year I need to clear fallen trees and branches off the fencelines that run through the woods. I captured some video while I worked on that project today. I also detail how we string fences along trees in a way that protects the trunks.

These fences allow us to balance the need to contain our cattle while also letting deer and other wild animals pass through our farm. It is important that the farm be a place of abundance and diversity. We need to use this landscape well, creating many layers of opportunity for different plants and animals to thrive here.

Providing woodland grazing for the cattle is a great addition to our pasture grazing. Grass fed beef cattle benefit from some of the plants that grow in forested areas. And they appreciate sheltering in the shade on hot days. We call this silvopasture, the combination of forest and pasture. We’ve been pursuing silvopasture development from two ends, both managing the forest for better grazing and planting more trees into our open pastures.

Transcript

Hey this is Dave, your farmer from Wrong Direction Farm. Today I’m out in the woods clearing some fence lines. We had some trees — you can see behind me this hemlock tree fell on this fence line.

When we’re out in the pasture you know we can string the fences on posts and it’s pretty easy to keep them maintained. But when we push the cattle through the woods we’ve got to deal with more trees. And about twice a year I go out here and clear off whatever’s fallen on the fence line. It’s a nice cool day in late October, so it’s a good day to be out in the woods. I just brought the small chainsaw with me.
I wanted to show you how we fence off the forest. So here we have a hickory tree I’m using as a corner post. And what I’ve done is I’ve put the two by fours, treated two by fours and I’ve spiked them onto the tree with some 20 penny nails. And this is a corner post so we have two sets of wooden nailers on there. And then I have insulators and the electric fence wire runs through the insulators. So I really like this method because it allows the tree as it grows to just push these wooden boards outward and it doesn’t let the wire grow into the trees. We have a lot of old trees around here where people just stapled barbed wire right onto the tree and the tree grew out over it. And those things they love to eat up chainsaws, because you get into it and you don’t know there’s a piece of barbed wire in there. And click! They ruin the blade. That’s why I like this method so much better: no damage to the trees and you can get a fence through the woods relatively easily.

When I set up these fences in the woods I usually try to keep the top wire about even with the palm of my hand. It’s a height that works to keep the cattle in but it also allows the deer to jump over the fence. We don’t want to, you know, prohibit the deer from making this one of their spots. We’d like to have deer and everything else on the farm.

So I like solutions that allow our farm to be a productive habitat for the wildlife while also being a profitable farm for our family. I think that’s part of managing a landscape well.

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