We have taken an alternative method of containing our sheep. Most people use wire mesh or something to contain sheep and keep predators out on a small farm like ours. On bigger farms they have a large barbed wire or electric fence that surrounds them during the day and a tighter enclosure for the nights. We didn’t have the money to fence our entire 5 acres with gates and whatnot. And we didn’t really want the sheep enclosed in one place because their job is to cut the grass. If you contain them to one spot, how do they mow all of the grass and blackberries?
Our solution was a portable electric fence. Our original idea was to keep the sheep in the portable pen and move it every day to a new area for them to eat. We didn’t really think of how we were going to move them while keeping them contained, but we knew we would figure something out.
After our first experience with the sheep, we were hesitant to move them because we were afraid we would have to relive that first night. Eventually my wife said, “they don’t really go anywhere. Why don’t we just take the fence down and put it up somewhere else and then herd them into the new spot?” Right, like that would work. Well, it did.
We have progressed a long ways since then. The sheep now roam the property most of the day and we just put them in a pen at night. We often have people come over and ask, “… but what is keeping your sheep in?” Well, we have a barbed wire fence down one side of the property that the sheep just don’t mess with. Sure, they could probably squeeze between the wires at some points, but they haven’t. On the other side the neighbors have an electric fence for their horses. The lowest electrified wire is at about 3 feet and our sheep aren’t much taller than 2 feet. There is a lower wire on the electric fence, but it is not electrified.
For the first several weeks, the sheep completely avoided the non-electrified wire just because it was in their line of vision and that was enough of a deterrent, Then one day one of the sheep put her dead down and grazed right under the fence. She couldn’t figure out how she got over there and couldn’t figure out how to get back. I had to help. Then they started wandering over there daily and we decided we needed to fix the problem. I still don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a fence, so I bought a big spool of yellow string. I asked the neighbors and then ran a fourth line on their electric fence. Of course it’s not electrified because it is nothing more than yellow string, but the sheep respect it. They see the string and stay away. The lambs occasionally cross it, but they are far more agile than the older sheep. The older sheep just can’t figure out how to get across it.
Mission accomplished. I have created Fort Knox in my back yard using magical yellow string. The only breech in security I’ve had was when someone was using a hand scythe to take down blackberries and accidently cut the magical yellow string. But after I did that, I repaired it.
Now we’re looking at a gate for the front so I don’t have to go out and herd the sheep toward the back several times a day, but for now they pretty much just stay where they are supposed to.
Oh, and I have some new pictures of lambs that I haven’t posted yet.