For this year’s Farm Fix-Up issue, we sur-

veyed our readers to learn more about their fences. No surprise, more of our readers have board fencing than any other kind. Did you know that in other parts of the country, dark board fencing is known as “Maryland fence?” Kentucky is known for its white board fences, and we are known for our dark board fencing (once upon a time, they were creosoted; these days, they are left to age naturally, or are oiled or painted).

What kinds of fencing do our readers have?

- 45% have three- or four-board fencing (al- most equally divided) - 30% have some sort of no-climb/mesh fenc- ing (most topped with a board) - 30% rely on electrifi ed fencing (coated wire, ribbons, ropes, tapes, braids, etc.) - Remainders were spread pretty evenly be- tween split rail, Centaur, vinyl-covered boards, and high tensile, sometimes augmented with hot wire. We know this number adds up to more than

100%; that is because about 35% of our partici- pants had a mix of fence types on their prop- erty. T e reasons for mixed fencing were varied and included

- transitioning in phases to a new type of fencing - varying needs for diff erent pastures, livestock or types or ages of horses - presentation fencing along roads, lower-cost fencing in the back - blending to augment primary fencing (e.g., running an electric strand across a top board).

The Power of Choice | 800-244-9580

About 90% of our respondents selected their fencing; for the remaining 10%, the fencing was already installed on the property when they ac- quired it. For that 10%, it was about evenly split as to whether they liked it or not. We are not going to claim that this represents the actual ratio of farm owners, just those who responded. It could be that people who are proud of and

pleased with their choices were more likely to respond.

Of those respondents who selected their

Maryland’s most popular horse fencing is BOARD!

fencing, about a 97% of them were thrilled with their choices and would do it all over again. Of those who chose their fencing (as opposed to living with what was already there), 60% had the fencing pro- fessionally installed, while 35% in- stalled it themselves. T e remainder

did a combination (e.g., had a profes- sional install the posts, with the owner installing the boards, wire or tape).

Board Fencing: Love it or Hate it

T ose who love board fencing, love 43% will be installing

new fencing within the next two years.

it. T ose who don’t, don’t! Comments from those who love it say that they wouldn’t have anything else, it is the gold standard, it is the safest, it is the lowest maintenance, and it is the best looking. T ose who hate it usually cite maintenance as the reason! Whaaaaa? It is the best because it is low mainte- nance, or it is the worst because it is the highest maintenance? How can that be? Looking more closely at the re- sponses, the majority of the people who are unhappy with it installed it themselves. T ere may be more similarities (such as treated vs. untreated, aged vs. green), but our survey did not

drill down that deep. Hemlock boards received a thumbs-down; oak boards were clearly the winner.

Electric – Augmenting Fifty percent of the farm owners

with board fencing also used electric. Most used it to protect the fence from the horses (either to protect the top board from cribbers/chewers, to keep horses from leaning on the posts, or to prevent fi ghting over shared fence lines). Some used portable electric to divide the pastures into smaller pad- docks for rotation.

Electric – Primary For those farm owners who used some type

of electric as their primary fencing, the main reason was because of its aff ordability, and the secondary reason was its fl exibility. Of those who installed their own fencing, it was pre- dominantly some version of electric.

continued ...

T e Spring Ritual: Mending Fences T e ground thaws and it is time for the annual rite

of spring: walking the fence line. Making sure posts are still straight, the mesh or wire is taut, or the boards haven’t popped. Replacing warped or broken boards, tightening the wire, shoring up old posts or pounding in new ones. Robert Frost even wrote an ode to this ritual rural

life, albeit the fence in the poem is a stone wall fence, which sounds much more romantic; he even includes a complaint about those following a pack of harriers!

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

T at sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun; And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. T e work of hunters is another thing: I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone, But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, To please the yelping dogs. T e gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made, But at spring mending-time we fi nd them there. I let my neighbor know beyond the hill; And on a day we meet to walk the line And set the wall between us once again. We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each. And some are loaves and some so nearly balls Bringing a stone grasped fi rmly by the top In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed. He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees. He will not go behind his father’s saying, And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.” - Condensed from Robert Frost’s “Mending Walls”


Katherine O. Rizzo

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