Before you buy fencing or do anything, you must define a project area with fencing first.
Fences in the country aren’t necessarily to keep people away and to provide privacy like in the city and suburbs. Rural fencing usually has a functional purpose. In fact, any improvement made to a rural property usually has a clear functional basis. Early on, we identified in our plan for our homestead an area that would serve as our core area. It was nearly four acres and would contain our garden, small livestock, and a greenhouse as well as our utility buildings and our home. We decided to fence that area.
How to define a project area with fencing
What is your reason for fencing
Originally, our reason for fencing it was to create boundaries for our livestock guardian dogs and prevent them from expanding their territory too far.
Several years ago we purchased an old homestead that had no structures or real improvements on the property. Over a hundred years ago, the European immigrants homesteaded here. It was clear that they worked hard. They most likely worked by hand or with the help of work horses. They cleared a large pasture. Some fence corners were still standing with barbed wire. They established an orchard many decades ago.
Barely visible under brush and brambles, a crumbled house foundation indicated where a home once stood. But other than that, it was pretty much a blank slate. The property was a large piece, and quite honestly, planning what to do with it was a bit overwhelming. Where could we start making this ours?
I made a decision that ended up making a huge impact on us. We built a fence.
Fences serve many purposes
The fence served another purpose just as important and valuable. It helped us to stay focused on what was important and what wasn’t. No longer do we have to look at the whole piece of property and wonder “where do we start?” We now have an area defined by fencing. On a large piece of property, in essence we work a four-acre homestead. That four-acre piece has become my FIRST priority. We still have projects going on other parts of our property, but most of our time and energy is spent on the area within the fences.
Being able to properly prioritize is a huge benefit to one’s sanity! I wonder if our forefathers knew that secret when they fenced small areas many, many years ago. While this isn’t specifically a “how to” post for fencing, it is one to encourage you to plan and build one for yourself if you don’t already have one.
Different types of fencing
Determine what the fence will do.
Typically, fences “multi-task” by keeping some things in and some things out. What do you want to keep in or out? This will help you determine the kind of fence you do and don’t want to build. For us, a primary reason for our perimeter fence was to keep our livestock guardian dogs enclosed so they will patrol and watch over the important core homestead area without wandering away. We also wanted a physical barrier to keep predators and deer out. In the future we will be building more fences to enclose hogs, chickens, cattle, and possibly horses.
Determine the type of fence you will build.
This depends primarily on function– what you want it to do–because skimping here can be financially and practically disastrous. Other considerations for the fencing type are aesthetic–how it looks–and how long it will last. But certainly the cost of the fence is also a major factor. I would never recommend downgrading the type or quality of the fence you build due to cost. Instead, I suggest that you reduce the amount you fence at a time by doing the work in affordable phases.
Types of fencing
This is used mostly to fence larger animals into a large area, as the cost per foot of the overall fence is very reasonable. Barbed wire should not be used for horses; they tend to lean into fences and can injure themselves. Cattle, on the other hand, are not as likely to push into fences. See closeup photo of barbed wire above.
Wire mesh field fencing
This is a very popular kind of fencing that comes in various strength, mesh sizes, and height options.
For our perimeter fence, we used a 48″ high heavier duty/smaller gauge fence that had smaller openings at the bottom than at the top. We used wooden corner posts to anchor the fence, with metal T posts at 8′ centers or so. I like this fence a lot. It is very functional and it’s attractive in our rural setting. It will last a long, long time as well. Cost-wise it is a bit more expensive than most options, but we see it as a very long term investment in our homestead.
High tensile wire fence
I am now experimenting with this type of fence to see if I will be using it for my larger fields. It is a very good concept, flexible and fairly economical. It has the potential to be my fence of the future. High tensile fencing is constructed by setting strong corner post assemblies in the ground and attaching strands of high tensile steel wire between them. Line posts are spaced 25-50′ apart, substantially farther than posts for wire mesh fencing.
This type of fence can have any number of wire strands, including just a single strand that contains cattle very effectively. I have seen different farms using various numbers of strands depending on the purpose of the fence. A property perimeter might have 5 or 6 strands, while a cattle paddock may have 2 or 3. This makes the fencing system very flexible for many uses. Create tension using springs. I have seen in video where something like a tree falls on the fence. The wire strands do not stretch. After the tree is removed, the spring tension returns the fencing to its original shape. One final great benefit of this fence is that some or all of the strands can easily be electrified. For a photo of high tensile fencing, click here.
This looks to be a great option for a very flexible and portable fence. I’ve seen photographs of these fences containing all sorts of small livestock. The fencing comes in 100′ or 150 ‘ rolls. You will be able to roll and move the fence. The netting is designed to be electrified. We intend to use these for our hogs and chickens this season.
Mark the fence lines
Once you’ve decided what type of fencing to build, use some large stakes to mark out your fence lines. Plan for a wooden post at each corner and at any point where there is a change in direction. If you have a “valley” or a hill” in the fence line, be sure to put a wooden post at either the bottom or the top of each slope. Measure for fencing and calculate the number of wood and metal posts you’ll need. Then go shopping. Be sure to choose treated and solid wooden posts. I select mine by hand. After you purchase your materials and bring them home, you can install your fence.
Take the time to properly define a project area with fencing so you can do it right the first time.