News Letter: Fall 2001

Back to Fencing ...

down the hill to the stream looking up the hill

Even though Fall has become Winter, we have had to take up fencing again in earnest. On October 23rd the neighbor's Husky attacked three groups of our sheep. This came at the end of our breeding season, and one of the groups was a large group of ewes with their ram. Whether or not they will have lost their lambs is unknown until next March.

In another of the groups, the dog would have killed one of the ram lambs had I not taken it by the collar and dragged it (snapping and biting) off of the lambs. Why didn't I shoot it? By the time I would have gone to get the gun, it would have killed one of the lambs. Colorado law would have me only shoot the dog in the act of killing. For the same reason I didn't take the time to get the camera so as to photograph the dog attacking the sheep. Our two Pyrenees were off in the far field barking at the neighbor going up and down the road on his tractor with his dogs running along with him.

We have filed reports with Larimer County and await their action. Since October 23rd the dog has been back attacking the sheep again on November 26th. Again we filed another report with the County. Meanwhile we have taken up fencing again in an effort to keep their dog off of our property. We had guessed that the dog was going down to the river/creek/stream (which has been a dry bed for some time now) and coming around the north fence line to get onto our property. Above you can see on the left the neighbor's idea of a proper fence. The photo on the right shows the hill coming down to the river. On the left you are looking down the same hill, and on the right you are looking up.

It was almost an impossible task to extend the fence line down that hill and across the river. I used the chainsaw to remove heavy clumps of willows and brush so that we could clear a path for the fence. The neighbor came over to see what we were doing and to insist that we NOT touch HIS fence. In addition to being ignorant of "dangerous dog" laws, he also doesn't seem to know that any boundary fence line is owned by both land owners, regardless of who put up the fence. We wouldn't want to touch his rotty old fence anyway. We would be happy if he could succeed at controlling his dog.

One difficulty of fencing across a stream is that some day there will be water flowing again (when the drought ends) and in fact it could be quite a lot of water. The 50 feet of fencing that actually crosses the stream we put up as a separate fence, so that when a flood takes the fencing, hopefully we will only have to replace that part. We also hung a swinging panel on the lower 20 feet of fence that actually is in the stream bed. It's our hope that this will swing enough for debris to pass through without taking out the fence.

It is possible that an animal could press hard enough on this panel (from the north side) to open it, but it "appears" to be a barrier. We know that our Pyrs have corned coyotes against the panel already ... so it is of some use there.

Fencing in this type of terrain is difficult at best. At least there are enough good sized rocks to move into and fill the voids along the bottom of the fence. It isn't possible to run an electric hot wire and keep it charged. The high winds twist the wires and push brush (sage and tumble weed like bushes) into them so they are grounded out and no longer give a shock. When it is so dry, its also not possible to get a good enough ground wire to the wire charger so that it functions properly.

working the fenceline down the hill working the fenceline across the stream
fence across the stream

The finished bit that crosses the stream is shown in these two photos. All together it took us four weekends to do this last 300 feet of fencing.

The next dilemma is to figure out how to get up on top of the west cliff above the stream so that we can work on the last 1000 feet or so of the north fence line. Actually we can get up there, its just the problem of getting the rolls of fence wire, and the generator and the rock hammer drill up there so that we can set the t-posts.

swinging cattlepanel

Never mind that the fencing is such hard work. The well being of the sheep is what is most important. That the neighbor's dog is trying to kill the sheep seems to be a point that is of no consequence to the neighbor. He doesn't seem to understand that the sheep have no defense against his dog, nor that they can suffer harm just from the stress of such an attack. We would be miles ahead if only there was some way to educate this person ... its hard to believe that someone could be so dense or just so uncaring about the lives of animals, even though they are "just sheep"?

I can only hope that the coming of Winter will bring with it some peace for our flock, as well as for others whose lives have been difficult these past few months.

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