As I’m sure you know, Dapple was the name of Sancho Panza’s donkey. (Panza also roughly translates as belly, which Sancho was said to have a generous amount of.)

I got a report about mid-week that there had been another cattle incursion across my Ozark woods. Apparently, the cattle got through my eastern fence, crossed a good bit of my land, and then detoured into my neighbor’s bean field to have a snack. (And apparently this lasted for three days. I get this information from another neighbor who is down there a lot and knows everyone.) By Saturday, when I could get down there, the cattle — 29 to 30 of them — had been rounded up and restored to their own pasture, but I had to find how they got through my fence and then decide what to do about it. The neighbor whose beans got eaten was the one to herd them back home, and he said they found their way to a “weak spot” in my eastern fence below my dam. (It’s actually my eastern neighbor’s fence, though I have done a little maintenance on it after past incursions.) So on Saturday, after I unpacked the truck, and threw a backpack on my shoulders and put a pair of loppers in my hand I hiked down below my dam. That’s what you see in the photo above. (Looking west, so the fence is behind me.) From there I pushed through the tall grass, following the very evident path the homeward-bound cattle had taken, and got to the fence. I didn’t see any breaks in it or even any weak spots. I’m not sure how my neighbor persuaded the cattle to get themselves through it.

Nonetheless, I was pretty sure they did not enter my property there. My guess was that they came in at my northeast corner where there is an old drop gate that has been falling to pieces for years. It’s a temporary gate that is easy to open and close, but it’s made of only barbed wire and posts that are not in the ground. Basically, tension holds it in place, and the gate has not been feeling tense for a long time.

So I hiked up that direction and saw unmistakable signs that the cattle had come down the hill I was going up. There were hoof prints in the mud going toward my dam. When I got to the corner, my hypothesis was confirmed. There was a gap in the old gate wide enuf for cattle to push through, which they had. Thus I confirmed that the cattle who ate my neighbor’s beans had gotten to them because of a weakness in my fence. (Or my eastern neighbor’s fence, though he is not apparently too concerned about it.)

I had slammed a couple of posts into the ground here the last time this happened in an attempt to fortify the gate, but it hadn’t been enuf, so I had to decide what I would do about it. I wandered back to my cabin and sat for a while to ponder it. (I do a lot of pondering at my cabin.)

I did feel responsible for my neighbor’s bean loss*, especially since I had known about this weakness before and confirmed it on this visit. Plus, the cattle have done this at least twice now, so they’ve learned how to get themselves a snack. My thought was that I would have to rebuild that drop gate somehow, so I jumped in my truck and drove into town to ask advice at the hardware store. They sent me to the feed store. It was there that I bought a (difficult to photograph) stock fence panel:

The dappled sunlight makes it hard to see, but this beast is about four feet by fifteen feet (much too wide for the gap), and I needed to get it about a quarter of a mile into the trackless forest by myself. After getting it out of the back of my truck, shown here:

I tried carrying it upright beside me, slipping my arm through the wire and grabbing it lower. That didn’t work very well since its weight was resting on my shoulder, and it was dragging and digging into the ground behind me. I figured the quarter mile hike was going to be a long one, but then I dropped the panel flat and gripped it behind me, dragging it across the ground where it snagged on every fallen branch and protruding rock. But I made much better progress and soon had it to the incursion site.

Then it was a “simple” matter of sliding the thing into place betwixt the existing wooden posts (possibly older than I am) and the steel posts I had slammed in the area recently. This involved a lot of tugging and pulling and colorful language, but I managed to get it in place. And it wasn’t too wide for the gap. In fact, it was just wide enuf.

Here is another dappled photo, this time showing the panel in place:

I need to return soon to put more posts in place and wire the panel to them. I don’t think the cattle can get through this as it stands, but I don’t want to find out, and I want to show that I’m doing all I can about the problem. (February is my preferred time to walk my entire perimeter to look for problems like this.)

My wife was in Seattle as this was happening, and I had left the dogs at home this trip because they’re mostly a nuisance at the cabin, so I was eager to get back home to let them out (and to clean at least a little of the house before my wife returned on Sunday).


*He had left his gate open though.

Explore posts in the same categories: Roundrock

One Comment on “dapple”

  1. Stock fence panels keep my poodle-stock from chasing cows!

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