First I want to thank all of you that contributed in some way to this project. Through the kickstarter, or with your encouraging words, or your sweat and hard work here on the farm, we couldn't have finished this without your help!
According to every sheep book and blog out there, ensuring you have a good fence for your sheep is the first thing that any sheep farmer should focus on. Having never built any sort of fence we spent a lot of time this past spring researching, planning and pricing out fencing options. I highly recommend this book about building fences and what type is best for your livestock, it was an incredible resource to us.
Our land is beautiful and diverse, and also very wet - so trying to decide where we could actually keep a small flock of sheep with good pasture, while also working with (rather than against) our natural ecosystem became the focus. There is evidence that at some point horses or a few cows were kept in the pasture area behind the house, but the grass was very overgrown and only a few rotting fence posts and rusty wire were left to show for it.
We decided to build a 4 acre perimeter fence with pressure treated wood posts, and field fencing. We decided to go with the field fencing because it will be the most effective at keeping predators out (we are hoping) and keeping our flock in. We will then use moveable electric netting fence to facilitate the rotational grazing that we plan to do.
In order to keep costs down, and to finish it quickly we organized a 'barn raising' type party with Luke's family. On fathers day weekend family all convened on our property and helped us dig holes, pound posts in, and get all the equipment out to the pasture. I was absolutely amazed at the hard work, and the willingness of everyone to help out. Even my 2 year old niece was helping bring water bottles out to the field! The collective, familial coming together was incredible, not only was the bulk of the work completed in one day, but it was a beautiful thing to see three generations of family working together, Luke was even using his grandpa's mallet for pounding the posts!
After all the posts were in the ground, Luke and I spent the next two weeks stretching the fence and securing it to the posts. We attached a temporary gate from the portable pig pen, and the pasture is secure. Our three pigs are now enjoying unfettered access to the pasture (for a few more weeks) and we are one big step closer to bringing the sheep home.
The next step is to build the three sided sheep shelter, and then we will be ready. We have just returned from a week vacation to celebrate my parents 40th wedding anniversary, and now we are ready to get back to work!