Homestead Fencing For Your Garden
DIY Fence Installation Options for Protecting your Homestead Garden
When it comes to protecting your garden from being consumed by the local wildlife, homestead fencing options are numerous. We’ve always been DIY fence installation people when it came to homestead fencing for the garden. There are many ways gardeners go about trying to keep the garden fruit from being destroyed or consumed before it can be harvested.
If you’ve read my articles before, then you’re familiar with a saying of my Papa’s which we try to live by. “There’s as many ways of gettin’ a farm job done as there’s farmers. Ya gotta be willing to listen, help, and learn from ’em, even if it’s just to see what not to do.” Believe me when I say we have tried many different types of homestead fencing for protecting our garden from pesky critters. We’ve noted the strengths and weaknesses of each idea we’ve put into practice. This is another arena where keeping a good garden journal comes in handy.
A lot depends on where you live and the population levels of rabbits, deer, raccoon and other bandits just waiting for the right opportunity to abscond with the fruits of your labor. If you don’t have a large number of garden predators you might want to consider planting enough for the few who may wander in for a nibble or two. You know the old-timers saying, “One for the mouse, one for the crow, one to wither, and one to grow.” We’ve never lived in an area where it would make sense to do this, so we’ve searched high and low for the easiest, cheapest and fastest ways to protect our garden from pests.
If you have access to reliable electricity, the DIY electric fence is a great homestead fencing option. They also make solar powered electric fences. Now that we’re living in an off-the-grid home, we may try one. Electric fences are easy to set up and install, but if you’re not comfortable with DIY, there are many videos and tutorials on the web to tell you how to install an electric fence.
Animals can smell the current in the electric fence. I’ve observed that once they are “gotten” by the fence, they teach others to avoid the smell. We had a dog who would often steer clear of anything that resembled the powered fence line once he had been shocked. We used electric fencing for horses also. They wouldn’t come up to the feed boxes until they had reached their noses out to smell the fence.
One of the cons of this fence is it only works when it has power. A few years ago we were driving in and found three deer standing inside the electric fence eating the almost ready to harvest corn. They didn’t get much, but as they ran for the woods they trampled a lot of plants. Come to find out, the electricity had been off while we were gone. They must have sensed the change in the current and decided our garden was open for business.
Something we learned through trial and error is to combine homestead fencing ideas. This way you can strengthen the weakness of your main choice of fencing. With the electric fence, we strung one strand of electric wire four to six inches off the ground and another strand about two feet off the ground directly above it. Then we strung a line of string around the top of all the t-posts as deer won’t jump something that is moving in the wind. We tied old CDs to the top of the fence posts so they dangled and caught the sun and moonlight as they twirled in the slightest breeze. We also tied tin pie plates and survey plastic in scattered places around our garden which was a little over a half acre. This ensured if the electric fencing was off, there were other deterrents present.
This worked like a charm. We kept out the raccoons because a raccoon will generally touch a wire before trying to climb over or under it. The rabbits would hit their ears trying to hop under the wire. The deer wouldn’t try to jump the moving string with the CDs and tin pie plates spinning to the music of the wind. The CDs turned out to be a very effective deer-deterrent strategy after all. Likewise, the birds didn’t care for the CDs, string and pie plates. We also had some cows which would, once or twice a year, find a way through a fence or gate and the electric fence was powerful enough to persuade them to stick to the grass and leave the garden alone.
The hardest predator we had with this system was the crow. The crow is a very smart bird. They like to eat your seeds right after you plant them and peck your fruit apart in the early mornings and late evenings.
We always put up George, our scarecrow, as we planted our peas. You may be asking yourself: “do scarecrows work?” Well, George would work for a day or two and then the crows would land on and around him. We tried moving him, but after a day or two they would be back to being best buds with George. We tried hanging wind chimes on George’s arms, CD’s, and pie plates off his head. He never complained about any of it! But … after a few days, the crows would be back to let George know they enjoyed his new bling while they surveyed the garden for their next meal.
An old timer told me years ago if I would hang a dead crow up by the garden, it would keep the other crows away until said dead crow decomposed completely. So as fate would have it, one of those pesky crows bit the electric wire with his beak. I found him next morning dead by the fence with his beak burnt through. Strange as it may sound, my husband fastened him to a corner t-post. To my surprise we didn’t see another crow in the garden the rest of the year. Yet another time an old-timer’s advice saved the day!
Another homestead fencing option, for those who have the resources, is a rustic wooden fence. Using a wooden fence three to four foot high is great as long as every ten feet you put in a seven to eight foot high timber. The reason behind this is a deer will look at the highest point of a fence to make a decision if it’s possible to clear the jump or not. I was told this by an old mountain man who has always used this type of fence in an area densely populated with deer and elk. He has had success with it all his mountain life. I would add a little string with cds connected to the tops of the seven foot pieces, just because I wanted to. This is a cheap and power-free way to protect your garden. Best of all, it works for years at a time without any other investment of time, money or resources.
Hardware wire, especially rabbit wire, is good at keeping rabbits and small animals from getting in. It will not keep raccoons and opossums out because they will climb in and out as they desire. Adding the string, dangling pie plates and CD’s will not work for long. These pesky creatures get used to seeing and hearing these noises and learn quickly these do no harm so they just ignore them and do what they want.
Some people say to lay your cut hair around the garden to keep small animals out, but from my experience it didn’t seem to work much at all. Maybe I don’t smell like a dangerous person?
Some people say to run an extension cord and play a radio all night. Another thing to consider is making sure the garden is close enough to your house so you can keep an eye on it from time to time. The best advice I could give you, if you don’t have the option of an electric fence, is a good watch dog. It will roam your place at night and keep animals from finding their way in, most of the time.
Do you have a homestead fencing tip or idea? Please share it in the comments below.
Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack