Thursday, October 9, 2008

Coyote mystery solved

Many thanks to Melanie who responded to my post on goats. She mentioned the difficulty of keeping goats fenced in, and then I responded that our Shetland sheep have been just as difficult to keep fenced in, because they don't respect the electric fence. At about 5 a.m. yesterday morning, I woke up and instantly had an epiphany! I realized why after five years of no coyote problems, we have been inundated with coyotes coming into our pastures for the past year. Okay, all you Shetland lovers out there, now don't start throwing cyber-tomatoes at me, but it's the sheeps' fault.

In my response to Melanie, I mentioned that the sheep only respect the electric fence for about three months after they're sheared. Then their wool insulates them from the shock. Well, as they push themselves through the wires, a few fibers get pulled off and wrap around the wire. After several years of this, there are some places in the fence that are completely wrapped in wool! It looks like felt-coated wire. That explains why Katherine heard the coyotes testing the fence when she stayed in the pasture all night. They'd try to go through, get shocked, run down a bit, and try to get through in another spot. They knew that the fence only shocked them in some places!

Now the challenge is getting all that felted wool off the wires! Pulling it off would take hours. My husband suggested using a torch to burn it off, but I've heard that wool is naturally fire retardant. I'm afraid that trying to slice it along the wire would result in someone cutting off a finger. In some places, it's so thick, I don't think that would work anyway. Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Use the blow torch- wool is naturally fire retardant, but it can't stand up to that much fire. Easiest way to get it off!

melanie said...

The torch should work...wool will eventually burn, or at least it will become so brittle that you could go along later and pull it off without too much effort.

Glad I inadvertently helped with the problem! My sheep also stop respecting the fence once the wool has grown, so I keep their faces and heads clipped close, but I only have five compared to your much more sizable flock!


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