Saturday, April 19, 2008

Electric Fence is Done.

Well the electric horse fence is finally done. Another learning experience. I don't know if you've heard or not, but living in Washington, it can rain a lot. Shocking, I know. This is our first winter with the pasture land. When we looked at this property last summer, it was bone dry out there. Not so much now - pretty wet, but we're going to get the ponies out there for half an hour or so right now till they get use to the fresh grass (and the pasture drys out a bit).

Here's part 1 of the electric fence project.

Part 2

Part 3

So now that we're all caught up - the firs thing we needed to do here was install the ground system. The instructions call for 2 or 3 ground rods, so we went with three.

We are coming off the barn perpendicular and just putting them ten feet apart.

I took some wire from some left over Romex that I had from when the barn was re-wired and cut it into 11 foot lengths. Then I pounded the ground rod in most of the way with my t-post pounder, and the rest with a sledge hammer.

We bought the copper clamps they recommend to get a secure connection to the ground rod.

I had to fiddle with this a bit to get it secure. I did learn the hard way not to over tighten the clamp. I went right through the copper wire and severed the wire, then had to do the whole thing over. But it wouldn't be a Rancher Ron Project if I didn't mess up and have to start over a few times... that's kinda my trademark.

The Cowgirl got the fun job of burying the wire between the ground rods so the dogs don't chew on the wire. (And wouldn't you know it, finishing up this project gave birth to another project: pulling out all the blackberry bushes and old fence right here, and putting in new fence so the goats have more room to never ends!)

Then you attach the ground wire to the charger box, and another wire to the 1" tape. We used these little wing nut clamps - it just seemed like a better connection. I'm sure you could just wrap or weave the wire onto the tape and it would work just fine, but if there's an accessory to buy, I can't help myself. =)

That's it at the charging station. Now you have to put jumpers from your main hot wire to the other strands. Again, we used these wing nut clips to attach everything. It's super easy. By the way, when I was trouble shooting the system and found a few places where the connection wasn't the greatest, I put one of these wing nut connectors on there. They're about $3.00 or so each, so I didn't use them for every spot, just the ones that seemed to have a voltage flow problem.

Speaking of voltage, we ended up making 3 trips to the ranch store on our voltage tester. I bought the cheapest one first - and I think it would work fine if you're using the wire instead of the tape. It has one light that goes on if the fence is hot. Pretty basic. It does not work with the tape, because the little wires are embedded in the tape, and wouldn't make contact with the metal piece on the volt tester.

So we took it back and got the next step up. The Zareba Voltage Tester. It's about $16 at our store. It has a series of lights that are suppose to flash at 1000 volts through 9000 volts. I couldn't get this one to work right on our small system, so I took it back to the store.

This is the one I recommend - The Zareba DEFT1 Digital Voltage Tester. With the smaller charge stations, ours is 3 miles, it's only putting out 2,500 - 3,000 volts. The light bulb one just didn't work very well for me. This digital one works like a charm. It tells you exactly what the reading is. I was able to see exactly which sections of the fence were dropping in power.

I had one really stubborn section that I had to manually splice together instead of just tying a knot in the tape. You have to pull the little wires out of the tape one at a time, then twist them all together. That solved the low voltage problem for me.

The horses were pumped to be out in the pasture after a long time cooped up in their stall runs.

Check another big project off the list! Yes!

See you next time.

Rancher Ron