Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Three Miles of Fence

In late May I blogged about a new well on the farm and indicated it was part of a larger project.

That project is well underway, though not quite half complete.

We have embarked upon what is known as "best management practices" in our farming techniques. The reasons for this are many, but the biggest one is to fence the cattle out of the ponds and creeks that crisscross the farm property.

Why would we do this?

Because it is good for the environment, and because eventually the government is going to force us to. On our farm are several springs, which, along with springs and run-offs from neighboring farms, eventually feed into the Roanoke River. These springs turn into small streams, one of which is Carvin's Creek, which feeds Carvin's Cove, from which Roanoke City gets its water.

Carvin's Creek turns into Tinker Creek and a little ways down Tinker runs into the Roanoke River, making all of these little springs in this vicinity the headwaters for those creeks as well as feeders into the Roanoke River.

In plainer language, Roanoke City folks ultimately are drinking our cow pee. Sure, it's purified, but I won't drink city water. I know where it comes from!

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and similar organizations have been holding meetings about the water quality of all of these small streams. The goal is to fence livestock from all of these waters eventually. Right now the program is voluntary, and we are working hard to implement this project.

The first step was drilling the well.

The second step was running water lines. By the time my husband has run water lines for six cattle watering stations, he will have run more than 1.5 miles of water line.

This is a cattle watering station.

The cattle put their noses into these holes, which my husband demonstrated, and the water comes up. This is where they will get a drink. My husband says the cows smell the water.

This is the watering station as it looks from a distance.


This is an incomplete watering station. The line has been run from the well, which is about 1/3 of a mile away.
The other part of this project involves fencing.

Not only the ponds but also the little feeder streams going to the ponds have to be fenced off. The lines will be 30 feet back from the water sources.

New fencing going up around one of the ponds.

The fencing also takes in a few areas of marshland.

Additionally, the project calls for cross-fencing the cattle pastures into about five different areas. This will allow us to move the cattle from one field to the other and keep them better contained and allow the grass to grow back in areas where the cattle are not grazing. Right now the farm is only divided in half, so while we already do that it is not to that degree.

So far all of the work has been performed on the far side of the farm, which is about 3/4 of a mile from my house. Once the fencing and water stations are in place on that side, we will move the cattle from this side of the farm to that side, and the work will continue over here.

By the time all of the fencing has been put in place, it will add up to about three miles of new fence line.


  1. A lot of people are doing that around here. I feel sorry for the cows who don't have a pond where they can cool off in hot weather. (How do you fence deer and other wild critters out of the creeks, rivers, and ponds? And I don't even want to think about what fish are doing in that water!)

  2. But the water is all treated before humans drink it so what's the big deal if the cows pee in it? They have been peeing in it forever and as far as I know no one has died from Roanoke's tap water.

  3. holy moly, that is quite an undertaking!

  4. Wow! Digging a well, running it to 6 watering stations AND fencing- that's a lot of work. It's good you're able to get a head start and ease into these changes on your farm.

    I like your photos of the county fair. It's nice that they started this up again.

  5. Wow, that's quite an undertaking, but sounds like some environmentally sound practices.


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