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Animals and water! They are the source of most of the problems in my life, I swear. I spend my time keeping one or other of them out of where they shouldn’t be, or in where they should be. Came home tonight to find the dog fence broken, and last night it was the electric fence in the horse paddock. I often think that my life would be so much simpler without them, but we can’t do without water, and I wouldn’t be without the animals. It’s so nice to come home at night to two dogs who are happy to see me, don’t ask anything more than to be fed and patted, and keep me company as much as they can.

I read recently a rather soppy saying that Golden Retrievers are the angels of the canine world, and although I do think it is soppy I can see the truth in it. I think Labradors qualify too though. They are always happy, have full confidence in the fact that they are the most loveable beings on earth, and never sulk or pout. Against that, they can be completely amoral, in that they don’t care about doing right or wrong, as they know they will always be forgiven anyway, so why bother? The Labrador creed is ‘Eat it first, ask questions after.’

I have two dogs, one a Golden Labrador, and the other a mongrel who I think is largely Flat Coated Retriever, but with some working dog mixed in, maybe Border Collie. They are both girls, one blonde (very), and the other black. The main disadvantage of this is we have both colours of dog hair. When we used to have two black dogs at least it was possible to wear black clothes without having them covered in noticeable dog hair all the time. Now if I wear black clothes the blonde hairs show up, and if I wear light coloured clothes then the black hairs show. Neutral grey is the only answer.

The black dog and her working dog ancestors are the reason for the dog fence, she is too prone to chasing things, and the normal fence designed for sheep and other livestock is no barrier to her. I have seen her run towards the fence, and jump straight through between the lines of wire with barely a hesitation. So we have a wireless fence, and she wears a collar with a receiver which gives her a small electric shock if she goes too close to the fence. There is debate about the humanity of these systems, but she’s a smart dog, and after a couple of times she doesn’t go close enough to get zapped. She knows exactly where she can and can’t go. It’s preferable in my view to having her get out on the road and maybe get hit by a car, or shot because she might go near somebody’s sheep.

I think I’m going to have to buy a fence tester to find the problem with the electric fence, the dog fence is easier to spot. I know from past experience that it is usually the joins that come apart, and knowing the weak spots it doesn’t usually take long to find which join. Then it’s just a matter of joining the wire up again. After a fair bit of trial and error I think just taping the two bare ends together with insulation tape is amongst the best and simplest methods. Most joiners give way under load, and are harder to re-join, but insulation tape is quick and easy. Plus I usually tape the join to the fence wire so it is easily visible for next time. I guess in an ideal world the fence would be so installed that there wasn’t a next time, but that is a little way down the track yet, and a fair way down my list of things to do, which gets longer instead of shorter. Probably most people are the same, at least I hope they are, except perhaps the super achievers.

I’ve been doing some research on electric fences, the livestock/horse variety, and found quite a bit of useful information. I now know that if you want to have more than about 500 metres of fence, you need to use high quality poly wire or tape, not the cheap versions, and for more than about 2000 metres you need to use galvanised wire. That’s harder to handle though, so although when I have everything set up it may be close to 2000 metres, I’m going to stick with poly wire and tape. I will set it up in two sections, only one needs to be turned on at a time, so it should be OK. There is a lot of guidance on a farm supplier’s website here, and also on a manufacturer’s site here.

That’s my weekend taken up anyway, getting the fence to work properly. Actually I should come clean and admit that I’m going to an editing workshop on Saturday, so I only have Sunday to do jobs around the property anyway.

I doubt this will be the last time I post on the subject of animals or water, or both, so watch this space!