Denis the llama’s new field is progressing well. Not too much left to do now.
We do all our fencing ourselves and at as a low a cost as we can. Fencing can be horrendously expensive. So you need to decide early on if you are going for looks or practicality. I would love swanky wooden post and rail fencing round my llama fields, but I’d have to sell the llamas to be able to afford it. So we have always used posts and netting, supplemented occasionally by electric fencing. I can’t remember the last time we turned an electric fence on though, to the honest. It’s not necessary with llamas and alpacas, and, because of their thick wool, isn’t very effective anyway! Our fencing may not win prizes for its appearance, but its functional and affordable.
The fencing for Denis’s field has been hard work. First we had to get all the 1.8m high piquets (posts) to the right place. The tractor wasn’t quite as useful here as we’d hoped so there was a lot of lugging by hand. Then a hole about a foot deep needed pickaxing for each post, and then the poles needed bashing into place. The postslammer makes this easier than using the sledgehammer, but it’s still very intensive labour. For Chris. I can hardly lift the postslammer off the ground, let alone get it on top of a tall post and whack it up and down! There was just one minor mishap when Chris lost his grip and the postslammer clunked him on the head. Fortunately he has a hard skull so no lasting damage done. At least, we don’t think so.
For the last two days we’ve been putting the wire grillage (netting) up. We use 1m high grillage. This is perfectly adequate for llamas. On the whole, camelids are great respecters of boundaries. They aren’t bothered about getting out – unlike goats, for example, whose sole intent in life is escaping from wherever you want them to be. The worst llamas might do is break a pole by leaning against it to scratch. It’s for this reason we’ve upgraded, but down-budgeted, to using rough chestnut piquets, rather than the smooth, rounded ones from hardware stores. Those simply aren’t strong enough. And also, being rounded, it’s hard to get the crampillons (u-shaped tacks) in properly.
Tensioning the grillage is the hardest thing. Chris has a handy tool for that. He got it off ebay and thinks it’s called a monkey climber, but those might be the tensioners that involve chain and look mega complicated. Anyway, here’s a picture of ours. It’s ingenious and incredibly efficient. You need to tension at the top and bottom of the grillage for the best end result.
Chris is pretty brilliant at fencing these days. He got a book, A Guide to Stock Fencing by Andy Radford, and has picked up a lot of tips from that. All our corners are properly braced these days.
So, the fence posts aren’t in a very straight line (my fault, I was principal pick-axer), and yes, they’re too big – we should have ordered 1.5 m ones, but Denis won’t mind and neither do we. He’ll just be happy to be outdoors again.