Tam Gets Bit by a Fence

The late Rhodry and Travvy both spent time around horse barns so they learned about electric fences early on. Rhodry in particular didn’t even trust rope lying on the ground: if he couldn’t detour around it, he’d clear it by at least two feet.

When the barn where I worked at the time was being re-roofed and we had to do some squeezing between gates and construction equipment, I managed to come in simultaneous contact with a live wire, a metal ladder, and a puddle. Don’t try this at home.

Tam Lin, however, is not a barn dog. He doesn’t run around loose either, but I still wanted him to get the basics about electric fences. The obvious place was the outer perimeter of the pastures at Misty Meadows horse farm, which we walk along several mornings a week. The fence comprises three bands of electrified tape, with the lowest a few inches above the ground, the highest at my chest level, and the middle about the height of a big dog’s nose. At one corner there’s an “electric fence” warning.

Trouble is, not once in the last almost two years has the electricity been on. I regularly run my finger along it: nothing. Tam brushes against it when sniffing the grass: nothing.

A few days ago another opportunity presented itself. Sheep, goats, and cattle have at various times been brought in to graze in the meadow adjacent to the horse farm. Electrified mobile fencing keeps the livestock in and curious dogs out. Last week three cows and seven calves showed up. (I’m curious about this. Cows occasionally have twins and, rarely, triplets, but single births are by far the most common. Did these three cows produce all seven calves?) The cattle were mostly snoozing, Tam was curious but not over-excited, so we walked along the outside of the fence.

Before long Tam yelped. Mission accomplished. He doesn’t seem to have been traumatized by the encounter. Since then he’s been fine walking past the fence; he just doesn’t get too close.

The cows and calves are still there. This morning one of the calves was outside the fence, so when I got home I called the farmer to report. No, I did not have my phone with me. 😉 Here are some cow pictures.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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