We run a cattle farm in Northern Maine. Our neck of the woods is frequented by many wild critters – big and small. Of all our wildlife visitors, one stands out as arguably the most majestic and massive. The MOOSE. I love and respect wildlife, don’t get me wrong. BUT….for any farmer that uses fences and would like to see those fences upright and not laying on the ground, stretched out across your field, the moose can sure put a wrinkle in your plans.
See, the uniqueness, so-to-speak, of moose is that they will plow through the electric fence. They can jump them and we have witnessed such events, but more times than not, they plow right through them. Deer will jump our electric fences and bears won’t even touch them.
Every year in May and June, like clock-work, we start getting visits from our neighborhood moose. And as sure as the sun rises in the morning and sets in evening, we will find fence and gate damage galore. Now, this damage can be on a small scale, like a downed fence in an area that the cattle are not in. The fence damage will take some time, tools and supplies to repair but the repair work can wait a day or two. Not a huge rush but definitely one to make sure is fixed before rotating cattle into.
The other scenario, is when that moose breaks a fence and/gate in the pasture in which our cattle are grazing. THAT is almost certainly a guaranteed ticket for our cattle to take a trip, whether across the potato fields or to our neighbors front yard or just take a stroll up and down the road. The whole grass is greener on the other side scenario!
So, I find myself early one morning (before 7am), getting a call from my neighbor. We usually text, so calling was unusual, especially this early in the morning. I cautiously answer the phone and hear “Sara, your cows are in my driveway.” Oh, puke…..Goodness gracious, say it isn’t so!!!! The herd was SUPPOSE to be in our back pasture, nowhere near our neighbors driveway. Of course, as it always seems to happen when trouble strikes, Jer was gone, out in the great wild, blissfully unaware…(love you, Jer). I lucked out that day, for many reasons but first, my wonderful mama was visiting from Montana. She was able to watch the kids while I ran out the front door, threw a hay bale (and a sled to pull it in) into the back of the pickup and raced down the driveway. I wouldn’t see my mom and the kids again for another 4 hours.
As I was driving, I knew, I just KNEW, that this was all because of a moose. I drove up the hill to our neighbors, and sure enough, there they were……the whole herd, just strolling around the yard, having a ball. I pull into our neighbors driveway, jump out of the truck and throw the hay bale onto the sled and start calling “hey mama’s. They look at me curiously but not really motivated. And why would they be motivated. Our neighbors yards were plush full of nice, green grass.
I was overwhelmed. I ain’t gonna lie. I was one person, on foot, trying to lure a herd of 30+ cattle (yes, I know this is not a ton of animals but it sure feels like a lot when they are lose!) across the road and across several pastures, to the pasture they escaped from. What a nightmare. Just as my mother was an angel that day, our neighbors were as well. Our neighbors are good people – plain and simple. Over the years, they have become part of our Friend Family and for that, we are so fortunate. Working with them, I was finally able to -HOURS LATER – get every animal back into the right pasture. And sure enough, I discovered a damaged fence and gate, that was most certainly the latest work of our resident moose. The herd decided to go through that open “door”, figuring it must be fate, and enjoy a nice, leisurely early-morning stroll through the fields and down the road.
Moose breaks a gate, and the cows think it is fate!
On a side note, we spent years trying all the different tricks to make our fences more visible to wildlife, especially at nighttime. It made no difference. At a certain point, we accepted defeat and instead, focused on how we could improve our fences to help decrease the degree of damage. Jer came up with a brilliant idea to start replacing damaged and broken wood fence posts with conduit pipe instead. Brilliant! Our fences lines now have a mix of wood posts and gray conduit pipe posts. Conduit pipe has more give to it than a wooden post and as a moose stretches out that wire, a conduit pipe will not snap or break as quickly as a wooden post. Also, conduit pipe will not rot! We will continue to replace, as needed, our wood fence posts with conduit pipe.