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The Fence Post

There's an Emu Out Back

February 19, 2019 | by Joe Morrell

 

emu

These grand, imposing, flightless birds are probably as tall or taller than you. Some folks consider them pets, some consider them products. Whichever, we'll start with a brief description, then recommend the right fence, followed by  explaining this bird's unique nesting habits.  

How big is big?  

Obviously, if you're choosing an emu as a pet, your taste is somewhat extravagant and you no doubt realize that an appropriate space for this very large bird should be one of your first concerns. Here are some considerations:

  • They range from 5 to 6½ feet tall
  • weighing up to 130 lbs
  • They can run up to 30 miles per hour
  • Imagine these big birds traveling hundreds of miles for food and water in the Australian outback. They need space and for healthy birds, you must provide an opportunity for exercise. A long pen is recommended so they can run--at least ¼ acre to 2 acres in size. 
  • Audible--their grunts and squawks can be heard up to 2 miles away. You might want to think about your neighbors as you plan your emu enclave.
  • Emus are especially docile toward humans especially if they are handled from birth. If an emu feels threatened, its claws can do real damage. Other small animals in the yard, such as chickens, can be trampled.
  • They like baths and enjoy an occasional dip. In a pinch, a child's paddling pool can suffice.

2" x 4' fence with square knots drawing

Now, about that fence...

Your emu will benefit from a  2" x 4" woven, non-climbable mesh fence that is five to six feet high. It is attractive, has a long lifetime, and makes a safe and secure fence for emus. The strong 10, 12½ or 14 gauge steel wires (depending on style) are treated for maximum rust and corrosion protection. The heavier wires used on the top and bottom edges give this fence additional strength. Stiff "square" knots, formed by a third piece of wire woven around each intersection, hold the horizontal and vertical wires securely. The mesh offers flexibility, allowing for its construction on uneven terrain. The woven knots are rust-resistant and will not hold water. This fence features knots that are smooth, which protect both animals and people from injury. 

The Broody Male

Females are larger than males and can exhibit aggressive behavior, especially during breeding season. They lay their eggs and wander off, leaving the males in charge of the nursery. The males build their nests in a shallow hole in the ground using grasses, leaves, and sticks. After the female lays her eggs, the male steps in. He becomes broody and takes control, remaining on the nest for 8 weeks until the emu chicks hatch.

Generally, the males may seem friendlier, being the nest tenders--yet much more defensive of the newly hatched chicks than of the eggs which can be removed from the nest without much upset. The male doesn't leave the nest, his sole activity (no eating, drinking or even defecating!) is to turn the eggs a couple of times a day and understandably, during this stretch of time, he loses a third of his body weight. Once hatched, they will remain with their father up to a year and a half and are ready for breeding between two and three years of age.

While the female usually abandons this domestic scene, she goes on to mate with other males and will produce up to three clutches (between 5 and 15 eggs in a season.)  In her wandering, the female may deposit eggs in the nests of males with whom she hasn't bred. The large eggs weigh about a pound, are teal in color, and measure about 3 inches wide and 5 inches long. Thinking culinarily, a single egg contains the equivalent of 10-12 chicken eggs with a richness similar to duck eggs.

Assorted Emu Facts

  • Emus are in the family of originally southern hemisphere flightless birds known as ratites which include ostriches, kiwis, rheas, and the cassowary.  
  • They are omnivores. 
  • Their diet consists of nuts, seeds, fruit, bark, stems, insects, small reptiles, amphibians, and small animals.
  • One mature emu contains three gallons of oil, which is prized for its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • They spend a good amount of their days pecking at things, quite indiscriminately; so an environment that provides foraging possibilities, with plenty of shrubs, dirt (they extract minerals), pebbles (used for digestion), and insects, will keep them occupied, reduce boredom and may decrease pecking of the fence.
  • Pens must be kept clear of any trash, wires, nails, etc, to avoid trips to the vet.
  • Pacing can be a sign of stress due to being confined.
  • In the bush of Australia, the usual predators of emus are dingos, the native wild dogs. Eagles can also attack from above. The eggs and smaller chicks are sought by a number of animals and reptiles, but the ever-vigilant male rarely allows opportunity.
  • Life expectancy of an emu is 10 to 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity.

Australian coat of arms with kangaroo and emu

The Australian Coat of Arms

 

Note: if you're interested in keeping ostriches, fence-wise, much of what applies to emus applies to them. And know that a 2" x 4" woven, non-climbable mesh fence is also used for:

• Garden fence

• Horse paddock fence

• Parks and public areas 

• Dog kennels and containment

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Topics: galvanized after, GAW, emu and ostrich fence

Understanding Wire Gauges Used In Welded & Woven Wire Mesh & Fence

January 15, 2019 | by Duncan Page

micrometer measures wire gauges

 

Wire Gauge

  • What is it?
  • What does it mean?
  • How is it used to describe wire?

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines wire gauge as any of various systems consisting of a series of standard sizes used in describing the diameter of wire.

It all starts with heavy coils of large diameter wire called rod made in a rolling mill. The rod is then shipped to a wire manufacturing mill. To make the wire used in wire fence and mesh, single strands are "drawn" through a series of increasingly smaller dies or plates and reduced to a specific gauge/diameter. The gauge is determined by the wire's final use - single strand wire, welded wire mesh or woven wire fence. Heating of the wire is not required in the drawing process.

Wire Gauges Through Time

There have been several different gauge designations since this process was introduced. Numbers have been used to designate wire diameter since 1735. They originally referred to the number of draws used in the process. The first draw was called 1 gauge, the second 2 gauge, the third 3 gauge, on down to the final draw of the thinnest wire being made. This is why thick wires have a lower gauge number than thin wires. 9 gauge wire is thicker than 14 gauge because it requires fewer "draws" than 14 gauge.

The Birmingham Wire Gauge, also known as the Stubs Iron Wire Gauge, was originally developed in early 19th-century England as a means of standardizing gauge sizes. It has been used in a medical setting (needles) since the early 20th century. In 1855, Brown and Sharpe established a formula-based progression of 39 steps - from 1 gauge through 40 gauge. This is now known as the American Wire Gauge and is used extensively in the United States.

Common Wire Gauges

The following values show in inches the most common gauges of wires used in welded and woven wire mesh and fence:

  •  8.5 gauge - 0.155 inch
  •  9 gauge - 0.1483 inch
  • 10.5 gauge - 0.128 inch
  • 11 gauge - 0.1205 inch
  • 12.5 gauge - 0.099 inch
  • 14 gauge - 0.080 inch
  • 16 gauge - 0.0625 inch
  • 18 gauge - 0.0475 inch
  • 20 gauge - 0.0348 inch
  • 21 gauge - 0.0317 inch
  • 23 gauge - 0.0258 inch
  • 27 gauge - 0.0173 inch

There are many different combinations of wire gauge and mesh size manufactured. You can select the right product for the requirements of your project.

 

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Topics: wire gauges

Guarding Your Pets from Wildlife Aggressors

January 14, 2019 | by Joe Morrell

Coyotes                  Raccoons               Skunks               Mountain Lions               Woodchucks

Gophers

 

Protect Your Vulnerable Loved Ones

coyote


As more undeveloped land is taken for house lots and commercial areas, the natural habitat for wildlife is increasingly restricted. Sightings of animals such as coyotes and deer are more frequent. The need for ways to protect pets from potentially aggressive wildlife increases. Here are some strategies in avoiding dangerous interactions with a variety of animals, your pets, and you.

Coyotes

One of the best ways to keep pets safe is to build a wire fence. To protect against coyotes, it is best to use a six-foot height. You can either bury 12 inches in the ground or bend it so it lays on top of the ground to the outside of the enclosure as an apron. This will discourage digging.

There are many choices of welded wire fencing and woven wire fencing meshes available:

Welded wire fencing - Galvanized Before Weld (GBW), Galvanized After Weld (GAW) and Vinyl Coated (VC) 

  • 14 gauge, 1" x 2" and 2" x 4" mesh
  • 12.5 gauge, 2" x 4" mesh
Woven wire fencing
 
Notes on Coyotes
 
coyote portrait
 
Generally content to stay out of sight, a hungry coyote may make an appearance. They are resilient and their numbers are increasing in some areas despite efforts to control them. Closer at hand than one realizes, they create dens in forested areas, in parks (yes, city parks too) and greenbelts. Coyote attacks are usually linked to being fed by humans and those rare attacks involve children six and younger for the most part. They will move on once they realize there are no vittles to tempt them. They are natural predators of dogs, feral cats, and outdoor cats sometimes; however, they are more interested in rodents, berries, grasses, and your vegetable garden. 
  • Naturally, avoiding contact is best
  • Dawn and dusk are times when they roam--avoid walking a dog at these times (easier said than done)
  • Your dog must be kept on a leash and not far from you
  • Dogs are vulnerable to diseases that coyotes harbor--be sure your dogs' vaccinations are updated
  • If a coyote comes too close, appear larger by standing on something (a rock or stump) and act in a threatening way, appearing as a danger, not prey
  • Use noisemaking equipment to ward off a coyote that shows up repeatedly
 

 

Raccoons 

raccoon on porch swingcute

Electric Fence

Because Raccoons are excellent climbers and diggers, an electric fence is one method for controlling them. A couple of lines of electric fence at a distance of about 8 inches above ground and another line about 8 inches away from the fence is good. Burying the fence 6 inches underground and at a width of a foot will also help. However, there are no guarantees with raccoons, they are agile and clever.

Regular Fence

It's possible to use regular wire fencing, but it must be thick enough so they can't shred it (as they would with something like chicken wire. Louis Page can advise.) Making sure that the fence is far enough from what you want to protect is crucial as they can reach in and do damage. At the top, it is necessary to bend the fencing outward--away from the pen.

Notes on Raccoons

Widespread across North America, when provoked raccoons are vicious. Raccoons aren't looking for a fight, but if cornered and threatened they will eviscerate an animal. Their teeth and claws are little daggers. 

  • never feed a raccoon--this is a major reason why they lose their fear of humans and come closer than they should
  • keep pet food indoors
  • make sure that the area around a barbecue is kept clean
  • trash containers lids should be secure
  • pet doors must be raccoon-proof
  • cats are more prone to diseases that raccoons carry--keep your cat's vaccinations up to date
  • don't chase a raccoon away, it may be threatened and invite attack

Not so cute

angry raccoon

 

Skunks

skunk

A fence to ward off skunks

Skunks are not gifted climbers and that's good news for us. There are methods to secure a garden area as skunks dig around plants in search for grubs. To control these diggers, apron fencing, two feet wide, must be partially buried a couple of inches around the circumference of the area you want to protect and at a height of four to five feet. This will discourage dogs and coyotes as well. 

Mercifully, skunks find humans and their pets an aberration, so they limit their foraging time to the night. Lights and activity usually repel them, so contact is rare. The spraying happens when a skunk perceives its backed into a corner or surprised. Interestingly, the spraying is used as a last resort and cannot be employed again for three or four days--I know, cold comfort, if you have been sprayed.

  • do not attempt to scare off a skunk--back away
  • a dog must be completely controlled for a skunk to back down
  • in bad situations, saucers of ammonia may work as a repellent to skunks and many wild animals
  • if the worst happens, have nearby: Dawn dishwashing soap, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and old towels (to be discarded)

------------------------------------------------------------

Clean up brush and other debris around your property to keep animals from building nests. Seal off holes and cracks in your house. Look around your barn for entry sites and fill these in.  Make your space as inhospitable to wildlife as possible. Orphaned wild animals should be left alone--their parents are often not too far off and will return to them.

------------------------------------------------------------ 

Mountain Lions

mountain lion

Tall Fencing Required

  • Generally, pets are safe in the yard during the day unless there have been reports of a sighting; however, nighttime is another story--this is the time when mountain lions are most active and pets should remain indoors.
  • For the protection of your livestock, tall fencing is required. Mountain lions are powerful: they can jump up to 15 feet and can leap a distance of 40 feet.

The name "mountain lion" includes cougars, pumas, and panthers. The reference to lions is only related to their color. Cougar is the most common name in North America. Largely found in the western areas of North America, there are some populations east of the Mississippi that are small. There is a subspecies in Florida, called the Florida Panther, which is highly endangered.

Deer are a mainstay of mountain lions and not attracting deer to your property is an important safeguard. 

Woodchucks

Woodchuck

Small dogs that dig (good example: terriers) can be vulnerable to a woodchuck that is sensing its territory is being invaded. Also, dogs that are protective of their space can be more aggressive to invaders and prompt an altercation. Woodchucks have razor-sharp teeth and can become hostile when cornered; though admittedly this being rare, animals are unpredictable. Cats are generally not threatened. What is most likely threatened on your property is your garden.

Deterring a Woodchuck from Burrowing and Climbing

The clever woodchuck moves below ground of course, and above.

  • A 6-foot fence is required as a minimum, with 5-foot posts.
  • Chicken wire should be dug in 10 inches or more below ground level.
  • Leave a foot of chicken wire unattached from the post at the top and bend it outwards. This prevents the woodchuck from getting a good grip for climbing over the fence.

Another possibility is:

  • Place 3 feet of chicken wire flat on the ground around the perimeter of the garden.
  • After which, secure a 4 to 6-foot fence vertically 6 inches in from the chicken wire edge which leave 2 1/2 feet of chicken wire on the outside on the ground.
  • At the top, leave 12 inches of the chicken wire bent outwards away from the garden, unsecured.
  • The woodchuck will not be able to dig under the vertical fence because of the 3 feet of chicken wire surrounding the garden.

woodchuck fencing drawing

Image from Mass Audubon Society.org

As the Old Farmer's Almanac advises: The best woodchuck deterrent is a fence.

Gophers 

gopher

Gophers are highly destructive animals. They live in burrows and like to eat many of the plants that people have in their yards and gardens. They are voracious--eating half their body weight each day. If a family of gophers takes up residence in your yard, you could quickly find your lawn taken over by gopher mounds and tunnels. It is easy enough to kill or capture gophers once they arrive, but it would be greatly preferable to keep them out in the first place.

Fencing is a very effective tool for keeping gophers out of your yard. What kind of wire mesh do you need? To keep the gophers out, choose wire mesh fencing with no more than ½-inch openings. Gophers are burrowing animals, so the fence should extend at least 18 inches below the surface. Because it will be highly susceptible to corrosion, choose galvanized steel or vinyl coated fence wire.  If your yard is already populated by gophers, you will need to use one of the other methods to get rid of the gophers once you install the fence; otherwise, you could end up with a gopher sanctuary. Electric fencing is another option for restraining gophers.

The Bad News on Gophers

Gophers can cause a number of problems. The aesthetic damage to your landscaping is just the beginning. Gophers also eat garden plants like carrots, lettuce, and radishes. Gophers also carry dangerous diseases like rabies. They have sharp teeth, and like any other animal, they can be dangerous when they feel threatened. Worst of all, gophers make holes in your yard; these holes are a trip hazard for anybody, but especially for children and elderly individuals. Before you know it, a child could have a sprained ankle and an older person could end up with a broken ankle, wrist or hip. Then there are the diseases--

  • Rabies
  • Plague and hantavirus
  • Monkey Pox, the most common--which exhibits flu symptoms--aches, swollen glands, fatigue and small pustules on the skin
Their tunnels can cause soil erosion by diverting irrigation water. During a gopher's digging activity, lawn sprinkler systems and plastic water lines can be gnawed on and damaged. 
  • A burrow system can cover an area of 200 to 2,000 square feet.
  • Food storage and nesting areas can be as deep as six feet.
  • Feeding burrows with a 3" diameter are most often 6" to 12" below ground. 

gopher holes 

 

 

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Topics: woven wire, welded wire

5 Unique Styles of Fence

November 14, 2018 | by Duncan Page

1. Wattle Fence

An Historic Perspective to a Garden Fence

Wattle fences may be one of the oldest types of fencing still in use today. They were used in England long before medieval times. Traditionally the fences are built from straight, slender, flexible suckers or saplings of the willow tree up to 1-1/2" diameter. After the leaves are stripped, the ”withies” are woven between upright wood posts. Willow is an ideal wood because it is pliable and resists splintering. Other species, such as alder, can also be used.

A Variety of Benefits and Uses

Wattle fences are very strong and long-lasting. Willow posts often take root in the ground creating a living fence, perfect for containing animals and enclosing gardens and orchards. And the density of the fence makes an ideal windbreak.

wattle fence

The rustic, handwoven appearance of a wattle fence adds an attractive defining touch to any yard, garden or landscape. Some possible uses:

  • arches
  • towers
  • trellises
  • plant supports
  • garden accents
  • hurdles or fence panels
  • attractive garden borders to line walkways

Wattle construction is a great way to use trimmings for fence building materials. Instead of burning or destroying branches, use them in a creative way to beautify and add interest to your landscaping. Even though willow is the ideal wood, any type of wood can be used.

2. Lace Fence

Having grown up in a neighborhood where the lawns flowed into one another, when some new folks moved in and put up a stark chain link fence around the perimeter of their property, the neighbors were collectively horrified. Mercifully, they grew ivy on it. 

However, a new type of fencing has been introduced by the Demakersvan design studio in Holland. Called lace fence, it is a combination of chain link fabric and the art of lace making.

lace fence

The design possibilities - from floral themes to contemporary patterns and designs - are infinite. And you can submit your own designs. With this opportunity to customize each job, every lace fence is unique. Chain link fencing, a basic functional fence, can become a decorative and attractive work of art. Imagine coming up with a theme related to the property or space you are defining.

Lace Fence can be woven from both 11 and 12-1/2 gauge wires, either galvanized or vinyl coated. The wire mesh is securely clamped to a tubular frame. There are many different types of locations - both interior and exterior - where Lace Fence is currently in use, including but not limited to:

  • barrier fences in parks and other public areas
  • interior partitions in banks, restaurants, hotels and gyms
  • railing safety mesh on stairways, decks and balconies
  • decorative panels on the facades of commercial buildings
  • safety fences on apartment buildings
  • museum displays

Photograph of Lace Fence at The Design Center at Philadelphia University is used by permission. See this blog article to see more pictures of this unique fencing. 

3. Worm Fence  

Definition:

A fence, zigzag in plan, made of rails resting across one another at an angle - according to the Random House Dictionary.

This style of fencing is also known as Snake Fence, ZigZag Fence and Battlefield Fence - the latter term due to its presence on many Civil War battlefields (see video below). Worm Fence (also known as Virginia Worm fence) has been used in America since the 1600's. Easy to build, split wood rails are stacked on each other to create the fence. The ends of the rails alternate, creating the openings. For stability of the stacked rails, each section of fence is angled from the previous one, giving the appearance of a worm or snake.

worm fence at Gettysburg

sheep-may-safely-graze-1395605-640x480

No Post Holes, Rocky Terrain bonus

No vertical posts are required to build the fence. This both eliminates the need to dig post holes and makes the fence easy to install - a particular advantage in rocky terrain. Sometimes a pair of crossed posts would be used at the junction point of each section. This would allow the fence to be closer to a straight line. With a plentiful supply of wood and ease of construction, it is easy to understand why worm fence was the most common type of fence used in America by the late 1800's. It is gaining popularity today for use as a rustic fence that will add to the appearance of a piece of property and it is used in many outdoor historical museums.

     

4. Living Snow Fence 

Strong winter winds can cause dangerous driving conditions. Not only does blowing snow dramatically reduce visibility but also treacherous drifts can accumulate across roadways and other open unprotected areas.

A Natural Windbreak

Several states have successful programs in place using living snow fence. The Iowa DOT has been developing and improving theirs for over 40 years. Living snow fencing is a natural barrier created by planting a combination of shrubs, trees, and grasses that act as a windbreak. In Iowa, rows are five feet apart and shrubs are set three feet apart within the row. Plantings are arranged so that the gaps in one row are filled by the plants in the next row.  As the speed of the wind is disrupted and decreased, snow settles among and downwind from the plantings. Research shows that drifts will form downwind 10 to 12 times the height of the trees (100 to 120 feet downwind from a 10 tree). A concentrated and closely spaced placement of trees and shrubs results in shorter and deeper drifts. When positioned properly, living snow fences can greatly reduce the amount of plowing needed to keep roads open for travel. Winter travel is safer.

living snow fence  in winterliving snow fence summe

Environmental and Aesthetic Advantages of Snow Fences

There are benefits in addition to safety when living snow fencing is used:

  • Highway beautification is enhanced with native species of plants.
  • Environmental stewardship is promoted.
  • Trees, shrubs and grasses are excellent wildlife habitat all year.
  • Living snow fences slow and reduce erosion.
  • When measured during winter months the temperature of the pavement surface in areas protected by living snow fence were higher than the surface temperature in unprotected areas. In areas with severe cold, this greatly increases the effectiveness of chemicals used to prevent icing.
  • It is no longer necessary to install and remove wood or plastic snow fence. 

5. Papercrete Fence

Ever heard of a fence made out of papercrete? What exactly is papercrete?

This video will show you how to make a 4' by 8' section of fencing - real DIY stuff, folks. A recipe follows--

Papercrete Ingredients--

  • 30 pounds of concrete
  • 18 pounds of joint compound
  • 1 pound of boric acid
  • 90 pounds of newspapers
  • Just add water and you're good to go!

But would you really want a papercrete fence around your house?

 

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Topics: lace fence, worm fence, living fence, Wire Coating, vinyl coated

Philadelphia Zoo's Revolution

November 5, 2018 | by Joe Morrell

 This month our spotlight shines on the Philadelphia Zoo

tiger

Philadelphia Zoo, America's first zoo and host to 1.2 million annual visitors now features the internationally ground-breaking and very captivating Zoo 360.

Zoo 360 is a campus-wide network of exploration trails--for animals!  Featuring elevated trails surrounded with see-through hexagonal wire mesh that allow animals to roam above, across, and around the park. Animals are able to explore, circle through and around visitors, who can see them through tunnels of galvanized mesh, creating more interest and exercise for the animals and revolutionizing the experience for visitors. This allows animals to be observed in action and doing more of what they would do in the wild.  Rather than existing in stationary exhibits--animals can wander, be more active, are less bored, which: 

  • enhances their quality of life
  • lets them travel longer distances
  • allows them to explore a variety of environments
  • links habitats, where appropriate

Some examples of these roving exhibits:

  • Treetop Trail--smaller primates can visibly walk or swing through tops of trees.                                                                                                                                                monkey 
  • Gorilla Treeway--higher places to observe and explore with an extensive area to move about.                                                                                                                gorilla 
  • Big Cat Crossing--tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, pumas, and others are able to prowl about and get some exercise.                                                          leopard 
  • Meerkat Maze--an underground world where Meerkats can do what they do--running, digging, popping their heads out of their burrows and observing the scene above.                                                                                                                                                                             meerkat  

Here is a video that will give you a look at the latest developments at the Philadelphia Zoo.

 

And these smart folks at the zoo know that stainless steel mesh resists rust, corrosion, and stands up to harsh chemicals. They also use rust resistant vinyl coated mesh which resists destructive elements such as acid rain and guards against abrasion while the black coating works as an invisibility cloak, creating an undistracted view--much better than green and not as prone to glare as the galvanized grey. And the happy answer here is less maintenance because the galvanization is reinforced with highly bonded PVC which extends the life of the fence indefinitely. 

Now, thinking about the animals' experience...

Inside those walls of mesh--an animal's environment can be enhanced through the provision of:

  • trees with various levels for perching
  • vines
  • a variety of ground, soil and rock modifications
  • nesting and den possibilities
  • programs of positive reinforcement that stimulate cognitive abilities
  • familiar and unfamiliar scents
  • recordings of sounds that would be heard in the wild
  • food that is hidden, buried or scattered so that an effort must be made to attain it as in the wild
  • toys that would be of particular interest to a given species
  • programs where you can sponsor a specific animal and also make contributions for toys etc.                           

Progress is being made and the Philadelphia Zoo is evidence of that. We here at Louis Page applaud all this innovation and fine work!

 

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Topics: wire mesh, cages, zoo, Wire Mesh for Zoos, vinyl coated, hex mesh

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