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One of the several jobs we’ve worked on this last winter into spring is the mass removal of kilometre after kilometre after kilometre of barbed wire fence.

Barbed wire is so ubiquitous on farmland; it’s the easy cheap put up to enclose cattle.

But two of my farmer pet hates come from the lazy use of this clawed drawn metal.

First off, the wilful stamping of barbed wire into the trunks of living trees.

When I come across this it makes me so furious and equally sad at the little regard given to an old living entity whose years far outweigh our own.

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My second pet hate is finding three, if not four, layers of successional barbed wired disappearing back into undergrowth on a field boundary.
When you discover this it means that at the time of fence replacement, say every 15 years, the farmer at that point did not for whatever reason remove the old fence and just placed a new fence in front of it.
It has meant when it’s come to us clearing those lines, the whole hedge has been inter-laced with barbed wire and we’ve had to hack back and back again and again to find all the strands.
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By us removing just some of the length of barbed wired on this farm you do question how many hundreds of thousands of miles of the stuff are stamped across the British countryside?
But maybe a better question to ask would be: why bother to remove it?
Well the simple answer is sadly demonstrated in this image below.
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Photo library image.

We have a fairly healthy population of roe deer.
When I find them happily munching at our newly planted trees I dearly curse them for all I’m worth but I wouldn’t wish the above agonising death on any living soul.
Additionally, it’s not just deer that are victims to the barbs, owls and birds of prey are susceptible to being caught too.
If you’ve ever handled this type of wire you’ll easily understand why.
Those clusters of short metal spikes are just so mean, easily catching and very snagging.

Photo library image.

But obviously by taking down this wire our hedges cease to become stock proof so as we cleared we have called in the services of professional fencer Chris Smallwood and his team from Launceston.
Chris used universal stock fencing with a smooth top wire meaning no longer could anything get snagged.
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However, the reason farmers used barbed wire is because domestic animals love to rub and itch on fences so the barbs stop them. We got round this problem by installing an insulated electric wire around the top.
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It’s powered by “Johnny 5; our homemade portable, solar powered electric fencing unit.
Tim made this invention from a car battery, a solar panel, a Gallagher fencing unit and an old ladies shopping trolley.
It works a treat even on the steepest of hills.
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Folks of a certain age group may remember the 1986 film ‘Short Circuit’ to which our fencing unit resembles, hence the name.
By using this portable unit it means only the paddock surrounding the flock is live, saving on energy and meaning anything touching any of the other fences on the farm doesn’t get a shock.
“No dissassemble Johnny Number Five!”

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