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Gardening with your English Setters

A cautionary tale in a 77 part series ;)

My family and I (this is Lynn, by the way) have recently experienced a little upheaval... my husband took a job in the far off land of Tennessee in May of 2022 (Knoxville area). Needless to say, the ENTIRE year for 2022 was beyond crazy for us! While he moved down to start his new position, the kids, dogs, goats, ducks, cats and I were still at the farm waiting for it to sell. Long story short, not much showing or fieldwork was able to be all! But, around Christmas I was able to move the entire crew down south and start "homesteading" again. This move has given us much stress, but lots of joy, too!

This place is an entirely different set up than we had in Minnesota! Firstly, we are not on a hobby farm. The absolutely nutty housing market was not allowing for much in the way of a hobby farm. So, we settled on a "starter home" with about an acre of land, in a country "neighborhood". I'm sure many of you can relate, as most of you probably do not have a lot of land to work with. Hopefully, this blog about gardening (in a 77-part series) will be helpful to you!

First things first

First and foremost, we HAD to fence in the yard. Honey was ticked off that we moved. She does not like change and just wanted to go back to her home. Pop and Dil couldn't care less as long as there were squirrels and other things to hunt. The fact that Honey did not have a yard to sun herself in was absolutely appalling to her. Needless to say, she was acting vindictive (if you'd like more details, send me a message)! LOL So fence companies were called, and in about 3 weeks (3 weeks too long...) we had a beautiful new fence! (see pictures below) And, it was bigger than the last one they had. We ended up having to fence in the front part of our property (not ideal), instead of the back, because our backyard is literally a hill. So that's a new challenge for us, along with a few other things...

Fence placement ... more than you care to think about

Now, you might be wondering a) why would you only want the back yard fenced in? and b) why use a physical fence at all? Well, here's the short of it. When the back is only fenced in it limits what the girls can see and therefore, bark at. Also, I don't like people seeing my animals and knowing what and how many I have (yes, there are weirdos out there who will steal your dogs). Which leads right into why to fence the yard in at all... well, there are MANY reasons.

First, not only does it keep your dog in, but it keeps other things out. Skunks, racoons, other dogs, ducks, people...the list is long, and I don't want them in my yard with the dogs. Some people will argue that an underground fence is a good option and I'm here to tell you it is not. Especially not for a hunting breed. If you think a little zap is going to deter your setter from busting through the line to get to some sort of prey, you are mistaking. They are hunters, they get intense, and will do whatever it takes to get to something if they want it bad enough. Now, not all dogs have the same personality, but I'd rather not risk it.

Additionally, if your dog does take the zap and then tries to return...the return zap might be enough to keep her out of her yard. Not to mention the fact that these types of fence do NOTHING to protect your dog from other things invading their yard. Remember, this is their home territory, where they should feel safe and protected.

So many options!

Physical fences can add a lot of beauty and equity to your home. I mean, think of all the gardens you can have running along it! (More on that in later blogs.) Finding a really beautiful fence design does not have to be hard (check out Pinterest!). Here are a few things I like to include in mine- a woodsy element, large swinging gates with lockable clasps, wiring on the inside of the fence (woven wire is best), because you'd be amazed at what size hole your dog can squeeze through (ahem, Harper...).

Typically I like my fences to be around 4.5 feet tall, if not a privacy fence (those are usually 6 feet). If you have to deal with snow pack (ha! we no longer do!) then you might want something closer to 5 or 6 feet. Privacy fences are ideal especially if your neighborhood is tighter packed than ours is. We are also surrounded by woods on 3 sides, which makes it pretty private already.

Well, there you have it. Some basic fence setting up-ness. I have never had a dog that climbs (knock on wood) or jumps over fences, but Poppy does like to see how high she can go some days. The 4.5 ft fence we have now typically keeps her pretty grounded though. On a side note, if you do use wire on the inside of the fence, make sure that it is securely attached to the wooden structure (see picture). Many a toe has gotten caught when jumping up and down against a fence.

I'll bet you can't wait until the next "Gardening with English Setters" blog post! Until then!

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