Hogs, Fences, Tractors and Me

Y’all know I’ve had a hog problem around here lately. Those mean, nasty buggars have been tearing up my place pretty bad.

I figured they were coming through the cattle fence on the one side, bordering that 1000 acre spread to the north. So, I decided I’d solve my problem using a little technology. I ran a strand of electric-fence wire a foot off the ground on that fence line and headed over to Tractor Supply to get me an electric fence charger, like my old grandpa used to have.

At first, I figured one of the little ones would do just fine. The wire is only 650 feet long, so one of those small, one-acre jobs should easily do the trick. But then I saw it: It was solar charged, with 2, 12 volt marine batteries to power it, 10 kilovolts of power, about the size of a small block chevy engine. “The Farm Protector” the label proudly proclaimed. The label also advertised it had a range of 26 friggin miles! If a 1 acre unit would do the trick, obviously this beauty would not only work, but would work so well the the folks over at Channel 12 would send a reporter out and publish a series on it’s glorius success!

So I took that bad-boy home, with dreamy visions of bacon sizzilin’ along my fence line.

Installation wasn’t bad, it only took 4 days for me to drive two 8 foot copper rods into the ground at each end. Everyone knows that ground rods are the key. More, deeper grounds mean better conductivity. Better conductivity means more transmissive shock. More shock means… well, you get the idea. Using that manual fence post driver was the only drawback. After the first rod, I seriously considered renting a pnuematic post-hole driver, but it was $1000/day, and Sylvia was having none of it.

Anyway, on day five, with sore shoulders, arms and numb hands, I excitedly wired up ‘Ol Sparky (the nick-name I gave this god-sent unit), and waited for the sound of surprised, shocked, and terrified hogs.


Three months I waited. Nothing. My dissappointment was palpable.

Soon after this, me and the mule (my pet name for my tractor) got to mowing. Running along the fence line I saw that the the wire was broken, laying on the ground and in the way. Irratated, and cursing my rotten luck, I thought back and remembered switching off ‘Ol Sparky before setting off mowing, because I knew I was going to be close to the fence line and didn’t want any electrical accidents.

So I hopped down, grabbed the wire to toss it out of the way and very quickly realized ‘Ol Sparky was very much alive and kickin’ (so to speak)!

It was as if I opened a portal into the Matrix. Time stood still. Unable to move, I noticed everything around me. The color of the grass. The smell of the wind. The sharp clarity of the wire. The steady drumming of the tractor motor. Then I noticed that my private parts were trying to recede into my chest. My ears were curling downward, and my limbs were numb. I could feel every piston ignition from the tractor, as if ‘Ol Sparky and the tractor were having an epic battle for control of my nervous system. My brain, only operating between electrical impulses (by this time I lost the ability to determine if they were tractor-based or fence-based), decided it was time to purge my internal storage systems.

In the Matrix, there was plenty of time to count, so I counted. While reaction was impossible, counting was childs-play. Frozen in place/time I counted: BAM! Impulse. Poop-pee. Pause… BAM! Impulse. Poop-pee. Pause… What seemed like minutes between were only mere micro-seconds outside of the Matrix. BAM! Impulse. Poop-pee. Pause…

After the purge, I remember thinking how unexpected this was. Bam! Impulse. Pause… I mused at the fact that my grandpa had one of those international fence charger thingies that only had like 9 volts or whatever and only tickeled when it shocked you. Just enough to make you let it go. BAM! Impulse. Pause… This was definitely no tickle. I had the wire in my hand, palm down, and all I needed to do was open my hand and drop the wire. But the wire had forbidden it. Try as I might, I couldn’t unclench my hand. How could this be after the great purge, I mused. Unclench, you pudgey little fingers! BAM! Impulse. Pause…

The dual 8 foot ground rods were now fine-tuned to my brains electrical signals, echoing them back to me in the form of BAM! Impulse. Pause…

I began to wonder if the tractor was somehow amplifying the signals. Perhaps I was grounded through the ignition system? Perhaps the signal was traveling from the wire, through me, through the ground rod, and finally into the tractor? BAM! Impulse. Pause… I noticed that the tractor engine had settled into a sort of lopey-idle, like a high-powered dragster engine. I began to wonder if the idle was being affected. BAM! Impulse. Pause… I began to pray for the motor to die.

My lower bits covered in nasty, my privates in my chest, and my ears on my neck I became convinced: The epic battle between fence and tractor had been won and lost. The tractor was submissive to the fence, and obeying it’s commands. They had combined forces in the Matrix to defeat me. BAM! Impulse, Pause… I remember praying: Please, Dear God, stop the tractor. Let it run out of gas, or the idle be too rough or… BAM! Impulse. Pause… Then I remembered that the label on ‘Ol Sparky sparky had a picture on it. I tried to remember what it was, and in came to me. BAM! Impulse, Pause… It was the black silouette of a cow, laying on its back next to a fence, feet in the air. It was also on fire. Strange, I hadn’t noticed this before. Just as I drew the connection BAM! Impulse. Pause…

I honestly don’t know how I dropped the wire. When I came to I saw two spots of dead grass where my feet were, and a long ropy stretch of dead grass under the wire. The tractor had stopped, and the gauges showed the battery was dead. I assumed I had some sort of siezure and that caused me to drop the wire. Whatever, I didn’t care. I went back to the house, disconnected ‘Ol Sparky, and put it on craigslist. Free to good Home. Buyer Beware.

The tractor is still out there. By the fence. I don’t trust it anymore.