Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happiness is a warm cattle panel

The farmer who leases our alfalfa pays part of the bill with cash, and the other with trade.  Earlier this spring he delivered thirty bales of straw to my garden, and a few weeks ago he brought out ten cattle panels.  Actually, some of them were cattle panels, some were sheep, and some were hog panels.  In other words, some were five feet tall, some four, and others three.  Give or take a few inches.

Cattle panels are wonderfully versatile things.  They are sturdy enough to hold up to livestock abuse, hence their name, and are quick and easy to install as temporary or permanent fencing.  But I did not get these beauties for the goats.  Oh no, no, no.

These panels are strong indeed, yet they are also flexible enough that with a bit of determination, strength, and coordination they can be bent to suit various needs.  Right at the moment, my needs are garden-related.  More specifically, bean-related.

It's kinda hard to see in this picture, but in the center are our new pole bean supports.  Hubby took four of the cattle panels and bent them in half.  He then drove in a fence post slanty-wise into the soil and secured the panel to the post with steel wire. Each 16-foot-long panel make an 8-foot-tall double trellis.  It's a good thing I'm pretty tall myself, otherwise come August those upper beans would be pretty hard to reach.

Here's another panel, bent into a peaked archway entrance for the garden.  The boys and I planted scarlet runner beans at the base.  I can't wait to walk through it this summer, when it's covered with brilliant red blossoms.  (And then later in the year, when the bean pods are hanging down from the top and banging me in the forehead.)

So, next time you pass by a farm auction, stop by and let your imagination wander.  One farmer's scrap metal is another gardener's delight!


Mama Pea said...

I lust after cattle panels. (Who but a gardener would say that? Okay, anyone trying to corral animals would, too.) You've used them in such clever ways. Hubby must be eating his organically grown oatmeal to do such a good job of bending them though. They are stout! The archway into your garden is going to be gorgeous. Don't forget to post pictures of that!

Erin said...

Very nice! I have a roll of 5 ft wire fencing that I use all over the place, love the stuff!

Mr. H. said...

Love that archway, can't wait to see the beans growing up it.:)

Karen said...

That archway is to die for, Jo!! That is totally something I would do, but with clematis or morning glories! I can't wait to walk through it! By the way, have you heard of any farmers wanting to strip down their barns??? We found a guy on Craig's list selling barn boards, but would prefer to get them from your neck of the woods, either for free (!) or to buy them. I want to know where they come from!!!! What a great excuse to come and visit you guys!@

Rhonda Gales said...

Stopping by from A Diva's Garden. So glad I found your blog. I'm a beginner gardener, and I've been reading about gardeners using cattle panels for beans. I had no idea what they were. Now I know, lol. I love the arch. Can't wait to see the beans growing over them. Looks like I'm going to get lots of ideas from you.

John Mark said...

I use the hog panels with 4x4 squares, still 4 x 16. I'm using them as lattice inserted into wood and galvanized tin fencing. When I lived in San Antonio, Gardenwille used to sell tomato cages very similar to yours, except the edge squares were cut in half and rounded into a circle and each panels circles were brought together with a 18 guage wire going down the center of the side circles to hold together.cattle panels I bought for of them and have had them for years and are still in great shape. They fold into one piece for storage.

Anonymous said...

I favor using the woven wire also. For the reasons Bill gives, and also because it has more "give." I have used a woven

wire round pen for many years, and still do. Five or six years ago we built a second round pen panels with cattle panels in

a different field. It looked very spiffy. The first time we used it was at a clinic, where an out-of-control novice dog ran

one of the sheep into a panel. Its neck broke and it had to be put down (fortunately, one of the clinic attendees was a

vet). If that sheep had been run into wire fencing I'm sure the damage would have been minimal