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Creek Fence: Keeps Cows In, Lets Floodwaters Out

After eight floods in the past five years, the creek fence Hans Jess built is still holding strong.    

Earlier versions were not as durable. When an entire tree floated into the pasture on his Olin, Iowa, farm (taking the fence along with it), Jess went back to the drawing board to construct a suspended creek fence. Now when it floods, debris floats on by.  

turnbuckles and I-Beams

The vertical electric fence wires that are over water are partially encased in ½-inch PVC pipe. (The lowest portions hang below the PVC.) This system prevents entanglement of the vertical #9 wires and allows them to float as the water rises, maintaining their 16-inch spacing. The fence wires are suspended from ½-inch lightweight metal conduit, and the 16-inch spacing is maintained by additional pieces of twisted #9 wire.

Each of these sections is hung by chains clamped around 10-foot-long sections of 1¼-inch PVC conduit. This isolates the electric fence from the cable. Large flat washers are on each end of the 1¼-inch PVC to allow each pipe to individually rotate on the cable.  

Steel I-beams and anchor posts are cemented 4 feet deep on both sides of the creek. Passing through the I-beams is ½-inch steel cable, and there is a pulley at each end of the 110-foot span. “Turnbuckles on both sides help. If anything stretches or moves, I can tighten the fence to keep it above the water level,” says Jess.  

two separate circuits

When the water does come up, the creek portion of the electric fence can be disconnected since it’s on its own circuit.

“I can unhook it, and that leaves the electric fence on the rest of the land energized,” he says. The two circuits run from his farmstead, only about ¹∕8  mile from the creek fence. Jess says the most time-consuming part of this project was twisting the #9 wires. He estimates that he spent $250 total.  

a $2,500 winner

Jess is the next recipient of a $2,500 Firestone in-store credit offer for having his idea chosen as the Idea of the Month. Enter your idea here.

hans jess

Operation: With help from wife Lynn, Hans Jess grows corn and soybeans. A portion of his Olin, Iowa, farm is enrolled in CRP.  

Family: The Jesses have two daughters and five grandchildren. They all live in the area.  

Retired but part time: After his off-farm career as a technical specialist with an electrical distributor, Jess continues to farm and also drives a dump truck for his son-in-law’s excavating business when needed.  

German immigrant: “My parents moved here when I was a little boy. They bought the place where I farm now in the 1960s,” he says.

Hobbies: Jess enjoys fabricating improvements for his equipment in his farm shop.  

Email: hljfarm@netins.net

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