Installing new sheep fencing in Germany¿s Middle Rhine River tourist area


I'll never forget the April 2012 adventures with German fence making while visiting the popular St. Goar region along the Middle Rhine River of Germany. It's an area that depends heavily upon the tourist trade to survive.


Many tourists take advantage of cruises along the winding Rhine River for observing the spectacular scenery of small villages, castles nestled along mountain peaks, and the many vineyards growing along the steep hillsides. Not only did my wife, Virginia and I have an opportunity to cruise the romantic Rhine between Rüdesheim and St. Goar, but we personally resided eight days at the Hartmut Höh (Hay) historical combination farm house and barn in nearby Holzfeld.


Hartmut and I are seventh cousins, descending from a common ancestor who resided in the village of Gerhardsbrunn, approximately one and one-half hours driving distance away between Landstuhl and Zweibrücken in southwestern Rhineland-Pfalz. When Hartmut's son, 17-year-old Jonathan Höh first visited our Somerset home six weeks during the summer of 2011, it didn't take long until he fit into our household like a special son.  


When the opportunity arose to visit his father's village during Jonathan's 2012 Easter vacation from school, we eagerly took advantage of the opportunity. Hartmut and his partner, Angela quickly made us feel at home.


Not only did they offer great sightseeing adventures to different communities along the Rhine River, but Hartmut used his 1966 Deutz tractor and a homemade cart that fits behind to provide rides above Holzfeld to scenic locations where from rugged mountain peaks spectacular views are available above the busy Rhine River. 


Quite a few opportunities arose to walk with family members or to ride the cart behind the tractor to enjoy those scenic views. Later Hartmut and Angela placed Virginia, Jonathan, his sister Hannah, and me onto a cruise ship at Rüdesheim to enjoy a two-hour cruise back to St. Goar. What a thrilling opportunity to admire castles, vineyards, and the interesting stadts or towns sprawling along Father Rhine!


Family time at Hartmut Höh's farmhouse quickly bonded him, Angela and his two children into a close relationship with us. Not only did we assist in preparing great German cuisine for our meals, but we hiked with burlap bags filled with hay and dried bread to feed three expectant female sheep. Hartmut obtained some adjoining pasture land to use for grazing the sheep.  


During our week's stay, between sightseeing journeys, we had the pleasure of spending time together at that pasture, with Hartmut and Angela relying upon Jonathan and me for assistance in installing perimeter woven wire fencing to keep the sheep in the pasture and to keep predators out. Although Hartmut and Angela both work together in an office setting at Wiesbaden for the German government, they enjoy kicking back at home with remodeling jobs to improve their older home and barn.  


They found building the woven fencing around the sheep pasture to be challenging along with stress relieving. It was their first attempt at making fencing but amazingly their thoughtful planning and physical labor produced a good installation job.


Both had taken vacation to help entertain us so it was only natural that Virginia enjoyed helping Hannah prepare some meals, while Jonathan and I assisted with installation of the fence. It's been approximately 50 years since I last assisted my father in installing barbed wire fencing around our Berlin (Pennsylvania) area cattle fields.  


Just like then, I depended upon commands from my German-father to render assistance. While working in the field, it provided prime family time to bond together while also enjoying breathtaking views of their small town and the spectacular Rhine River valley gorge, where an abundance of blossoming apple and cherry trees provided a kaleidoscope of spring beauty.


Before the week ended, the fencing was completed. From that day forward, I will always admire woven-wire fencing in a different way. Woven wiring — the traditional type of fencing for sheep — consists of horizontal lines of smooth wire held apart by vertical wires called "stays."  


The distance of spacing between horizontal line wires may vary from as close as one and one-half inches at the bottom for small animals, to as wide as nine inches at the top for large animals. In general the spacing between wires gets wider as the fence gets taller. Stay wires should be spaced six inches apart for small animals and 12 inches for large animals.  


I considered it a privilege to assist in making fence above the Rhine River gorge while enjoying the friendship of the special German family, who went out of their way to insure that our Germany vacation was filled with lasting memories. Four babies were born to Hartmut's sheep after we had returned to Pennsylvania and their mothers were enjoying the luscious new grass in their new grazing pasture. 






Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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