Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Summer of Learning

This has been an educational summer for the Rickster. First the wheelbarrow lesson I mentioned a few weeks ago, and then this week I got “first hand’ lesson in basic electricity when I accidentally touched our electric fence.
The on/off switch is WAY too close to the hot lead of the charger so I’m writing this one off to a design flaw, and not mental defect on my part.
After all, I’m a fairly smart guy. I did very well in school. I graduated from Dora High School a year early, without getting a single paddling from our principal Mr. Gant. I must admit that Mr. Woodley, our social studies teacher, did wale on my backside like Chipper Jones in batting practice, for an unwise behavioral decision on my part.
But otherwise, I would have been considered fairly smart….but I digress.
As you may recall from an earlier story, I put up a solar powered electric fence around our chicken pen to keep Rocky Raccoon from munching on our chickens. Ever since the fence went up, we’ve lost no chickens.
Apparently Rocky learned about Ohms Law the first night I installed the fence because he climbed the pole on which the charger was mounted and when he tried to scoot over, he got into the business end of the electric fence. How do I know this?  There were raccoon droppings all over the charger where the fence literally shocked the crap out of him.
I first learned about electric fences when I was about twelve years old. We were playing football at Donald Robin’s house. It was late summer and during one of the breaks, my mouth was as dry as powder and when I managed to spit (to this day I’m not sure why we are compelled to spit) the saliva strung from my mouth.
This was unfortunate for me because we had been playing next to the pigpen which had a strand of electric fencing to keep the pigs inside, and when the string of saliva touched the live wire, I thought it had knocked every tooth in my head out. I tasted copper for days afterwards and that lesson has remained with me through the years.
Jilda had a brush with electric fences too. Once when we were covering football for The Community News, we went to shoot pictures at West Jefferson.
We had to park on a side road about a hundred yards from the field. I parked next to a pasture, got out and was unloading the cameras when I heard a ruckus from the other side of the car.
It was just after dark and the grass was wet with heavy dew. Jilda opened the car door and stepped straight into an electric cattle fence.  I think the songwriter must have come out at that particular moment, because she assembled creative combinations of cuss words that would have made sailor blush. It sounded odd coming from her dainty little mouth, but I didn’t point that out until much later.
Needless to say, no one ever had to tell her to be mindful of electric fences from that day on.
So, that brings us to this week. I went out early to feed our chickens and give them fresh water. When I reached for the fence on/off switch, I inadvertently touched the hot connector of the charger and it’s a miracle that I didn’t do MY business right there.
I fired off a letter to the manufacturer of the solar charger pointing out the obvious design flaw.
I can almost hear the engineer chuckle when he reads my letter and thinks to himself: “I bet he’ll be more careful the next time he turns the fence off.” 
He would be right. I learned about electric fences when I was young, but sometimes it takes a refresher course to bring that lesson home.


  1. Ornery says that a stream of pee will have a similar effect as the saliva lesson. :)

    His dad was having problems with the neighbor's dog getting into the garbage, so he wired the metal can to a fence charger. The dog hiked his leg to do his business. A ruckus ensued, but never again did that dog bother their garbage.

    Fun post, as always.


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