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An Electric Shock from an Electric Fence - Funny or Not Funny?
After years and years of being around electric fences, yes, I have received my fair share of unwanted shocks. And, the term “It’s not funny” has been heard and verbalized in varying strength of language many times. Getting shocked really isn’t funny, but then again - IT IS. Being an electric fence salesman and working over past 40 years, I have also heard a lot of great stories from customers about being on the receiving end of those shocking stories. I guess that since I am supposed to know what I am doing around electric fences I should probably never get shocked – right? Wrong, I get my fair share of them and it usually hurts. I think that some people may have a higher tolerance for the pain that is associated with an electric shock than others. Myself – I have a low tolerance for it. For sure it hurts me.
Not all, but most of my shocks in working with my own fences have been incurred when working with it when it’s raining or wet.
Early on in my fencing career we were installing a fence across a reservoir to keep Rhinoceros from wandering onto neighbouring property. You cannot simply herd Rhino with a horse or on foot – they do tend to get cantankerous and bolshie. The customer wanted them to have access to the reservoir but not cross over to the neighbour. The solution was an electric fence tape suspended on floats across the water. The 40mm fence tape would be visible and should provide the necessary shock.
Once it was all installed, I entered the water to check all was well when my dear brother decided it would be “funny” to switch it on. I was completely immersed in the finest earthing material when 8000 volts hit me. NOT FUNNY.
An occasion I did not witness but elicited great mirth among our staff was when one person had to walk home from a drink-up and decided to take a short cut across a fence. Using a dead, dry branch - an excellent insulator, he pushed the wires down but in his inebriated state the branch was held at an angle just as he had his leg over. The wire slid up and contacted his hand giving him a shock. He released the branch causing the wire to contact his family jewels with obvious results.
A few years ago, I read of a staff member helping to pull up an old temporary fence. It had been used for a while before the operator got round to building a proper three strand fence. It was a single strand of 2.5mm electric fencing wire about 2 meters inside of the new fence. It was on 12mm posts.
He wanted to rewind the wire on a spinning jenny for reuse. It was a nice damp spring day. They had pulled all the clips off the posts and pulled the posts, so the wire was just lying on the ground. The fun job of rewinding the wire on the spinning jenny was given to the assistant, while the operator attended to some other important things nearby. He was crouching down over the jenny on his knees in wet soil. Well, during the winding process the abandoned wire got flipped over into the new fence. This new fence had around ten thousand volts running through it. About the time some squealing like a wounded pig was heard, a series of sharp snapping sounds was heard.
The operator could see what had happened and was grinning from ear to ear and trying hard not to vocally laugh out loud. Pure fire was reportedly shooting out of the eyes and for the life of me I couldn’t keep that smiley smirk off my face. It is reported that the assistant said “it’s not funny”…..it wasn’t, but it was.
On another occasion we had a 40 tonne rig arrive to collect material. The driver decided he needed to attend to the call of nature and wandered off out of view. After hearing a cry of pain we found out he had urinated on to the electric fence.
One thing I’ve noticed is you don’t always know you have been shocked. I paid a visit to farmer friend who had a security fence with electrified out-riggers on. I went up to talk to him placing my hand on the fence when I found myself on the ground. Not wanting to look an idiot and not realising what had caused the fall, I stood up and did the same with the same result. This time I decided to step back and have a look. I had held the security fence without seeing the wire on the outrigger which contacted my forehead giving me a shock.
It’s funny to me, how when I do get a shock: the first thing I usually do is look around to see if anyone is watching, even if I’m five miles from a road, in a ditch on my back side. After an unexpected shock I usually say something that is not recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary. Then I usually chuckle and answer myself, by saying “That’s not funny.”
Footrot Flats by Murray Bell.