How important is perimeter fencing? That depends. There are always ways to enter a property, but there are things you can do to make that access more difficult.
The biggest issue you’ll face is the size of your acreage. First, it’s much more expensive and time-consuming to fence in 100 acres than 20; second, it’s harder to patrol and watch over a larger area when someone finds a way inside.
Look around, out in the country, and take note of all the properties you see. Some will look beautiful, with a wide expanse of lawn leading up to the front door; others are so brush-covered that you can’t see past the mailbox.
You want yours to look like the second one.
It doesn’t have to look like that straight on up to your front door, of course. Police departments all over the country tell you to trim your landscaping so criminals have fewer places to hide—and if you live in the ‘burbs or the city, that can be very helpful.
But your first line of defense is your perimeter.
While driving from town out to our farm, I’ve noticed many places that would appear attractive to gangs or hordes or any desperate person: houses next to the road and the aforementioned lawns with a welcoming entrance and a clearly visible home.
Ours has a large barn, yes, but there’s no helping that—and many places you might be interested in purchasing do have homes near the gate; the reasoning is usually the cost of running utilities from the main power lines to the house, or even the well location. Fortunately, our barn is nearly 20 years old and has a badly rusted door—not the first choice, probably, of someone looking for something, even if they found their way back to our road.
But you certainly don’t have to make things easy for trespassers.
Dirty up that shiny new gate and the new fence posts; distress them a bit, as it were. Use a second-hand gate and second-hand barbed wire or fence panels. It doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t be, “pretty.” This is a working homestead, right? Not a vacation place?
Don’t get me wrong, everything should be in excellent working order—just not new and screaming dollars.
I also don’t recommend an electric fence. When SHTF and your power goes out, you’ll need at least one other generator to power that, depending on how many feet you installed.
Think natural barriers: poison ivy, sticker bushes, anything with thorns. Around here, you’re also likely to find dumping areas on your property, full of things that didn’t burn, like tires (good hiding places for snakes) or rusted wire. Put those things in heavy brush behind your fence lines. Even if someone cuts the fence, they’ll think twice or at least slow down when they hit the less-visible obstacles.
Of course, when you do regular checks, you’ll have be careful too . . .
Speaking of checks, you should inspect your fence lines at least weekly, and more often when SHTF. And you may have to take steps to remove the perpetrator, if constantly cut wire becomes an issue. No, I’m not advocating shooting anyone—it’s likely just kids come to fish your pond—but you should probably be in contact with law enforcement.
When SHTF comes, all bets are off; likely law enforcement will have better things to do, or even be nonexistent. But those kids going fishing are now taking food from your family . . .
Once someone is on your property, uninvited, you need to be prepared. You need a plan in case this happens, especially if you own a target property, e.g., a fancy entrance or one with easy access and visibility.
What will you do? How will you handle it?
I can’t say what I’d do, exactly—it depends on many circumstances. But I do know this:
They can’t stay.
The sooner they leave, the better.
And if you walk your property on a regular basis, you’ll know who and what and why long before they become entrenched. I don’t care if they’re on the opposite end of your forty acres and you can’t see or hear them, they’re using YOUR resources because they didn’t stock up on and have their own.
Your job is not to provide for everyone, or anyone. Your job is your family.