Guest Post: Tales from the Homestead – Fences

by Steve in AZ

“Good fences make great neighbors!”   My Grandpa George (God rest his soul) used to say that often, and I never really paid it much mind.  I used to chalk it up as the ramblings of an old man.  After all, I was young and knew everything – right?


Sadly, the good Lord took him before I was wise enough to appreciate the knowledge that he had stored in his head.  However, my Grandma Mary (God rest her soul) hung on to be 92 – the tough old bird that she was – and I was able to learn much from her.


Both sets of my grandparents hailed form Ireland during World War 1.  George and Mary both coming from fine Irish farm stock, settled in Waco, TX, and began to farm there.  I remember their stories about how everyone laughed at the Doc when he bought the first car in town – because the only paved road was the town’s main street, or that “only Law men and Bad men wore pistols ‘cause good folks either had a rifle or shotgun”, and that it was lean and hard times.


Now then, Grandpa had always been partial to rabbit for supper, and always kept a large rabbit hutch.   Also, unless you had a good reason for it, most folks then and there didn’t run fences on the property.  You knew where your property lines were, and you minded that.  At least most folks did…


So, the story as Grandma told it was that Grandpa woke up one morning to the dogs barking, and went out with his shotgun expecting to find some varmints that needed to be dealt with.  What he found was that someone had been into the hutch, and made off with a few of the hares!


Well now, he was fit to be tied!  This was at the tail end of the (First) Great Depression, and things were mighty tight, so the loss of a few hares was a big deal!


The only folks around were the neighbors to the side – the same side of the property as the hutch was on, and as I mentioned before, there wern’t no fence!  Grandma remembers him spending the next several days working to fix that.  He relocated the hutch, and transplanted some of “them thorny bushes”, and strung up some of that “damned barbed wire ”.


Folks being folks – got to talking about it, and Grandma remembers the sheriff asking Grandpa about why he was running fence-line after church one morning.  Grandpa replied that he had heard that Good Fences Make Great Neighbors!


Getting to my point and what brought this story to mind was an episode that happened to me yesterday.  My property is rectangle in shape, borders BLM land on two sides, and while I have a neighbor –yes, just one, it’s a fair stretch to his house.  So, like my Grandpa, I had no need to run a fence line.



Now then, there is a dry creek bed that runs across my land, and it runs all the way to town, and a big sandy creek bed is something that the off-road crowd seems to think is fun to ride/drive in.  I can hear them from time to time, and don’t begrudge them their fun.


But, yesterday these two boys were out riding along, came onto my land, and were startled to find a grumpy old man wearing a pistol!  I expect that they were rightly scared, because they turned around and boogied of.


This morning I called the nursery, and ordered a flat of thorny mesquite trees that I intend to plant along my property line.  If you have never had mesquites, they are an amazing tree!  They survive wild fires, being ripped out of the ground in wind storms, and all manner of drought!  If left to grow wild – they grow out like a shrub!


Did I mention that they have thorns?  Allot.  And they hurt.  Allot.


I started to thinkin’, that if I lived in the city still, that I might want to plant roses for that same effect.   I know that most cities don’t allow fences in the front yard, but I have never heard of city not allowing roses.  Placed close together and allowed to grow thick, they would be an imposing obstacle!  Hell, even ran along the two sides of your property would funnel traffic to the front and rear fields of view.


If times keep getting worse, some neighbors that might want to help themselves to what is yours might not want to try climb into a window that had roses growing in front of it.  Or, if planted along your fence line they would have to climb through a fence line of thorns.  I’d expect that they would look for easier pickings.


Like Grandpa used to say, Good Fences Make Great Neighbors!


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1 Comment

  1. Very good post. I agree that having fences up keeps honest people honest. If you can slow people down from getting into your property it gives you time to defend what is yours.

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