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More About Fences
I have written about fences before. I’m on record as disliking them, unless they’re absolutely necessary, to contain livestock, for instance. I don’t dislike wood fences nearly as much as I dislike wire. Wire fences bother me. Several years ago I wrote a column for another publication in which I mentioned Harry Bath’s house on Big Owl Road, with its chain-link fence, lawn and rain birds and wondered why anyone would construct such a thing in the middle of a pine forest. It turned out he just liked lawns. And in 1989 I wrote in the WIND about fences in general.
The other day I was driving down Big Owl Road when I suddenly found myself frightening a full grown doe. She was between me and another fence. This one was constructed a few years ago, ostensibly to keep horses and dogs in, rather than to keep wildlife out. It is really three fences: wood and two kinds of steel mesh, and it presents a formidable barrier. The doe tried to escape through it, dashing herself against it twice and then a third time. So I stopped and she moved around behind me, crossed the road and disappeared into the unfenced forest on the other side, which is part of the property now owned by two well known wildlife photographers.
Once again I was puzzled by the thinking that goes into the construction of such a fence. The vast majority of those who live here have a genuine concern for all who inhabit the place, including the animals. But some still insist on fences which thwart the movement of deer and elk, especially as they go back and forth in search of food and water. I suppose it must have something to do with the urge to demonstrate ownership or perhaps it provides a sense of exclusivity, or a sense of security. Whatever the reasons, some members of our community make at least part of their living building fences, and the Bath house wasn’t the only one on Big Owl Road with a fence and a lawn. I suppose if I campaigned against fences I would be accused of taking the bread out of people’s mouths and thwarting what is apparently a basic urge to grow grass.
I’m happy to report, however, that things may be changing, at least in a small way. The Bath house was sold, and the Osborne’s have taken down the fence and the lawn is reverting to the forest floor. The property with the three kinds of fencing has been sold and its new owners say they are going to take down the metal fences. It will be hard work and unless they do it themselves it will be expensive, but apparently they feel it’s worth it.
It would be a very nice thing if more people acknowledged in this way that we share this land with the creatures who were here first.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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