Learning new etiquette | TheFencePost.com

Learning new etiquette

When you move to the country, or a small town, you will discover new cultures, vocabularies, and educational opportunities. As part of the culture, you will discover rules of etiquette that you will need to know, even though they may not apply anywhere else.

Taking responsibility for your own actions is one of the keys to country living. Although there may not be leash laws, your dogs cannot run lose all over the countryside. They need to be taught boundaries. (Some people do too.) The law, as well as the “Code of the West” says, if your dog is on someone’s property and the dog is not welcome, the landowner should inform the dog’s owner one time. If it happens again, the landowner may shoot the dog. Just as your small yard in town was private property, farms and ranches are private. Without permission you cannot trespass. Just because it’s in the wide-open spaces, does not mean it is open to just anyone. This applies to hunters also.

By the same token, state laws vary on fences and you can look up the laws. For those of us who are not lawyers, the comprehensive site for each state is: nationalaglawcenter.org. These interesting codified laws are stated so individuals can learn what types of fences are called for and who the responsible parties are, among other details. If you are in a housing development, you may have rules within your agreement that addresses fencing.

Kansas is a “fence in” state, which means livestock owners must keep their livestock fenced in. On the opposite side, South Dakota and Colorado are “fence out” states, which means if the neighbor has livestock that you don’t want on your property, it is your responsibility to put up a fence to keep them off your land. Sometimes livestock escape their pastures. If they do so when you are not there to chase them from your yard or garden, and you have no fence, the repercussions may be bad feelings between neighbors.

Asking farmers and ranchers how many acres they have or how many cattle they own is like someone asking you how much money you have in the bank. In other words, it’s not polite to ask. If you don’t know the etiquette, and you ask, they might answer vaguely as in, “We are about average for this area.” That type of response tells you that the owner does not want to specifically discuss his holdings, and that you have crossed the line into being nosy. If, however, the farmer or rancher wishes to tell the number of acres or the number of cattle, that is his or her prerogative.

Think of the move as an opportunity to learn, not simply a relocation. Things are different here, that’s why we like it. It is not just the geographical location. Remember, you came here because you didn’t like it there. Enjoy adjusting and learning.


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