Before Kansas was even a state, fences were a great controversy.
Weíve all seen the movies were the cattlemen want to keep the prairie open for grazing while farmers, wanting to grow crops like wheat, put up fences to keep those cattle from ruining the crops.
Here we are 150 plus years later and, low and behold, the great controversy is a fence.
Luckily in this case nobody hired a William Bonney (Billy the Kid) to patrol the fence because on Tuesday the action north of Abilene got heated.
This story (see page 1) in fact goes back to the 1800s when Shirley Howardís grandmother settled the land.
Briefly, because our coverage of the story has been somewhat of an overkill, Howard has cattle. The owner on the other side has wheat. So whoís responsible for the fence?
The law is not that clear.
The old rule of letís meet in the middle and youíre responsible for everything to your right and Iím responsible for everything to my right does not apply.
Thereís also an issue of what type of fence should be used applies here: three rows of barbed wire or five? How high should it be? T-posts or hedge?
I think back to my youth and the subject of a fence never came to light. Mostly because on our homestead and on the farm that I worked on in junior high, there were never neighbors. You wanted to keep your cattle in an area, you built a fence. Your cattle, your fence. Makes sense?
But that might not be Kansas law. I say ďmightĒ because, like county Chairman LaVerne Myers, Iíve read the law four or more times but I still donít get it.
What I know is, that in a dispute over a fence the county commission is God. If two or more of the commissioners view the fence and rule, it is recorded with the registrar of deeds for life. It is not appealable.
Kansasí fence law was written back when the main transportation was a horse. and when the land on the other side of the fence was owned by your neighbor. C.L. Brown hadnít founded United Telephone yet. Probably the only time neighbors met was in church which was not a good time to fight over a fence.
Maybe itís time for the Kansas Legislature to do something productive for a change and take a hard look at the Kansas fence laws. (You know they have four months.)