Mind the Fence, Shut the Gate, and Respect the Animals That Bring You Food…

While I grew up in urban West Palm Beach, my dad leased the hunting rights to some rural ranch land west of Clewiston, Florida. During my childhood, we spent weekends at the “hunting camp”. Although I knew little about cattle, I learned at a young age something called gate etiquette.

Gate etiquette is really a very simple concept – If you find a gate open, you can leave it open – If you find a gate closed, then you must re-shut it after you pass through it. Gate etiquette ensures that cattle remain in the pastures that they are meant to be in and do not stray somewhere that they do not belong. In addition to taking care with gates, we also made sure that we did not disturb or harm the fences in between pastures.

My brother and I, many many years ago out at the

My brother and I, many many years ago out at the “hunting camp”…

Our family was both thankful for the ability to hunt on the ranch land, and also for the cattle that grazed there. In addition to growing beef, the presence of the bovines played an important role in ecosystem which improved the health of the land and the quality of the hunting. My dad was a stickler for rules, and I know that the rancher appreciated our diligence.

When I moved to Nebraska in 1997 and went to work on the farm, I learned to truly appreciate gate etiquette. It, along with good fence maintenance, ensures the safety of both our cattle and the community members that drive the roads near our farm. I cannot stress how truly important this is. I also cannot stress how truly frustrating it is when people from outside of the farm do not respect fence and gate etiquette.

The fence prevents accidents and ensures safety -- please don't tamper with it!

The fence prevents accidents and ensures safety — please don’t tamper with it!

Unfortunately, in the last 18 years, I have seen all of the following things occur on our farm. As a result, we have lost cattle (a few that were never recovered) who became a liability for everyone as they wandered and strayed across roads where they might cause accidents.

  • Poachers cutting down fence in order to illegally trespass and hunt on our property.
  • Careless off farm repairman who are hired to come to the farm to fix a problem but open gates and forget to close them.
  • Irresponsible electrical company workers who take down fence along property lines without asking in order to do maintenance on power lines, and then not rebuilding the fence properly when their work is complete.

A properly closed gate protects both the animals and the people that travel the roads near farms…

One of the worst feelings in the world is a phone call from the sheriff’s office in the middle of the night informing you that cattle are on the highway. Regardless of whether they are your cattle or the neighbor’s, it leads to a sleepless night.

The truly sad part of this story is that all of this can be prevented if everyone took the time to care.

Minding the fence, shutting the gate, and respecting the animals that bring food to your table is everyone’s business. It keeps our animals on the farm where they are safe, and off of the roads where they endanger not only themselves but also innocent road travelers. Please take the time to do your part.

Together we are responsible providers: to our animals, our land, and to each other.


Filed under Animal Welfare

4 responses to “Mind the Fence, Shut the Gate, and Respect the Animals That Bring You Food…

  1. suzyq10

    How true this is. Here in beautiful British Columbia the biggest issue I have with gates on the ranch is the public wanting to trespass to “enjoy the view” or hunt or tear up the ground with their dirt bikes, ATVs and 4x4s. Gates mean very little and are left open causing huge problems with cattle being where they should not be. Unfortunately it adds another daily chore to ensure that gates in the spring grazing pastures are closed.

  2. Very cool article and blog in general! I would be honored if you would let me feature this post on http://www.forfarmandranchwomen.com. It is a brand new website conglomerating all women bloggers and advocates for agriculture in hopes of connecting with each other and reaching our non-ag friends to educate them and bring our industry to life for them.

    If you are interested, please check it out. Or join us on facebook at For Farm and Ranch Women: Memoirs. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind a direct email back! JessieJohnson16750@gmail.com. I’m very excited to grow this content, and my own blogging just isn’t going to cut the mustard 🙂

    If you’re interested, I will maintain formatting and syntax as best as I can but will condense images and sidebars. Once formatted and put on the website, there will be a link to you and your blog. I will also feature it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with your choice of hashtags including #forfarmandranchwomen.

    Thanks for considering helping connect more women and reach broader audiences.

  3. It is hard when you have things set up a way to protect everyone and then someone doesn’t think and acts carelessly and puts other’s and animals at risk. A sad truth in this world. It happens on small farms and big ones like yours. I remember when I was younger my parents would get mad because people would come on our land and hunt illegally, forget to close gates, damage fences, or open the cabin on my dads land, stay illegally, and not close it back up and they would have to fix the damage. If we still used the old adage “treat others the way you want to be treated (or want your property treated)” then we would have a better world :).

  4. midwest

    such a timely post!! it’s bull-turning-out time here in the Midwest and if the neighbor’s fences were good there would be no problems…..serious issues here…sigh

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