Fences Make Good Neighbours

I have been thinking a lot about boundaries lately. Mostly because we have a new piece of land that borders on a neighbour to the southwest and our new full time neighbour to the north.  Boundaries are never really an issue until they become one and I suspect this holds just as true for property boundaries as for personal boundaries. In the spirit of being respectful of boundaries, we have decided to discover ours.

There is an old saying about fences making good neighbours, so this seemed like a logical first step in discovering our boundaries. We have had no need for fences on our land since we have lived here because we do not raise animals, but in years gone by people put up fences to demarcate their land whether they were raising animals or not. We have discovered pieces of the old fence over the years and yesterday decided to follow one of these lines to the end point which separates our land from the land next door.


About seventy-five to a hundred years ago the fencer on our land used the trees growing in the woods as fence posts and tacked the wire to all the trees which lined up (approximately) with the boundary. As trees will do, they grew and as they grew the wire became embedded in the centre of the tree. To find our boundary we had to look for old pieces of wire coming out of large trees like this one, or look for it in dead or fallen trees on the ground.

As it turns out, our boundary is not at all where we thought it was.  Can’t help but wondering if this is the same problem with personal boundaries. Humm….

We marked all of the trees along this one line.


When we got to the uppermost point, we discovered two things. Our neighbour to the north has become as interested in boundaries as we are. He has marked all the trees on our new tract of land that borders his property with the same orange ribbons. He is making hiking/ski trails and doesn’t want to be cutting trees on any land that is not his. (He’s a great neighbour!)  We also came across a wildlife camera belonging to another neighbour who has been hunting on our land for years. It’s strange to be this far back in the woods and see so many signs of human activity.


Our boundary marking/discovering has been far from an exact science, but it sure does feel good to have a clearer idea of just what land we are supposed to be stewarding. And, more importantly, what land is not ours to be making decisions about!

I have come to understand that fences do make good neighbours, something our ancestors were very clear about. And we have all the old fence wire to prove it.


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