Know Your History: What Were the Texas Fence Cutting Wars?

Due to the scarcity of rocks and lumber, Texas’s landscape in the Old West was vast and uninterrupted by fencing of any kind. However, in 1883, a clash between stockmen occurred that came to be known as the Texas Fence Cutting Wars. It was this conflict that led to the many types of modern privacy fence seen in Texas today.

Fence cutting wars

Barbed Wire

Barbed wire had been available in Texas since the 1870s, but it wasn’t considered to be a durable form of fencing by stockmen, who considered barbed wire to be as useless as the smooth wire fencing which failed to hold their stock.

However, other stockmen realized that this new product could give them the ability to prevent the stock from landless cowmen from wandering in to graze on their property. Knowing this, they purchased grass and water-rich land and placed barbed wire around these plots to protect them.

Stockmen who couldn’t afford money for barbed wire or better grazing land were forced to send herds to graze on the state-owned open range. Because of the increasing number of fenced-in properties, these smaller stock owners often found it difficult to feed and water their herds.

Barbed wire fencing would also cause stock to become injured. These unattended injuries would lead to screwworm infestations, which led to the death of many cattle and lost revenue for stockmen.

Texas Fence Cutting Wars

How the Wars Began

A severe drought in 1883 was especially hard on stock owners. Not only did several creeks, rivers, and watering holes dry up almost completely in the summer and fall of that year, but grass was withering all over the open range. This gave landless stock owners no choice but to move west. Unfortunately, when they did so, they were only faced with more fences.

However, they also met homesteaders, who also disliked the fences because they crossed public roads and prevented travel. Together, they began to protest against the growing number of barbed wire fences. Soon, their protests would reach the Texas Greenback Party, which would also lend its voice to the outcry.

After several unsuccessful meetings, protests, and unanswered letters, landless stock owners decided that the only option left was to cut the fences. Well-organized groups were formed, and the cutting began. As the drought worsened, even legally-installed fencing was cut. Pastures were set on fire, and landowners were threatened.

Lobbying and Mabel Doss Day

The most influential anti-nipping protester was widowed and debt-ridden Mabel Doss Day, whose protests led to the passing of legislation which would punish the act of fence cutting and pasture burning by up to five years in state prison. Unfortunately, the fence-cutting wars would continue until 1889, when Texas Rangers were called to assist.

Effect on Modern Fencing

Today, fencing is everywhere, in several different forms, and stock owners are no longer battling as they used to over land ownership. However, fencing remains one of the most effective means to assert property rights and boundaries. Barrier Fence offers a wide range of products for your agricultural fencing needs; call (512) 709-8467 today to discover your Austin fencing options.

Keep Your Fence Looking Perfect with These 5 Easy Maintenance Tips

A privacy fence around your yard is ideal, not only for privacy but also for staying safe and adding style to your home. However, fences do require regular maintenance; without it, they’ll rot and wither away until they need to be replaced. Luckily, regular maintenance isn’t just possible, it’s ridiculously easy if you have the right knowledge and tools. These 5 easy maintenance tips will ensure your fence lasts for years to come.

Fence Looking Perfect

1. Apply a Wood Preservative

Wood posts are stuck into the ground, and that makes them susceptible to both moisture and bugs. The part of the posts that stays above the ground can also become worn from moisture, exposure to the elements, wind, rain, and sun. Apply a wood preservative to keep the wood in the best condition possible when you first install your new fence. Doing so will avoid the typical daily wear and damage, ensuring that your new installation stays protected from elemental damage at all times.

2. Remove Bushes and Vines

It may seem harmless to let bushes and vines grow around your fence, but it can cause a great deal of damage—often more than people realize. These elements pull in extra moisture from the ground, making your posts rot faster and causing the wood to split. They can also scratch at the surface of your fence, removing the protectant and exposing the underlying wood. Remove any bushes and vines as soon as you see them growing.

3. Clean the Fence Regularly

No matter what type of fence you have, it is always wise to clean it regularly. Even with the protectant spread on thickly, you will still experience damage if the fence is layered in dirt. Never use harsh cleansers; they’ll strip off the coating. Instead, use a mild household detergent and a scrub brush to remove dirt and stains.

Fencing Austin Texas

4. Add a Support Rail

Most fences will start to loosen and become unstable over time. Rather than having to replace entire posts, simply add a support rail. Nail the rail into the center, going across the other posts to provide the best support. Deck screws are especially well-suited for this task.

5.Clear Snow in the Winter

While some cities don’t see as much snowfall, many still get a bit of precipitation in the winter. Any amount of snow, or even cold rain, can cause damage to a fence, making it essential to clear off whatever sticks right away. Brush the snow off the fence and make sure there is no snow around the base, either. It will only bring in more moisture, causing the fence to rot away faster.

Keep your privacy fence looking perfect with these five easy-peasy maintenance tips. It doesn’t take much to ensure your fence stays in pristine condition and continues to do its job! Need a new fence installed, or want to explore new options? Contact Barrier Fence today.