Neighbor problem...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by farmguycitygirl, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. farmguycitygirl

    farmguycitygirl In the Brooder

    Apr 24, 2012
    Round Rock, Texas
    First some background:

    I have a good relationship with the neighbors on either side of me, and one behind. I have not met the other neighbor, who is the focus of this post.

    We have a 6 ft wood fence between us, which I own. They have junk trees growing 2" from the fence, which have pushed my fence two feet into my property. They have two pit-bulls that seem nice enough, but that sometimes jump against the fence, cracking or snapping the pickets. I have a swingset and small wood pile on this side of the fence. Sometimes, my four chickens jump on the swingset, then on the fence, to sit in the shade of the tree in the afternoon.

    Yesterday, the owner visited me and asked quite politely if I would put barbed wire on the fence to stop the chickens sitting there as it was upsetting her dogs, and she didn't like the idea of her dogs killing a chicken. I explained that while I care for my chickens, if one is stupid enough to get itself killed by her dogs, I would not feel too great a sense of loss - not so much that I felt it was worth rebuilding the fence. Further, it is hard to rebuild the fence with their trees forcing it over anyway. I also said that barbwire would not dissuade the chickens, and could hurt them, or her dogs, or her children, and could make me liable.

    She countered that I must put barb wire on my fence, or else. Further, if her dogs broke into my yard and harmed my chickens, she would hold me responsible.

    I can see her point of view, but if my chickens are standing on my fence, that is my business. I am allowed ten chickens, and have eight. I observe all laws and ordinances.

    I said I would think about it, and visit her one evening soon to see if we could reach a compromise.

    So, I turn to you, my fellow forumies (!) for advice on how to defuse this situation favorably, and also for any insights into where I might stand legally. My jurisdiction is Round Rock, Williamson County, Texas.

    What should I do?
  2. RileyB

    RileyB Chirping

    Jun 7, 2012
    If you are following the local laws then she's just going to have to deal with it. I think your idea about sitting down and reaching a compromise is great. You definitely want things to be amicable if possible. However, it sounds like she's being a bit unreasonable. How can she hold you responsible if HER dogs break into YOUR yard and eat your chickens???
  3. cary 1973

    cary 1973 Songster

    once her dogs leave her property line then she is in the wrong and responsible or at least thats how it is here in Nevada if she knows her dogs have the strenght to brake that fence it is her responsibly to keep them chained up or dog run where they can not brake the fence.
  4. farmguycitygirl

    farmguycitygirl In the Brooder

    Apr 24, 2012
    Round Rock, Texas
    If my chicken should fall in her yard and be eaten by her dog, and I had no desire to sue or claim damages, what liability might I face?
  5. mickey328

    mickey328 Songster

    May 4, 2012
    Northern Colorado
    There's no question in my mind that you're legally in the right. However, that may not really be the issue. If her dogs do get into your yard, being "right" may not assuage the damage they may do. You definitely need to talk with her, for sense at all in having someone be all cranky and potentially causing you lots of trouble. I know it seems like caving in, but is there any way to discourage the chickens from sitting on the fence?

    It seems she's trying to be responsible...if the dogs did it once and got a taste for chickens, it could cause no end of trouble. You also might talk to your local animal control office and see if they can offer any suggestions.
  6. farmguycitygirl

    farmguycitygirl In the Brooder

    Apr 24, 2012
    Round Rock, Texas
    I offered to move the swingset and wood from near the fence so they'd be less likely to jump up. I'll do that this weekend. I think my ideal solution is one that answers her concern or worry, but doesn't cost me money I don't have - one of the reasons I got chickens in the first place. ;)

    One IM reply was "tell her she is welcome to remove the junk trees and build a fence that meets her requirements on her side of the property boundary. your fence meets legal requirements and YOUR needs - it's there for you, not her." (direct quote)
  7. humphrey farms

    humphrey farms Chirping

    Jun 28, 2012
    Naples Maine
    I would also suggest to your neighbor that they too are responsible for THEIR DOGS and maybe they should reinforce your fence with something of their own making . Your neighbor is responsible for her dog's actions.
  8. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Songster

    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I don't know. I feel like she is actually being pretty reasonable and is trying to protect your chickens and also her children from coming home to carnage. If your chickens are sitting on the only fence that separates your two yards then they are almost in her yard and very well could jump down one day. If I were her it would make me very uncomfortable and I would worry about it. Also, pit bull owners sometimes get a lot of flack and it is possible she wants to keep things civil and not be accused of things later.

    I feel like what she is really saying is that she feels like you expect her to keep her animals in her yard and she wants to make sure you also keep yours in your yard. The 2 feet of property difference and who paid for the fence get into weird technical issues - and technically you are in the right and following the law, but is it worth conflict?

    The barbed wire is a bit much and she seemed a bit too reactive and defensive. I think you handled it really well. Giving yourself time to think is really smart.

    Perhaps there are other things you can do to discourage the birds from sitting there. If it does not look like a good place to land then they will not want to land there. Draped string or netting or something that curves down - people may have better suggestions. Or, if perhaps a stronger or different fence is needed maybe she would agree to split the cost if not pay for it.

    If the tree or the fence placement or any other things are bothering you it would be a great time to bring them up so all issues can possibly be resolved in one go.

    Good luck!! Let us know how it goes.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2012
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Quote: That made me laugh out loud. She's NUTS. If her dogs come onto your property and kill your birds, she is ALWAYS responsible, no if's, and's or but's, especially if there is a fence. It's her job to contain her dogs. If her dogs are likely to break down the fence, she needs to put one up that will contain them, end of story. In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, what a maroon!

    I'd certainly move the swingset, just so the birds will have fun elsewhere, but good grief, it's your yard, your fence, your birds are on their own property. If one gets onto her property and one of her dogs kills it, then of course, it didn't hurt her dog and you have nothing to complain about, however, if her dogs get into your yard, it's all on her.

    I'm not one of these people who cares about good neighbor relations. That ends when the chicken owner is always considered in the wrong, just because he/she is owns chickens. Sheesh. Barbed wire will rip open a chicken and it would also hurt her dogs if they jumped on it. They aren't cattle, for crying out loud.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2012
  10. farmguycitygirl

    farmguycitygirl In the Brooder

    Apr 24, 2012
    Round Rock, Texas
    I don't want to think she's nuts. I always take the view in a dispute that the other side feels that they are being completely reasonable and fair, even if they're not. I think she may feel defensive about her choice of dog breed (her pitbulls are nice enough but could use a little more training) and want to avoid any appearance of them being aggressive. I understand that.

    At the end of the day, they routinely will catch squirrels, other birds, the odd cat. A chicken isn't going to be a whole new world to them that will suddenly give them bloodlust and make them attack grannies and small children. I think the tree/fence issue complicates matters, in that it's hard for me to modify or improve a fence that's more wavy than a very wavy thing!

    I think here's what I'll say, and I would appreciate any feedback.

    "I'm sorry my chickens are encouraging your dogs to bark, and I can see your interest in preventing that so you avoid complaints from neighbors. I would like to make it harder for them to reach that spot. However, it is hard to do so when your tree and dogs are damaging my fence, and intruding on my property. If you could see your way to removing or trimming back the trees, I could rebuild the fence in a way that discourages the chickens from perching there, and stops the dogs from seeing through the gaps."
    1 person likes this.

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