Dear Kelsey: My neighbor’s dog keeps running into our pasture and harassing the cows. What’s my best course of action, and is there anything legal recourse I could or should pursue? — James O.
First of all James O., I’m not a lawyer so do not take any legal advice from me. If you’re a part of your state farm commodity groups, some of those have lawyers available for questions such as this. You might try giving them a call and seeing if they might direct you to an answer in regards to legality issues on this.
Second, have you tried a conversation? My dog is an outside dog that isn’t tied up or gated in. I’m gone a lot during the day. He’s always home when I get home. But in all actuality I have no idea if he’s gone exploring while I’m gone. I’ve never had any reason to think that he has. Maybe your neighbors are unaware that their dog is venturing away from their property. Potentially a simple conversation could fix the problem.
I would recommend documenting everything you do. When you see the dog with your cows, take a photo or video. If you speak with the neighbors, document what was said and when you had the conversation. Text messages or emails are easy written proof of conversations, but without the in-person conversation, these can be taken out of context or read with the wrong intent. I don’t know what your relationship with your neighbor is so it’s hard for me have an idea of how a conversation might go.
Maybe your neighbor doesn’t understand the ag lifestyle. Maybe a quick explanation of how the dog is causing stress to the cattle would be prudent. Tell them how cattle are prey animals and need to protect themselves and their babies. Dogs look like coyotes and other predators. Remind them you want your cattle to be calm and content so they remain healthy for you. Tell them this is your business, your income, your lifestyle.
If you don’t get satisfaction from a conversation, try a phone call to your local law enforcement officers. See what you can do. Remember you get more flies with honey than vinegar. I know this is a frustrating situation for you. I understand you want to be mad. I would be too. But start with kindness. See if that doesn’t get the result you want. You’re probably going to be neighbors with these people for some time. It’d be better if could be tolerable, if not friendly. Nobody wants to be neighbors with people they can’t stand.
Good luck James! I hope the situation gets resolved peacefully so your cows can stop being harassed.
Dear Kelsey: Farmers are known for adopting science and technology on their farms, but they’re generally also seen as being very religious. How do I best explain that to people, especially to those who don’t think faith and science go well together? — Donnie R.
This one took some thinking for me.
To be honest, I’ve never ran across this thought philosophy. My initial reaction would be to speak about how implementing new technologies are allowing you to care for God’s creation (land, livestock, people) better.
GPS allows us to be precise with applications. Planter monitors and technology allows us to plant the perfect number of seeds. Combines are efficient and lose very little grain. Solar-powered fencers and hot-wires allows us to rotate livestock through paddocks. This allows the grass to rest, recharge, and regrow — meaning we aren’t overgrazing. GMOs are allowing us to feed more of the world’s population than ever before.
I’m not a hugely religious person. But I would say one of the biggest callings we have of being one of God’s children is to take care of His other children. So many of us in the United States are so used to the choice and availability of food, that we forget people are starving right now. Anything that I can do in my corner of Kansas that will allow those people a chance at food, I’m going to do.
In the end when we’re standing in front of those pearly gates, we’re going to be asked about our own life. We’re not going to be asked about other’s choices. We’re going to have to defend ours. Our society wants to be offended and have an opinion about everybody and their choices. Remember that it’s not going to matter what everybody else did. They will answer for themselves. You are responsible for you, and I’m responsible for me. To me, implementing technology allows me to be a better steward for what I have been entrusted.
I’m not sure that was a great answer for you Donnie, but I’d just like to encourage you to be confident in what you’re doing. A lot of times a simple conversation and explanation can help iron the wrinkles out. Good luck!
Kelsey Pagel is a Kansas farmer and the author of Till & Talk, a regular AGDAILY column that answers reader-submitted questions about modern agriculture and rural life. Kelsey grew up on a cow/calf and row crop operation and married into another. She and her Forever (Matt) farm and ranch with his family where they are living their dream and loving most of the moments.
To submit a question, email Kelsey at email@example.com.