Friday, December 28, 2007


Fences and Pounds

These are some notes to myself as I'm in the middle of reading Susan Allport, Sermons in Stone: the Stone Walls of New England and New York (New York: W.W. Norton, 1990).

On pp. 51-55 Allport discusses pounds (enclosures for confining escaped farm animals until they can be retrieved by their owners). There is a pound on Baker Hill in Orrington, Maine, near where I grew up. It was recently struck by a minivan and damaged: see Nok-Noi Hauger, "Council discusses Orrington Pound damage repair," Bangor Daily News (Nov. 15, 2006). The pound in Waldoboro, Maine, is on the National Register of Historic Places. An article by Eileen M. Adams in the Lewiston Sun Journal (Sept. 10, 2007) says the pound in Greenwood, Maine, is also on the Register, but I can't find it listed in the Register's online database. Adams' article refers to other surviving pounds in Maine (Pownal, Otisfield, Jefferson, Porter, Parsonsfield, etc.).

The book has much interesting material on laws governing fences. Most put the responsibility on animal owners, but some (p. 34) required farmers to "restrain" (fence in) their crops! I'm familiar with a Minnesota statute still on the books (chapter 346, on stray animals). I think that the genesis of the law was to protect farmers whose crops were trampled by escaped farm animals (with triple damages assessed, 346.16), but most of the case law involves automobile accidents caused by stray animals. I've heard of a recent bodily injury lawsuit in which this statute plays a part.

To judge by the index, the book doesn't mention the escape of the Thoreaus' pig, of which there are extensive and humorous descriptions in Thoreau's Journal (Aug. 8 and 26, 1856).

There are line drawings but no photographs in the book.

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