Post 167 – by Gautam Shah
Fences are barriers to confine or exclude people or animals, to define boundaries, or to decorate. Fort walls and compound or estate walls are solid and heavy structures, but are not considered fences. Fences are lighter and of limited height. Fences are transparent to translucent to allow unrestricted flow of vision, water and air.
Fences are nominally erected over the ground but any physical obstruction, natural or man-made can function as fencing. So a ditch or dry or water filled moats can work as a fence. Fences of vegetation such as plants, hedges, climbers, cactus and dry thorny shrubs are used in farms and fields. Timber, earth, stones, and lattices, wires and nets of metals are widely used for fencing.
In 19 C North America, many varieties of timber fencing were developed, such as the split rail laid zigzag, the post rail, and the picket. Other common fences are chain-link fence, hurricane fences, and white picket fences. In comparatively low rainfall areas like East Europe and in W. USA, turf was dumped to form a fence.
The first patents on barbed wire fencing were taken out in the United States in 1867. However, it was in 1874, when its production by machines, made its use widespread. Woven wire fences and expanded metal lattices, affixed to wood, steel, or concrete posts, proved economical and durable.
Electrified fences, frequently a single strand of barbed wire, are sometimes used for temporary confinement of animals. A mild shock is given to the animal at intervals of a few seconds if it is in contact with the fence. Fence wire usually consists of two longitudinal wires twisted together to form an entwined cable and having wire barbs wound around either or both of the cable wires at regular intervals. The varieties of barbed wires are numerous, with cables being single or double, round, half-round, or flat and having a range of gauges. The twisted double wire provides extra strength and permits contraction and expansion without breakage. Barbs are diagonally cut in order to provide sharper points and they may be formed of one or two pieces (two or four points) and are generally spaced at intervals of 100 to 130 mm.
Fences are considered as safety barricades against animals, insects, humans and vehicles. These pose Height and Width factored hazards. Barbed wire fences have straight head, inward, outward bend or double head (Y form) at the top to make the crossover difficult. Armed forces place extended coils of barbed wire loops on ground without any posts. During world war-II barbed wire fence posts were spiked to prevent air craft landing.
Hitler’s concentration camps are grim-reminder of fencing used for forceful confinement. Berlin, Germany was first divided by barbed wire fencing, which however did not prevent people escaping through it, so were replaced with massive RCC walls. Yet nations of the world still put up barbed wire fences to demarcate boundaries, as it provides a cheap and fast way of erection. India and Pakistan boundaries are fenced with double rows fencing, with an inspection path in the middle, and recognised no-man’s land across it.
Ownership of a fence between two properties is matter of dispute. The person who builds the fence first, remains the owner of it, and is also responsible for its upkeep. This, however, does not prevent the neighbour to place a patch at places of break. Ownership of a fence is often marked on title deeds with horizontal ‘T’ symbol, with the leg of T shown towards and in the property of the owner. Nominally fencing wires, lattices, or the cladding is placed on the non-owners side, to enable repairs or straightening of posts as and when required.
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