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Bandon Gardeners Face Livestock Invasion

Deer are probably the most common garden invaders in the mythical State of Jefferson today, but 100 years ago in Bandon, Ore., gardeners had a domestic nemesis.  Cows and horses were ranging through the coastal town, chomping a smorgasbord of lawn, flower and garden vegetables.

Pressed to do something, the town council passed what became known as the “cow ordinance.”  It fined livestock owners $2.50 per head for each incident, but somehow that stiff penalty dropped to four-bits a head, making it cheaper to graze animals on roses and lettuce than to pay for pasture in the countryside.

The citizenry reacted by putting up fences of all sizes and quality of craftsmanship.  It was claimed that 50 to 60 miles of fencing went up before the bovine problem was resolved.  The cows went to pasture instead of downtown, no longer tarnishing the beauty of Bandon by the Sea. 

It wasn’t long until Bandon had a new problem of dilapidated and unsightly fences that were no longer needed.

A newspaper editorial suggested the solution was to impose a fine on unkempt fences, sort of replacing the “cow ordinance” with a “fence ordinance.”

Source: "That Cow." The Bandon Recorder Apr. 1916: 2. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

Christopher Shockey has been a long-time JPR listener and contributor. He lives on a 40-acre hillside homestead in the Applegate Valley with his wife, Kristen. He enjoys supporting both the Southern Oregon Historical Society and JPR by digging up regional stories for As It Was.