Leonard Vincent Koos.

Farmers' law. Minnesota ed online

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and other places which the business of the road or public
convenience requires to be open. Where a company does
not meet this requirement, it is liable for all domestic ani-
mals killed or injured by this negligence.



When horses run away after being left loose or unat-
tended in a public road or street the owner must pay for all
damages they cause in running away, as his failure to
secure the animals or attend them is considered negligence
in him. But if a horse, against all that a driver can do,
while being driven along a public road, works damage by
running off the road into adjoining property, the owner of
the horse need not make good the loss caused by this act.
Generally, owners are liable for damage caused by their
livestock in trespassing upon fenced lands, but such an
owner is not liable where the lands are not inclosed, unless
he knowingly drives the animals upon the open land of
some other person.


Persons owning or having control of horses afflicted
with glanders may not permit such animals to run at large
or be driven upon any highway. They are not permitted
to dispose of such animals in any way to any other person.
It is a gross misdemeanor to import or drive into the state,
turn out or suffer to run at large upon highways or lands
not enclosed, or to dispose of to others any sheep known to
be infected with any contagious disease. The carcasses
of all domestic animals known to have died of any disease
must be buried at least three feet in the ground or be
burned. Such carcasses must not be sold. No animal
thus diseased may be permitted to run at large.

The state laws provide for a Live Stock Sanitary Board
of five members, which works with the local boards of
health to protect the health of domestic animals of the
state. This board, as well as the local board of health,
which is, in the town, the board of supervisors, has authority


to quarantine or kill any animal infected with or exposed to
any dangerous or infectious disease. Any person who
knows or has reason to suspect that such a disease exists in
any domestic animal must immediately notify the town
board, who will notify the state board.

There is no law in the state compelling the tuberculin
testing of cows, although in the minds of many such a law
is much to be desired. But some cities have passed ordi-
nances requiring all those who sell milk within the city
limits to have their cows so tested.

After the Live Stock Sanitary Board knows that an
animal is infected with tuberculosis or glanders it may
order such animal shipped for killing at any of the slaughter-
houses in the state where there is Federal inspection. These
slaughter houses are at South St. Paul, Albert Lea, Man-
kato, and Fergus Falls. Before being taken from the prem-
ises of the owner the animal is appraised by three disinter-
ested men. The appraisal is limited to sixty dollars for a
cow and one hundred twenty-five dollars for a horse as
maximum amounts, except in case of pure-bred stock, when
the highest appraisal that may be made is one hundred fifty
dollars. The cost of shipping is paid by the Live Stock
Sanitary Board. If after slaughter the animals are found
to be free from any contagious or infectious disease, the full
amount of appraisal, less the value of the carcass, shall be
paid to the owner by the state. If they are found to be
afflicted with glanders or tuberculosis, the value of the car-
cass will be taken from the appraised value and three-
fourths of the remainder will be paid to the owner.


For all domestic animals brought into the state for work,
feeding, breeding, or dairy purposes, a certificate of health


must be filed with the Live Stock Sanitary Board. In the
case of cattle over six months of age brought into the state
for breeding or dairy purposes, the absence of tuberculosis
must have been determined by the tuberculin test within
thirty days preceding the date of their importation.


A 1913 statute declares the hog cholera serum plant at
the College of Agriculture the hog cholera serum plant of
the State of Minnesota, and provides that the serum there
made be sold to any hog owner in the state at one-third of
one cent per cubic centimeter and express charges. It
further states that if the state plant can not supply the
demand by its own manufacture, to do so it may purchase
the serum in the open market. The law requires that this
serum be used only by veterinarians.


One who for pay takes cattle, horses, or other domestic
animals to pasture on his land is known in law as an agister.
Besides furnishing the pasturage, an agister is generally
liable for negligence and must be ordinarily careful in pro-
tecting the animals in his charge. The Minnesota Statute
gives the agister a lien upon the animals for pasturing them,
although the lien does not exist after he voluntarily gives
up the animals before payment.


Shoers have a lien upon a horse or other animals which
they have shod. To have such a lien the shoer, within six
months of the date the work was done, must file with the
town clerk, village recorder, or city clerk a statement made
under oath and a notice of his intention to claim a lien


upon the animal for his charges for shoeing same. The fee
for filing is twenty-five cents. Within six months of the
filing he commences suit for recovery of the charges for
shoeing. Summons, judgment, and execution follow as in
other civil actions of this nature.


The owner of a stallion, jack, bull, ram, or boar kept for
public service has a lien upon the young of the animal for
the value of the service. To keep the lien the owner must
file with the clerk of the town where the female is kept and
within six months of the date of the service a sworn state-
ment containing a description of the female, the time and
place of service, and the amount due for it. The lien is
foreclosed by advertisement and sale as described under the
head of chattel mortgages.


Minnesota Statute makes it a misdemeanor for any per-
son to

(1) "overdrive, overload, torture, cruelly beat, neg-
lect, unjustifiably maim, mutilate, or kill any
animal or cruelly work same when unfit for labor,
whether belonging to himself or another;

(2) "deprive of necessary food, water, or shelter any
animal of which he has charge or control ;

(3) "keep cows or other animals in any enclosure with-
out wholesome exercise and change of air;

(4) "feed cows on food which produces impure or un-
wholesome milk;

(5) "abandon any maimed, sick, infirm, or disabled
animal to die in any public place ;

(6) "allow any such animal to lie in the street, road, or
other public place for more than three hours after


Cutting the bony part of a horse's tail for the purpose of
docking it is punishable by fine and imprisonment. Per-
mitting any clipped animal to stand unblanketed in any
unsheltered place between November 1 and May 1 and
within sixty days after such clipping, is made a misdemeanor.
Poisoning or trying to poison any animal either one's own
or the property of another may be punished by fine or im-
prisonment or both. A sheriff, constable, village marshal,
police officer, or any officer of any society for the prevention
of cruelty may remove and care for any horse or other ani-
mal found exposed or remaining more than an hour without
attention in bad weather, or not properly fed and watered.
When necessary the officer may deliver the animal to
another person to be properly cared for, notifying the owner,
if known, at once of what is done. The officer or the person
in possession will have a lien upon the animal for its care
and the reasonable value of its food and drink.


Dogs are considered personal property. The owner or
keeper of any dog which kills, wounds, or worries any
domestic animal is liable to the owner of the animal for its
value, and any person who keeps or harbors such a dog, after
having received notice of the fact of its acts, is required to
pay a fine of five dollars for each day he permits such a dog
to remain on his premises. Any person may kill without
notice to the owner a dog which he finds worrying or injur-
ing sheep, and a sheep owner may kill any dog found on the
premises where he keeps sheep, if the dog is not under the
control of its owner or some other person. A dog that
habitually worries, chases, or molests teams or persons travel-
ing peaceably on a public road is a public nuisance. Such
a dog may not be killed except as follows: complaint is


made in writing to a justice of the peace who summons
the owner or keeper of the dog to a hearing. If, after the
evidence, the justice finds that such a dog is a public nui-
sance, he orders the constable to kill and bury the dog.




Questions and disputes as to farm boundaries or lines
between farms are constantly arising and are a very frequent
cause of ill-feeling between neighbors. Much of this ill-
feeling grows out of ignorance of the correct location of the
boundary line and a neglect of the means of learning what
that correct location is. If there is a real or honest misun-
derstanding, both parties should be willing to leave the
establishment of the line to a competent surveyor. Ac-
cording to statute any person owning land or having an
interest in it may bring an action in the district court
against the owner or persons interested in adjoining lands
to have the boundary line established. The court will then
by its judgment establish the boundary line. Under com-
mon law, where both parties to the misunderstanding are
uncertain as to the correct location of the line, a written
agreement between them establishing the line will be valid.
If the disputing owners come to an oral agreement and have
actual possession according to the line agreed upon for some
time after the agreement, such an oral agreement will stand.
Occupation for fifteen years following an oral agreement
will give title.



The owner of a farm abutting on the highway has a right
to all grass and trees growing on his half of the highway. A
farmer has the right to plow, level, and seed to grass the part
of the highway not actually used for public travel, except
within one rod of the center of the road. But by such work
he is not free to interfere with public travel. After he has
obtained the written approval of the town board concerning
a town road or of the county board concerning a county
road, he may plant trees on the side of the road within six
feet from the outside line. It is a misdemeanor for any
person to plow or dig up any part of the road except as
described in this paragraph.

When an owner of property along a road at least sixty
feet wide wishes to rear a hedge upon his property, to pro-
tect the hedge while growing he may build a fence upon the
road not more than six feet from the outside line, and he may
keep the fence there for five years after the hedge is planted.

The town board has been given the right to order when
trees or hedges on roads shall be cut down. But other trees
than willows can not be ordered cut down unless the center
of each tree is more than six feet from the outside line of
the road. Such trees may be cut down if they interfere
with keeping the road in good order or if they cause the
snow to drift in on the road enough to materially obstruct
travel. When the town board orders such trees to be cut
down the owner is allowed ninety days in which to do it. If
he fails to cut them down within that time the town board
has the power to order them cut down at town expense.
The wood of the trees belongs to the owner if he pays the
expense of cutting and removes them from the roadside
within sixty days. Where they are not removed by the


owner they may be sold by the town board and the pro-
ceeds go into the town road and bridge fund.

Town boards are required to build one good culvert for
the owner of abutting land when, on account of grading a
road, a culvert is necessary for a suitable approach from the
highway to the driveway leading from the abutting land.


If a stream forming the boundary of a farm is not navig-
able, the title to the farm reaches to the middle of the
stream. Islands between the middle of such a stream and
the bank are a part of the farm. But the title to a farm
bordering a navigable stream extends only to the highwater
mark. Navigability in fact makes a stream navigable in
law in Minnesota. All fresh water lakes but the larger
navigable ones are covered by titles to their shores, and a
title to one side of a pond will reach to the middle of the
pond unless the deed expressly denies this. Any sudden
change in the banks of a stream, through flood or other-
wise, does not change the boundary line of farms bordering
the stream.


Disputes often arise respecting trees on or near division
lines of adjoining farms. Who is entitled to their fruits,
or what may be done in case of damage wrought by such
trees? Courts have usually ruled that neither adjoining
owner possesses the right to destroy a tree located on the
boundary line without the consent of the other owner.
But there is no joint ownership where the trunk of a tree
rises from the ground some feet from the boundary line, and
no person has a right to fruit growing on branches which
overhang his land and extend from trees growing on his


neighbor's land. If these branches are a nuisance to him
he may remove them after having given notice to the tree


It is a misdemeanor for any person who, having set on
fire any woods, prairje, or other combustible material on his
own land, negligently permits the fire to extend beyond the
limits of his land, and he is liable for any damages resulting
from such negligence.


In Minnesota the supervisors of the respective towns,
aldermen of the cities, village trustees, and county commis-
sioners in counties not divided into organized towns are the
fence viewers.

With us, fences must have the following characteristics
in order to be recognized as legal :

(a) Board fences. These must be at least 54 inches
high and the boards must be fastened to posts not
more than 9 feet apart. The distance from the
ground to the bottom board must not be greater
than 20 inches and the distances between the
boards not more than 9 inches.

(b) Fences of one smooth and two barbed wires. The
wire must be firmly fastened to post.s not more than
33 feet apart with two stays between the posts.
The barbed wire must have at least 40 barbs to the
rod. The top wire is to be not more than 52
nor less than 48 inches high, and the bottom wire
is to be not less than 16 nor more than 20 inches
from the ground. - - t ; -


(c) Fences of four smooth wires. Posts and stays and
bottom wire as in (b). The top wire should be not
more than 54 nor less than 48 inches high.

(d) All other fences consisting of rails, timbers, boards,
stone walls, or any combination thereof, or of lakes,
streams, ditches, or hedges, which are considered
the equivalent of (a), (b), or (c) by the fence view-


Partition or "line" fences, as long as both adjoining
farmers continue to improve their lands, are to be main-
tained in equal shares. If any person neglects to repair or
rebuild his share of any line fence, his adjoining neighbor
may complain to the fence viewers. After notice to the
parties the viewers examine the fence and, if they decide
that it is insufficient, they are to direct the delinquent
neighbor to repair or rebuild within a certain time. If he
still neglects his duty, the complainant may do the necessary
work and recover double the expense of the work, together
with the fees of the viewers. The complainant has access
to the courts for recovery. In case a dispute arises as to
the rights of adjoining owners to line fences, either party
may apply for settlement to the fence viewers, who shall
assign to each his share in such fence, fixing the time by
which it is to be erected or repaired. Failure to comply
with the assignments of the viewers is dealt with as in the
case of complaint. Where the boundary between two
farms is a stream not of itself a sufficient fence and it is not
practicable to place a fence in the middle of the channel
where the true boundary is located and the occupants can
not agree as to where the fence shall go, either party may
apply to the viewers for settlement. Any person serving


six months' written notice upon an adjoining owner of his
determination not to improve his lands need not thereafter
keep up his share of the fence during the time his lands are
open and unimproved, and he may even remove his share
unless the adjoining owner pays him for it.




The term "riparian" has its source in the Latin word
"ripa," meaning the bank or shore of a river. Riparian
rights, then, are rights which come with the possession of
land under or along a stream, under, in the case where,
as we learned in the chapter on farm boundaries, the farm
borders on a stream not navigable; along, when the stream
is navigable.

Standing water is the property of the owner of the soil,
to be used and enjoyed largely as he chooses. Where a
man owns both banks of a stream not navigable he has title
to the full breadth of the bed of the stream and has right to
the use of its waters, while a man owning only one bank of
such a stream has the same use of the waters for his half of
the stream only. This right includes its use for agricultural
and domestic purposes, or for power. In this use he may
not interfere with the similar rights of others below him on
the stream. He may use the stream in any reasonable
manner, such as permitting his cattle to run in a pasture
bordering the stream, even though the stock makes foul
the stream and causes it to be unfit to drink. But he is
forbidden to throw offal or carcasses of dead animals into
the stream or in any way to pollute the water of the stream.
An upper owner along an unnavigable stream may even
draw from running water if he does not unreasonably cut
down the flow of the stream. An owner of land along a


stream of this kind may not completely block it up or turn
it aside without the consent of lower owners, though he may
dam the stream for power without their consent.

While an unnavigable stream is a private way, a navi-
gable stream is a public highway ; and even though a farmer
owns land on both sides, he is not permitted to obstruct
the stream by fence or otherwise.

The rights to ice on a stream are similar to the rights to
the use of the water: if the stream is unnavigable, the ice
is the property of the owner of the land bordering on and
under the stream; if navigable, the right to cut and take
away ice belongs to everyone. Ice in navigable streams
can not be justly claimed by anyone, however, until it is
ready for harvest.


Under common law the owner of a tract of land adjoin-
ing a lower tract may permit, without being liable for
damages, the surface waters from his land to drain upon the
lower land. With the owner of the lower tract rests the
right to pass it on. However, the upper owner is liable
for damages if neglect or intent to damage his neighbor's
property can be proved, or if he opens new channels where
the surface waters would not naturally flow. A lower
owner is liable for damages where surface waters are
dammed so as to back up on the land of an upper owner
and thus injure it.


To make possible the drainage of small and large areas
of land by means of open or tile ditches or otherwise, the
Legislature has provided for what are known as town, coun-
ty, judicial, and state ditches. The first three are so named


because the town board, the county commissioners, and the
district judge, respectively, are the authorities who have
the control of the establishment of such ditches; while the
state ditches are so named because the proceedings for
establishment begin with the State Drainage Commission,
made up of the Governor, the State Auditor, and the
Secretary of State. Local drainage has been largely secured
through the county ditch proceedings, whether the area
drained has been that of a single farm or a number of sec-
tions or townships. For this reason the steps of the county
method will be very briefly set forth. If the student wishes
to make a study of the processes in full he should have
access to the statutes.


(1) One or more landowners whose lands are liable to
be affected may file a petition with the county
auditor for the construction of a ditch, drain or
water course. In filing such a petition one or
more of such petitioners must give a bond to the
county pledging to pay all the expense in case the
county board establishes the ditch.

(2) The auditor gives three weeks' published and
posted notice of the filing of the petition. He also
sends copies of the petition to owners of land near
the proposed ditch.

(3) The county board orders an accurate survey of
the entire line of the ditch to be made by a com-
petent engineer. This engineer is required to
make q. complete report of his doings and to sub-
mit to the county board the necessary plans.

(4) Three viewers are appointed by the board to go
over the territory affected by the proposed ditch


and to make estimates of all benefits to be derived
from it and all damages suffered through its es-
tablishment by all tracts in this territory.
(5) The county board has a meeting at which the
engineer's and viewers' reports and all persons
interested are given a hearing. If the board de-
cides that the estimated benefits will be greater
than the total cost, including damages awarded,
they shall establish the ditch.

It will be seen that the above method may be followed
where a single farmer wishes to drain his land by a tile
drain, open ditch, or other watercourse which runs through
or under other lands than his own, or that it may be used
by a group of any number of farmers.



Almost the whole of the Minnesota law governing roads,
road establishment, road changing, road improvement, and
road upkeep is contained in the "Good Roads Act" included
in Chapter 235 of the Laws of the 1913 session of the State
Legislature. The more important features of the statute
are here stated in condensed form.


According to this statute there are three classes of
roads, state, county, and town roads. For each of these
there is a different method of establishment, alteration,
improvement, vacation, and upkeep. The four authorities
having immediate control of road administration are the
State Highway Commission, the district court, the board
of county commissioners, and the town board.

The word road is understood to include bridges on the


These are the steps in designating a state road: (1)
The county board by resolution names any established road
as a state road. (2) The county auditor sends a copy of
the resolution to the State Highway Commission with a
description of the road. (3) After determining that there
are sufficient funds and that the road should be named as


a state road, the State Highway Commission consents to
the designation. Whenever it is made known to the High-
way Commission that the county commissioners have
refused to grant a petition made for application for the
naming of a state road where the petition has been signed
by ten freeholders, the Highway Commission may give
such application new consideration. If, after such con-
sideration, it acts favorably upon the petition, a copy of
the written order granting the application is filed with the
county auditor.

After a state road has been designated, the state engineer
causes surveys to be made, grades to be established, and
plans and specifications to be made. This is done by one

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Online LibraryLeonard Vincent KoosFarmers' law. Minnesota ed → online text (page 4 of 12)