By hook or by crook
SueC1001
I seem to recall that this has some kind of Colonial origin to do with fruit trees but I can't remember the whole story. Does anyone know?
AtoZ
Check out the following site for someone's best guess:

http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=20010418

allan2uk
This goes well back in english history and is connected with land boundaries. I dimly recollect that villager? shepherds? were entitled to collect fallen branches and twigs etc,for firewood, that they could reach with a billhook or shepherds crook,over the fence or wall of the landowner. I am pretty certain this is the basic answer.

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