Homestead Happenings: To Be, or Not to Be, That Neighbor

You have to get pretty far out in the boonies to get the most tolerant neighbors. I think that’s a good thing. Usually.

Life has gotten even quieter here in the boonies in the last few years. The popular hype would have it that city folk are moving to the countryside in droves. While that may be so, the evidence is still wanting, at least around here.

It would seem the weekenders have less time, or energy, to practice their Sunday “Guns for God” rituals that used to attract them to these parts at regular intervals, in search of target practice.

In this, and other tolerance-mandatory moments, I have not always been as tolerant as the situation has required, I admit.

One time I recall a pick-up truck of ill-mannered miscreants, rifles in hand, showing up at our gate while Hubby was at work and announcing they would be hunting wild hog at the creek which is our property line, and I should let them come in through our gate for that purpose.

I put on my best ‘down home girl’ accent, which most likely fooled precisely no one, and said, “Ain’t no hogs down there darlin’s, creek’s nearly dry, can’t ya see!”

I so wanted to take that opportune moment to educate my derelict audience in the practice of deliberate drought by weather modification, but in reading the room, I decided against it.

“Best y’all get ya’s further down the Trinity valley,” I offered instead.

I know it wasn’t the fake drawl, and I had no gun on me, so I’m figurin’ it was my no-nonsense demeanor that got to ‘em. Not only did they not get through our gate, but they must’ve moved their shindig to other parts, ‘cause they moseyed on, I expect to more cooperative (aka, tolerant) locales.

Ain’t seen ‘em back since.

And then there’s the dogs, always the dogs. Owners are always losing their hunting dogs, even with them fancy tracking devices on ‘em. One time one frightened cutey found his way here and I trapped him, gave him a nice lavender bath ‘cause the poor dear stunk to high heaven, and waited for the owner to come a callin’, which he did, commenting on the dog’s unwelcome new fragrance.

Some assholes actually drop off the dogs they don’t want on our country roads. Can you believe that?!

And as if that’s not bad enough, sometimes your own neighbors are the problem.

When you lose half your flock of chickens to a sneaky dog your neighbor adores, and you caught him red-handed on candid camera, but the neighbor still insists it’s ‘your problem’, tension tends to develop.

Especially if you are me.

I’m like an angry, barking squirrel when I lose my patience, I get that. I’d try to correct that clear character flaw if it weren’t something I was proud of and have worked at developing so consistently.

But still, I can’t stand by and witness hypocrisy, even, or maybe especially, if it’s my own.

And now, it comes around, as our neighbors, few and quiet as they mostly are, have our livestock guard dogs, who think the entire county is their personal protection zone, annoying them with border barking patrols, all night long.

Let sleeping dogs lie? Hardly! The whole county gets a taste of their actions after midnight!

I want to send them an exasperated message—I’m so sorry—they are not respecting their boundaries! We don’t want to be ‘that’ neighbor, really!

But in our defense, not even the electric fence stops them! We are at our wit’s end trying to solve this issue!

Thank you for your patience!

Thankfully for us, our neighbors are so tolerant they don’t even have the decency to complain.

And as if that wasn’t enough. All my best laid plans of goats and cheeses are dwindling.

Summer, herd queen, always taking the high ground, with Phoebe and Chestnut cowering nearby. A definite love-hate relationship.

The goats have declared mutiny. We already had a misfit crew: Summer the Eldest, herd queen, a belligerent, bossy bitch who terrorizes the rest of the herd with her monster horns, yet who they follow everywhere; Chestnut the Crazy, who is super-skittish and a first-freshener and more moody than a teenage girl; and Phoebe the Squatter, another first-freshener, who is the most stubborn goat on earth, I’m certain.

These horns were meant for knockin’, and that’s just what they’ll do . . .
“But, but, but . . . can’t you see how cute and innocent we are?”

I’ve been watching YouTubes and reading up for months now and I can say that not one goat I’ve seen can match Phoebe in out-right belligerence and deceptive tactics. She’ll jump right up on that stand, give you a singular taste of cooperation, only to . . .BAM . . .lay right down on the job as soon as I get my bucket in position.

And go figure, that is not among the prize characteristics showcased at the 4-H or any other of the breeding clubs.

My goat guru offered the most obvious of advice, “You must be more stubborn than the goat!”

Honestly, I thought my stubbornness to be among my most obvious and enviable characteristics, inherited from my mother. I then deliberately married a very stubborn man, who also inherited his stubbornness from his mother. We’re like five generations of stubborn in one.

And yet, we are like the impetuous novices in comparison to truly goat-level stubborness. I must humbly admit, I’ve been defeated. My cheese-making days are on the wane, maybe for many more months, just when I was really getting into the swing of things.

Alas, the simple life is really not that simple.

Good bye fair cheeses, may we meet again!

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