Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On Being A Fertilizer Magnet

Some years back, certain folks saw other people who were different from themselves and decided the way to deal with this differentness was to fly some planes into buildings. That same attitude is alive and well, albeit on a slightly smaller scale, in our local communities today.

We all face the choice at some point in our lives to Be True To Ourselves or Be Obedient Sheep. For the Conformity At All Costs crowd, there are planned communities with homeowner associations, where little Nazis can enforce approved paint colors, landscaping requirements, storage shed bans, and other examples of institutionalized codependency. They should stay in their gated enclaves instead of spreading through the countryside like a poo-flinging plague.

No, I don't think it was a coincidence that the BTK Killer worked in Compliance Enforcement.

Since I chose the other option, I constantly draw the ire of those who feel Everyone Who Is Not Just Like Them Must Be EVIL.

Now, I live out in the country surrounded by farmland. The closest occupied dwelling is over a quarter mile away. Law enforcement response time can be 20 minutes on a good day. There are no homeowner associations. But there is no lack of codependent idiots.

When my old mare was alive, the We Watch Too Much Animal Planet crowd figured in heavily as well. At age 22, she ruptured the lateral collateral ligaments in her right stifle joint fooling around in a muddy paddock. The local big-name-leg-man-horse-vet told me the injury wasn't survivable, but Margo had other ideas. With the help of my holistic vet, she healed and lived another six years, but developed a permanent hitch in her gitalong from fooling around and reinjuring her leg.

Margo a year after her "fatal" injury

Passers-by who saw her standing the way she was most comfortable or moving carefully ASSUMED there was Something Terribly Wrong and called the sheriff. After repeated discussions with my vet and my documentation that I was spending over $1,000 a month on her well-being, they advised me to post my property against trespassing and keep my gate locked.

Oh yeah, I forgot the earlier complaint by a Rural Living N00b that had a deputy nearly rolling with laughter when he came to check it out. Seems some fool reported I had a blindfolded horse after seeing her wearing one of these.

And the guy who showed up telling me I needed to sell my horse for slaughter since he never saw me riding her? I could get real good money from the killers for a big, fat horse like that, don'cha know. He'd even haul her to the auction for me, for a cut of the profits. I told him to leave while he still could.

Then there was the woman who showed up saying she'd just moved in down the road and didn't have any friends. She wanted to be my friend, and we could have coffee together, and swap recipes, and go shopping, and everything. Ick, ick, ick, ick, ick. I choose my friends, and that kind of crap doesn't qualify.

All my life, I've wanted to live in the woods. So an acreage out in the country should be just perfect for finally meeting that goal, right? Not so much. OF COURSE you must really want all those nasty trees cut down, and there are lots of people willing to tell you how they'll "help you out" by bulldozing everything, or even better, report you to the sheriff as being somehow incompetent because you don't have a chemically-dependent biological wasteland pretty wall-to-wall lawn like they do.

Then there's the series of people who want to buy my place. Call me stupid, but I generally figure a property that's for sale will, like, have a FOR SALE sign out front, or be listed with a realtor somewhere. If I saw a place I liked, I might make a note of it and inquire if I saw it go on the market, but I would never look up the owners' names and contact them saying I wanted to buy the place. Nor would I ever dream of justifying such behavior by claiming I'm somehow more entitled to own the property than they are.

Nor would I enlist the aid of friends in the county zoning office to bombard the owners with violation after violation (most of which were for violating the in-town zoning regulations of the county seat -- how stupid do you think I am?) in an attempt to convince them they should move elsewhere.

I had to go to the county attorney with my attorney on that one. Fortunately the old-boys club doesn't extend everywhere, and zoning employees lost their jobs before all was said and done.

Now I'm on the fourth round of wannabe-buyers who don't understand No Means No. This time they looked me up on the assessor's website (THANK YOU for enabling harassment and identity theft, you tools) and sent me a letter. They had bought the adjacent 150 acres and felt that entitled them to my little corner of the world as well. Let's see, they have over 100 times as much land as I do, and feel that only makes it "right" they have mine? Greedy much?

I sent them a response saying the property was not for sale and I wanted no further contact with them. So of course they later left a note on my gate saying I needed to call them ASAP or they'd show up at my door over the weekend. Did I mention the locked gate and the No Trespassing sign?

I called my lawyer who called them immediately, telling them I was not selling and they were not to contact me again. What happened next?* An anonymous call to the sheriff's office saying they need to check on me because I have VEHICLES and DOGS THAT ARE BIGGER THAN PIT BULLS. Oopsie, the dogs' fully fenced exercise yard is only visible from their property, not from the road. They also helpfully gave the sheriff's office an account of when I leave and return home every day. Nobody can see that from their kitchen window.

That got me a "welfare check" at 10:00 pm on a Friday night. More lawyer calls, more documentation sent in writing to the sheriff's office. This crap is getting to smell like stalking.

Why the bloody hell can't these morons just leave me alone?

There is one consequence of all the stupidity I'm thankful for. It was a sheriff's deputy years ago responding to an intruder trouble call who first suggested I should consider getting a gun.

* Almost forgot to include this incident and another where I came out my front door to find a pickup in my driveway with activity outside the privacy fence. They saw me coming and left in a hurry. I photographed the tracks in the snow where they were going to try to get around my fence. Oh, and the earlier one when I heard men's voices outside my window in the middle of the night. Calling out they had one chance to vacate the premises backed up by racking my 12-gauge shut that one down real quick.


Fenris said...

People and their bloody inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement.

Sorry you have to deal with that.

Sorrier it's not feasible to install a moat and line of claymores underline the hint you're not interested in their little games.

Linoge said...

Wow. I always wanted to live out in the boondocks as well (primarily to set up a firing range in my back yard), but if this kind of attention is the cost of doing so, hell with that...

Seems to me it might be time to put up a few of those, "If you can read this, you are in range," signs just inside of your "No Tresspassing" signs.

Or, on the flip side, those game/hunting motion-activated cameras make fair security cameras for the outside world... Apart from that, a restraining order is worth the paper it is written on, but that might be worth it.

Hecate said...

A restraining order is not off the table if the foolishness continues.

Jerks making anonymous calls to police agencies need to remember those telephone systems are all logged. If there's no criminal investigation involved, you don't even need a subpoena to get that information.

They also told the sheriff I didn't have electricity. Maybe because I close my drapes and don't have one of those stupid We're-Afraid-Of-The-Dark sodium vapor yard lights?

The dark is afraid of me.

Angela said...

I'm amazed at all the things people out there can report to the sheriff. Lawns? They expect the sheriff to rush right out there and start landscaping your property for them? Seriously, what did they expect to get out of that?

"Nor would I ever dream of justifying such behavior by claiming I'm somehow more entitled to own the property than they are."

Oh, I would love to hear how that conversation went.

"An anonymous call to the sheriff's office saying they need to check on me because I have VEHICLES and DOGS THAT ARE BIGGER THAN PIT BULLS."

Not bigger than pit bulls, anything but that! It's always fun to deal with people who learned about nature from Disney. I'm confused about the vehicles part-I assume people who live on 150 acres of land have their own vehicles?

Greyhawk said...

Wow. I'm stunned that this kind of thing still happens. I'm glad you have a good lawyer.

wrm said...

Heh. My father loves answering "I want to buy your place" with "Sure, 10 million" "You're crazy, it's only worth 1 million" "Hey you started the crazy"...

Hecate said...

I don't have a garage, so the vehicles are parked outside where you can -gasp!- see them. Apparently, the "right" kind of people all have garages. In this area, most homeowner associations forbid parking outside and having garage doors open unless a car is entering or leaving.

Or if you have 150 acres, you can park your car far enough from the road to avoid disturbing the busybodies' delicate sensibilities.

They said in their letter that the land "needs" to be all one parcel again, the way it was originally. Since my home was built in 1881, that stretches credibility more than a bit. They also said they would "take proper care" of the land, destroying those ugly woods that no respectable person would allow to grow.

Found out they were so confident I would roll over and sell that they already had plans drawn up to build a McMansion on my property.

Once the trees and bushes leaf out, pretty much nothing is visible from the road. I can't wait.

Black Ice said...

"The dark is afraid of me."

Best. Line. Ever.

And people wonder why I opine that it should be absolutely legal to set mantraps on your own property. I hope justice eventually prevails for you.

Toastrider said...

Traps tend to be indiscriminate. It's like the joke I heard once: bullets may have your name on them, but shrapnel is always addressed 'To Whom It May Concern'.

Not that the whole lot of fools don't deserve a sound beating. Hecate has far more patience than I.

Hecate said...

I may be patient, but I have a 1911 in Condition 1 on my hip as I'm typing this on my Droid with my feet up on my couch.

Anonymous said...

Too bad that the nasty people have to ruin it for the rest of us. In my neck of the woods, it's common for neighbors to keep an eye on what's going on. Many a time, my neighbor has clued me in that my Jersey cow had been running up and down the street kissing yuppies through the open windows of their Volvos. Yuppies really aren't happy when they get cow slobber all over their nice, clean car. I had no idea that I had accidentally left the fence unhitched. Neighbors also make sure that the elderly people living nearby are OK, and that their walks are shoveled after storms.

Luckily, most people don't play those kinds of busybody, intolerant, nonsense games in my world. No one has the time to waste on petty crap. It's mostly live and let live, and it works pretty well.

The yuppies down the street however are a whole nother kettle of fish. One asked me to bleach where my horse pooped so her children won't get some weird disease from my filthy animal. That was the funniest thing I had heard in weeks. She wasn't so amused.

WW Paul said...

I think I'd apply for a sub division to put in a trailer park.

I'd never do it, but I'd talk about it every chance I got.

Lelandwelds said...

Those well meaning people are just doing that for your own good. You are just being difficult. Aren't you just a weird little woman living alone? Conform! It's easier.

(My feeble attempt at sarcasm usually fails on the net.)

When I lived in the sticks, it was animal dumping and trespassers. Now that I live in the city, it is anonymous calls to code enforcement and animal control, etc.

I guess some things are universal?