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.
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.