As I was looking at my blog two things come to my mind. One, is though I have been writing things off and on since late November, especially starting at the first of the year, I have yet to write more than 30 posts. That seems to be just pathetic. Some of it is just getting busy with other things and yet some other part of are you write one entry and then want to hold off before putting another up so soon (at least my thought is to let the few people reading have a chance to read).
Second, I intended to post more about farming and issues related to that then what I have so far. Not for a lack of topics that come up in regards to farming and issues and such. I suppose it is more that I tend to think deeper thoughts in regards to farming and still often have mixed thoughts in regards to my approach to, outcome of, and general take on farming. Some small part of it is also the very seeming to be going against nature to use a computer to write about farming for other people to read instead of being out there enjoying the process myself.
So, one thing that caught my ear way back in maybe January or February was story that ran on NPR about a donkey that was getting its owners in hot water in court. You can find out some information by going to the NPR website and searching on braying donkey, but suffice that the following is the quick overview.
Peaceful small homestead valley somewhere in the West, zoned residential but most everyone who lives there on five acres and has some sort of backyard farming hobby. More specifically many of the neighbors have more than just a cat or a dog, but several apparently had chickens – including roosters, perhaps a few horses, and one neighbor had a donkey. Said donkey apparently liked to let out an occasional bray (that is the loud HEE-HAW sound for those of you may not know) that donkeys are prone to do. Apparently said donkey particularly liked to do this of an evening time, after it was dark. Everyone is happy, until some new resident who moves to the country for some peace and quiet, realizes the donkey doesn’t understand what that means. The new, unhappy neighbor, sues the donkeys owner, and the judge, unbelievable says that the donkey is an obvious nuisance and that land usage must be open to change and further outburst of the donkey if not removed could result in contempt of court orders.
Now, having been in a situation or two where I lived on what historically been farmland and was farmland on three of four sides, I can kind of understand. Granted, the particular situation I am thinking of had a subdivision the fourth side that had been there for 20 years or so, but it had built up by double the number of houses in the five years or so. The farmland on all sides of them had been historical small family farms of the type you typically see in Kentucky – a bit of tobacco to pay for Christmas, maybe a cow or two for meat and possibly milk, some speciality like maybe goats or pigs that someone was particularly interested, a small plot of something help feed all that, including some garden for yourself, a few chickens because fresh eggs are the best and maybe just maybe a horse or two. Today tobacco is all but a dirty word, even here in Kentucky. Cows make horrible smelling and icky poo. Goats and pigs, will they smell and can get out and can be noisy too – not to mention what is up with the goats peeing on their heads? Garden isn’t so bad, but you should just give the extra to your neighbor that is complaining about your stuff instead of wanting a little compensation for or instead wanting to feed the extra to the pigs, right? And what about the chickens, don’t they know what day light savings time is, much less that Saturday and Sunday are especially sleep in days? And lastly, everyone loves horses, and there is nothing to worry about me three-year old toddler feeding them little baby carrots or how about this weed thing over across the road that may be poisonous?
Anyway, you get my drift… My next farm will have to be a larger acreage and I am just going to have to put the house right in the middle of it. This is one thing that I go around some in my head about – as a lot of Agrarians argue that agriculture means you have to include your none agriculture based neighbors. I suppose in the way of having someone to sell you special niche items to as a small farmer that is in some ways true. However, I would rather they stay in the city or at least in suburbia and let me come to them with what I have to sell them once a week or so. Social interaction at its best – on very small time slots and involving the positive exchange of dollars.
Well, I am getting way off the subject here. To bring this back the valley community in question above is now having a form of waiver presented to and signed by any folks moving to the area. The waiver basically acknowledges that they know there are farm animals present and noise, smells, and other situations that we farmers enjoy and savor may annoy them. Of course, I personally just think that means they have one extra step in court before they end up the same place (see my future post about the family by a huge ranch with a conservation easement they are now fighting in court to remove). So bottom line is this, my dog doesn’t bark, and now that I am living temporarily at the end of a subdivision I think I am going to sue my two neighbors and indeed my roommate for dogs barking and disturbing, especially every time I get in and out of my car.
** – Originally published on Mephistos on 8th of May, 2008.