One of the greatest nemeses in my world is my neighbor. He is pretty much our polar opposite in terms of gardening and property management. We learned this almost immediately after moving in, when he rode his tractor over to let us know that he would be happy to mow our field for us in exchange for the diesel fuel. Well, we don’t really care if the field is mowed or not. In fact, we find that the wildflowers and natural cover help insects and critters do their thing. But he was persistent so we finally agreed. That was our first mistake. He mowed it; he also came into the yard and proceeded, on two different occasions, to mow down blackberry bushes we had planted, in addition to other non-food bushes and flowers that we planted because we like them. On multiple occasions we have emphatically asked that he not mow in the yard.
When we first tilled our new garden, first one in our relationship, literally breaking new ground for us, we went out after we had planted a bunch of seeds, and had put in some pepper and tomato plants to just gaze at our beautiful little patch of ground. Made more beautiful because it is ours and we did the work. We walked about halfway out to the garden, and my husband pointed- there, inside the garden fence were three wild rabbits. They weren’t eating our plants. Instead they were rolling in the newly tilled dirt, and racing each other back and forth across the dirt. They were jumping and frolicking and in general having what seemed like a really good time. They weren’t too worried about us getting close. I tell you that story to add to the neighbor saga. We like our little bunnies. We like them a lot. We like the birds that land on the feeders and chirp and chit at us that they are empty. We also have a huge pile of limbs and branches that the neighbor helped the former owner pile up in the field. Birds love it; rabbits love it; we don’t mind it.
Recently Nemesis Neighbor told my husband that we could set it on fire and sit in lawn chairs with shotguns and cap the bunnies that run out. To which my husband said no, thanks. We like the pile of sticks just fine.
He has offered to bulldoze our apple tree and pear trees. He has offered to mow down the line of saplings between the properties that obscure him from our view. He has offered to burn down the corkscrew willow for us. In short, the man wants us to have 3 acres of lawn. And anything that grows in it, he is more than willing to come hose down with poison.
After many, many, (endless) attempts to talk rationally to this man and explain that we like trees (speaking a foreign language there), that we like the bunnies, that we like the scrappy, scrubby, natural look of the property, we had to resort to insulting them on social media and not speaking to them. So far, that has worked. But we may also have identified a mental health issue with the man. We were weeding the garden and mowing our almost knee high back yard when we noticed he got on his riding mower and started mowing his yard. It is so short, it just kicked up dust. The next day, he had his grandson mow the exact same spot, kicking up more dust. We had to wonder if this was a manifestation of some “keeping up with the Jones’” mentality. If we mowed for 20 minutes, he had to mow for 45. If we weeded our garden, he had to spray his entire property. But it hasn’t been retroactive; the more we disregard the tall grass out back, the more he mows his yard and our field.
We have decided to fence the property. Not the most original idea, but as the saying goes, “fences make good neighbors”. Until next time…