Welcome

Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

August 26, 2011

Small minds just don't get it...

I refused to believe that I lived in that sort of neighborhood. That's really what it was... I just plain refused to believe it. All the signs were there - every home was, more or less, a copy of the one on either side of it. With their concrete curbing painting toothpaste like lines around very generic landscaping, a couple of decorative rocks on the grade up to the doorstep and the obligatory flowering pear trees in the mow strip. Lawns of the best turf grass that modern agricultural science can buy paint green in between the neat lines of the sidewalk, the white (don't go crazy with any of those WILD colors like beige...) vinyl fences and the obligatory side yard concrete garden for planting unused "must-haves" such as RV's and four wheelers. And yet I somehow still didn't believe that this was the type of neighborhood that could house people that would plain out just despise us for not fitting into their mould. Well, I was wrong.

Yesterday afternoon we found a neat and tidy little note left taped to our next-door neighbors bedroom window facing our house especially for us to read.
It probably should have made our mouths drop open, but it didn't. Not because we understood their position by any means, more to the fact that it didn't surprise us that these people would do something so frickin chicken shit as leave a sign up rather than to come over and talk with us.

Now, first things first, I don't necessarily mind the term hillbilly because, with a wife from the hills of West (by God) Virginia I have come to know many hillbillies rather intimately and they are among the finest people I've had the pleasure of knowing. My dear wife however does point out that she prefers the term Appalachian American particularly when Hillbilly is being used in the pejorative.

The light to which our neighbor refers is really a non-issue as well, let me explain. We have a back door to our garage that is far from any room of our house that an intruder or burglar could easily use to get access to the rest of our home. After having our car broken into right in our driveway, we made sure to have a light on above our back door as well. It's a safety issue that we are not willing to stop. We've explained to our neighbors that we are sorry, but we're not willing to risk having a secluded entry to our house unlit through the night.

The greater part of this was referencing our "white trash yard". Despite desires to expand our little "homescale farm" into our front yard we have opted to play along. By that I mean that we have maintained the "little boxes made of ticky tacky" appearance for the most part in our front yard as well.

So I could only assume it is to our backyard that they were referring. That and/or our side yard garden where we grow different crops from one year to the next. I was right.

My wife went over to talk with Neighbor "A" about this sign and was told that they just can't stand having to look at our yard. My wife was curious as to why of course and that's when we got the picture loud and clear: because we are different. Of course they didn't come out and say it in as many words, but it was damn near from what I understand. They were simply incredulous that would have the gall to grow corn in our front side yard
I really like it there honestly... and this is the worst it looked all year. We had been gone for a week and then I had surgery and was forbidden from working in the garden for another week and a half so there were some weeds, but really it is well kept up, it's just the fact that we grow food. Can you even believe that? They literally said, "Why can't you just be like everybody else? You shouldn't have moved to this neighborhood if you wanted to live this way!" By "this way" I take them to mean keeping chickens and raising 800+ pounds of food from my gardens. To them it makes me and my family white trash to use our private property to grow and support ourselves with organic fresh foods from a backyard garden. If that's the case I can live with it.

The disappointing part really, is not so much that these people don't like us, they're arrogant asses, I don't really care. What surprises and disappoints me is that apparently they've been going around and commiserating with a number of our other neighbors and it's almost unanimous that we are trashing up their neighborhood with our gardens and our crazy out of the box thinking!! I just refused to believe the stories about neighborhoods that were so close minded that a person was ridiculed for taking care of his family or daring to rely more on their own efforts.

So far the list of complaints as we understand them are our corn, our sunflowers (yes, they can't stand seeing the sunflowers in our yard and hate that they attract bees - isn't that kind of the point??), our gardens and our clothes line. All of which besides the corn are behind a 6 foot solid fence?!

It sucks to be surrounded by people that just don't get what we're all about, but then again they've never tried to get to know us either. It won't deter us though, we'll still keep on with our way of living and probably even expand it.
Say? How do you think they're going to feel about the two beehives we're planning on adding next year??

Take care all, keep growing your own and marching to your own beat!
P~

46 comments:

brendie said...

how utterly bizzare. dont yah just wanna stir the pot, put a sign on the front lawn, Naked harvest festival 10am next sunday, all welcome. who could hate sunflowers? you have very weird neighbours

the canned quilter said...

Hillbillies are great people and you can be my neighbor any time!

Paige said...

Inconceivable. I think it may be time to line the front walk (and I mean all the way around the corner!) with some lovely fruit trees.

I do appreciate how well you guys handled yourselves in the face of these neighbors. It shows the true character of a master gardener. :)

Farmer Pinky said...

If you would like I will send you pictures of my suburban homestead to show them. I have let wild blackberries take over my front landscaping and pulled out a good amount of lawn in the front for and herb garden.

Keep it up. As long as their are no covenants or deed restrictions in the neighborhood, dirty looks and mean signs are all they can legally do.

Sydney said...

You are MUCH more restrained than I am. I'd rip out the front lawn and plant a winter garden. Lovely rows of lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, peas.

Sorry you have to experience such nonsense. You are a trend setter. Keep up the good work. The bees thank you and your carbon footprint tiny.

Julie said...

And when you're ready to move there are a great many neighborhoods that would welcome, support and encourage you. And I can guarantee they are full of compassionate,bright wonderful people unlike where you live right now.

Lisa said...

Honestly, I don't see why they would complain about what is growing in your yard. Hopefully, you don't live in an area with a HOA that they could use against you.

As far as the light goes, my first reaction is to ask why do they care. Is it shining directly into a bedroom window? If so, I can see why they would be annoyed. (though the way they are handling it is childish at best.) I would keep the light above the back door and install a flood light on the front corner of the house by the driveway. Then I would put them both on motion detectors. That would give you the benefit of protecting your property without the light being on all of the time.

joe levi said...

Your yard is one of the nicer yards I've visited! I can understand frustration with the light, my neighbor leaves their porch light on all night and it comes in my bedroom window. I use a neat little gadget called "window blinds" to keep it out. Works for both of us. Anyhow, as a neighbor, I support you in your gardening and think your yard looks beautiful!

JoeTheGreenGuy.com

Sundari Kraft said...

Now you definitely have to "landscape" your front yard with a few tomato plants next spring. Completely, hopelessly ridiculous people. The worst part is that they wouldn't be mature/responsible/courteous and come over to have an actual conversation, or even write you a polite note and put it in your mailbox. They have to PUT A SIGN IN THE WINDOW. Ack.

TheMartianChick said...

Your title says it all... Small minds just don't get it! Until they do... With the price of groceries and the rising unemployment, they will soon be asking you for tips on how they can harvest 800 lbs of food from their backyard.

Wish you were my neighbor! We could swap knowledge,seeds and produce!

Frugal Queen said...

I am stunned, your neighbours are a bunch of what we Brits call Chavs or Plastics - they blindly conform to consumerism and are thick, common and ignorant. Here, we embrace 'green living' it's the stupid oiks that don't. Freedom from or freedom to? Free to do what? Follow the herd? Your society smacks of sterile conformity! My advice? Move to the UK tomorrow as an asylum seeker wanting spiritual freedom due to being persecuted!

Rabbitry Remarks said...

My neighbor asked why we have so many weeds! I replied they're merely plants that you're unfamiliar with - you know useful things like plantain, giant orange amaranth, dandelions, mint, borage, etc.

P~ said...

WOW!
Thanks for the positive support everyone. You gave my wife and I a great laugh reading them all this morning. You guys are the best and I'm glad to be counted among you!
To add to the narrative... We are NOT in an HOA. We believe in a persons freedom to their own land and that would have been a deal breaker when we were looking for homes. We have certain covenants as a city, but they are very limited. I worked (with Joe Levi from the comments thread) to have our cities chicken ordinance set in place before we got chicks, and our city just finished changing ordinances to allow for the keeping of hives so everything I do is legal! They can kiss it!
Anyway... thanks again for the support!

Erica said...

Is that picture of the pretty little house on the field of well kept green lawn your home? Is that the front face the neighborhood sees? If I'm understanding this correctly, they ain't got nothing to complain about. And corn = grass, so technically even that part is suburban-friendly. ;) Wowza. In your position, and assuming I didn't live in an HOA type community, it would be war. I'm talking plastic composters-lining the front sidewalk war. Good luck.

Peaceful Valley Farm Blog said...

I'm with Erica, this would piss me off so much that I'd have to expand the homesteading to the front yard! What douche bags! I admire your attitude. Grow on!

CW-G said...

I received a link to your Blog from a friend. We have chickens and a clothesline in the back, veggies and prairie grasses in the front. A few neighbors won't speak to us, but most will. I worry sometimes that the way we live is such an affront, not because I don't believe in what we're doing, but because I'm so concerned about the priorities of those who would keep us from doing it. Stay strong.

Maggie said...

Wow, what horrible neighbors. But, I do agree that a motion sensor might go a long way to mending the relationship. While I understand everyone's "now plant food in your front yard" reaction, remember that you do need to live next to these people, potentially forever, so having a positive or at least cordial relationship with them would make your life much better. Might I suggest sharing your bounty with them, giving them just-picked corn for dinner, or some preserved something, throughout the summer? Include a small card about the importance of bees and planting bee gardens, maybe with a packet of seeds. You may be able to turn them a little bit, make them more aware of their choices, rather than further alienating them. If nothing else, my dear mother always says "Love your enemies. It'll drive them crazy."

Sundari Kraft said...

@Maggie -- that's definitely one option, and to the writer of this blog, I say that if the "kill 'em with kindness" routine feels good to you, go for it.

However, another perspective... It's abundantly clear that -- for whatever reason -- these people have a lot of energy invested (crafting signs, talking to other neighbors) in you and what you do. Continuing to engage with them may just feed the relationship, and they may become even more convinced that what you do is their business and their concern.

Setting aside the outraged suggestions of folks (including me) to "get back" at them by planting veggies in front, it may be that the best option is just to withdraw your energy from the situation completely -- not to reach out and engage them in either a friendly, unfriendly, or passive-aggressive way. Live you life, and let them stew in their own juices if that's what they need to do. The good news is that what you're doing is allowed in your zoning code and you don't have covenants, so they have zero legal recourse against you. Let them simmer and gripe about how horrible you are, but that can stay on their side of the fence.

I have a personal experience of kindness being particularly ineffective... my next-door neighbor prefers more "conventional" landscaping and pets, and she brought me some (very mild, frankly ridiculous) concerns about my backyard chickens and dwarf goats. But, nonetheless, I responded very respectfully, and immediately made a variety of changes meant to address her concerns. I checked in with her to make sure that everything was fine now (she said it was), I gave her eggs, I gave her seedlings.... Only to then do have her go on the radio (following a public radio interview I did about urban homesteading) and tell the interviewer how horrible it was for her to have to live next to me. She also likes to write long letters to our City Councilmembers, again telling them what a terrible neighbor/person I am. So, I can see that all of my efforts to be kind and responsive to her concerns were completely wasted. In the end, she just doesn't like how I choose to live my life. It threatens her idea of how the world should be, and she can't handle it. So, I've decided to let that be entirely HER problem.

Anonymous said...

Paul I feel your pain. We have very similar neighbors next door to us who have the perfectly manicured lawn that is dripping with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We have a couple of families around that mow their lawns 2 or 3 times a week to keep that "golf Green look"

They finally put up a solid fence so they wouldn't have to put up with our, well kept but much less green yard. And you should have seen their faces when we moved the chicken coop in. Luckily our back yard neighbors have feelings much more like ours,they even got chickens this spring as well.

You should move down to Riverton with us, maybe we can start a whole white trash, hill billy settlement and drive the rest out. - Rick

P~ said...

@Maggie / Sundari
We have tried outreach in the past with these neighbors, offered veggies and such, but have been pretty much flatly refused. They say that there kids just won't eat them because they don't often use raw vegetables. (Honestly not surprised.)
Also, while we have gone through countless fine ideas in or heads about how we could "fight back" by farming the front yard, or relocating our composters under their bedroom windows or whatever, we would never do it. We farm our yard because we believe it is something we can do to save money, save fossil fuels and because it just seems like the right thing to do. We don't do it to piss off our neighbors and we won't start now.
Grow on indeed!

P~ said...

Rick, we need to keep our settlements separate so we can grow together over time and fill in the state!
Resistence in futile, eventually everyone will grow SOMETHING!

Anonymous said...

Paul,
You're probably right, maybe we can get a green strip growing from Southern Salt Lake county up to your neck of the woods. Although I'm not sure I'd want to eat anything out of most of my neighbors yards, I think any vegetables grown in their yards might glow green and have a half life of 10,000 years from all the chemicals.
Rick

Anonymous said...

As someone who has had to endure neighbor's lights shining into my house, GET A MOTION SENSOR LIGHT. Seriously. Having a light constantly shine is not only a waste of electricity, it is beyond rude.

P~ said...

UPDATE:
We made a modification to our light fixture this evening for at least the short term.
We placed a "blinder" on the fixture to block any light from shineing into their windows. We'll re-evaluate as we go.
P~

Phelan said...

P~ I will gladly send some pictures of my yard for you to share with your neighbor with our truck bed chicken condo and all those motorcycles coming and going, and tell them that I am looking to buy your place. That will shut them up about what white trash is. And then they should be grateful to have you as a neighbor.

Catcoco said...

My own mother keeps mocking what we do... She says that we should move to the country, far away from any neighbors, as not to bother anyone with our garden and animals. We do live in an agricultural part of a suburban area. My third neighbor has a horse farm. There is a u-pick berry and tomato and pepper and eggplant farm half a mile away from my farmette. And there are lots of regular, suburban houses and yards in between. My immediate neighbor just adopted her own chicken flock. None of my neighbors have never complained about any of our activities. If fact, most have complimented at one time or another... but the criticism I get from my family still gets to me. Of course, they also won't eat our chickens eggs nor drink the milk from our goats nor use the soap that I make :(

Anne said...

You are handling yourself exceptionally well.. saintly even.. which is much classier than your in the box neighbors. I wonder if they know that even the Rockefeller family grew their own food on their estates...

I'd be fighting the urge to line up hundreds of those mooning yard gnomes to enhance their view.

Well... just in case you need a gnome or more..
http://www.amazon.com/Cheeky-Mooning-Gnome-Garden-Ornament/dp/B001E0AQK4

Laurent Meillon said...

If my neighbor posted that, I would call the police, and enter a complaint for harassment. Lord only knows what these kinds of folks may do next, and I think it's important to establish that there is harassment going on. I would also signal to the police that these neighbors have been talking to other residents, trying to get them worked up against you. In a lot of cases, once hatred-based people like that see a police officer recording their behavior, it becomes clear to them they can't openly attack you without consequence.

Are the other neighbors also in line with the hate-monger sign-maker, or is the hate-monger an exception?

If they are representative, as upsetting as this may be, I would consider moving to a neighborhood which is more diverse and open-minded. I mean, do you really want to live with that kind of bad vibe coming at you 24/7 ?

Good luck. I feel your pain.

Wendy said...

What a nasty, little, spineless thing to do. Seriously!

I guess when food prices go through the roof and your neighbors get a little hungry, you don't have to feel guilty about giving them the old heave ho off your lawn :).

Dirty Brown Gardener said...

This is Utah at it's best and worst. Weird neighbors that want to hold to their beliefs and intolerance is why Utah was settled. I can only assume that your neighbors are of the predominant Utah religion. Just tell them that you are working on your food storage. In Centerville, you can have roosters until they are six months old, but that doesn't stop people from pouting.

I loved the comment about killing them with kindness. Go buy some corn from the corner stand, take it over to your neighbor and tell them that you grew it for them. They may back off a little and you don't loose anything...

Jennifer said...

I am sorry you're dealing with such cowardly passive aggression. Man! I commend you for your civility. These people obviously have WAY too much time on their hands, if they're worked up in such a state. Take heart, the new fall TV schedule should start soon. That, and the snowdrifts soon to come will make great yard equalizers. Pfft.

Seriously, though, I second Wendy's comment about what might happen if food prices go through the roof.

Damn The Broccoli said...

I'm truly appalled to hear this, I have always held you as inspiration for my own small activities in the UK. We thankfully don't have any real laws to contend with, but things can be done to stop people being a genuine nuisance. Fortunately my neighbours are impressed with what I am trying to do and coming along with me in some cases.

I recommend the polite indifference route. If they speak to you be pleasent, otherwise just get on with it.

Sure you don't want to rething that hillbilly commune thing? I have a banjo...

ChicagoMike said...

Hey Paul,

Your neighbors behavior is disgusting. And if they are whipping the neighbors up that's even worse.

I have to agree with the others on the light issue. The shield will help, but the motion sensor is better. I would also like to note that with a motion sensor you are more likely to get action. A static light does not draw attention and people close their blinds etc and stop looking. A motion light draws attention when it comes on at night and is therefore a better security solution.

And that green belt needs to extend east to Chicago.

Best Regards,

Chicago Mike

Anonymous said...

I liked your post - very similar to our situation. Our subdivision in Atlanta does not have grooming ordinances (I checked before I bought) but this did not stop a neighbor in good jest at a New Year's party (when it came to resolutions and wishes)suggest that perhaps Disney would screen its next Tarzan movie in our front yard. One of the reasons I bought some land north of Atlanta where I now do my organic growing.

Richard

Heather said...

I'm disgusted, again, that my old hometown has gone to hell in a hand-basket! Agriculture is what that once sweet little town was built on! My great great grandparents were the first settlers there and they had to survive so they planted a garden and raised animals, etc, etc. I'm sorry that it's changed so much. Keep gardening, it makes you happy and that's all that needs to be said.
Best Wishes!

Zachary Hollis said...

I find it utterly bizarre that so many "Americans" can turn their backs on their roots. Most people don't even know where their food comes from, how it is made, or what it takes to get it to the table. They have no respect for farmers, truckers, or anyone for that matter. Keep on keepin on!

Cynthia in Denver said...

First of all ... the sign is criminal harassment. They can be charged.

Second ... (I'm sure you've already done this)_with the other neighbors the evils are commiserating with ... take them some of the bounty.

Third ... go to one of the box stores, get some of the decorative window film (like stainglass decor since they are so high-&-mighty) and leave it on their doorstep with directions on how to apply to the window looking over your yard.

Fourth ... leave them a note to stop being peeping toms into your backyard ... the dirty little stalkers!

Moonwaves said...

Hope you haven't been having to many more problems with your neighbours. I did read this when you first posted but honestly I was so flabberghasted I didn't know what to post. Just unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Hi

Just found your blog today when searching for artichoke seeds , brilliant blog !!, maybe you should show your neighbours this web site

http://urbanhomestead.org/

Alan

mark sutton said...

only small minds are confident

Irishstars Farm said...

Having had a few similiar problesm in Virginia Beach, we now love our rural life in IA. As a certified bee keeper, might I suggest that you 1)be sure to provide plenty of small water sites for your bees so they are less apt to use your neighbors' pools, etc. 2) if you don't have a lot of plants flowering, that you provide pollen patties so the bees aren't as likely to "bug" neighbors, and 3) if feasible keep an "eppie" pen for allergic reactions of dumb neighbor kids that sit on or knock over the hives.... Just food for thought- the bees are sooo worth nurturing and will make the garden bountiful.

Anonymous said...

I live in Bountiful, Utah. The homes are a bit upscale and most of my neighbors really take pride in their yards. One of my neighbors with an incredibly beautiful yard has her garden beautifully placed in front yard. I've heard of no complaints. I've grafted bartlett pears to my flowering pear trees so I could have the best of the decorative tree and the fruit too.

Meme-girl said...

My sister has a saying... It's not very nice, but it seems to fit your neighbors - "You can't fix stupid!" OK - that being said - PLEASE continue to do what you do. No one has the right to dictate that we cant grow our own food - do they not realize the health benefits, and financial benefits of growing your own food. Some people are just "small minded" - oh well - ROCK ON! :)

Anonymous said...

I live in a neighborhood in rural Wisconsin where everybody plants a garden of some sort.

If your neighbor wants you to remove a neat well tended garden, then they should pay for the food that you are not growing.

That should quiet them down.

PS - The hideous green sign in the window looks really trashy.

mossy ranch backyard farm said...

Sorry about your neighbors, but your blog really comforts me. We have the same issues with our neighbors as you do. Over time & a couple bbqs some of them came around & buy eggs & veggies from us now.I feel defeated though when I go out front & my next door neighbor starts slamming stuff around & heads back inside, especially after I spent all day working in the yard.

P~ said...

I keep feeling glad when I see how we are just NOT alone in our plight.
Glad to say that we have taken our destiny into our own hands and are currently looking into better neighborhoods to live. God willing there will be the right house for us soon. I have faith.
Hang in there everyone dealing with bad neighbors.
P~