I wrote yesterday about the good neighbors and friends who can be all around us, willing to lend a helping hand when needed. Those are the kinds of people I like to write about the most.
Unfortunately, there’s another side of the coin. Yes, there are bad neighbors out there as well, and I’m sure we’ve all run into them. They’re the ones who seem to feel they shouldn’t have to lift a finger to help, no matter what the situation might involve — even if they’re the reason the situation exists in the first place.
My lovely wife Amy and I are reminded of this often when she goes out to her friend’s property to work with her horses. We’ve known Amy’s friend for years, we’ve seen her go through some big ups and downs in her life and she’s seen the same out of us. She is a true friend, often willing to go out of her way to help others.
Part of how she helps us has to do with the whole reason Amy’s able to keep her horses in the first place, giving her the ability to live her passion for equines. Our friend has horse property she doesn’t even use, and in exchange for Amy keeping her horses there we’ve looked after her home and her pets when she’s gone on trips, or we’ve helped her with other things on her property.
Our friend has a neighbor to her west who’s quite the guy — he’s divorced, owns his own plumbing business, has his own horse property with a bit of grass pasture where he keeps a couple of horses, a mule, a goat, and a dog that wanders and loves to harass our friend’s chickens if given the chance.
At least once a week, the property owners flood irrigate their land with water from a canal company, and the owners have been advised to keep their water on their own property, not to let it run onto neighbors’ property. Our friend’s horse property consists of dirt arenas, no grass, so there’s no need for her to irrigate there.
Her neighbor keeps the grass on his horse property nice and green through flood irrigating. His water flows eastward across a slight downhill slope … right onto and through our friend’s arena, carving a trench through the middle of what could be a nice, big area for riding horses.
We’ve put a fair amount of work into that arena ourselves, clearing rocks and trying to level the ground where the trenches are carved by the neighbor’s overflowing water that leaves a pool of water and mud in the clay soil.
Amy’s started trying to soften the ground by having wood chips hauled in for the arena and spreading the chips out. Part of those wood chips have been washed away as well.
It reached a point a couple of years ago where I decided that if the neighbor wasn’t going to do anything to keep his water from eroding away our friend’s arena, I’d do something about it myself. Our sons and I dug a trench along the fence line, all the way along the west side of the friend’s property and down to the north property line where I cut out a place for it to drain into an open area.
Our work was all done by hand, with shovels and a heavy steel bar to break up the hard clay soil. We got it done and, for the most part, it did the job for a while. Our biggest problem was that there was just too much water coming too fast from the neighbor’s property, so over time much of that work has been pretty much washed away by further erosion with the trench getting almost completely filled in again by now.
The trenches cutting through the middle of the riding arena have returned.
Does our friend’s neighbor care? Not a bit. He has all the equipment he needs to do a good job of building up a dike on his side of the property, including a hydraulic shovel that could fix things up with very little time and very little effort.
If only he used them.
I’ll never forget the Sunday afternoon two years ago when I’d started digging out the trench along the fence line the first time. After changing out of his Sunday best and into his grubbies, the neighbor came over to the fence across from where I was working.
“So, how’s that workin’ out for ya?” he asked me with a sarcastic tone. I had a feeling he was being sarcastic because he’d had animal control officers talking to him around that time about a complaint they’d gotten about him not taking proper care of livestock on his property, he blamed us for making the call, and the only problem was that we didn’t do it.
“It’d work out fine if there wasn’t so much water coming over from your property,” I replied.
He looked up and down the wooden fence line that was along the property, a fence that was falling apart due to rotting and livestock chewing and jumping over it to get to the other side for free hay at feeding time.
“So, what can we do about fixing this fence?” he asked me.
“Well, it’s not going to do a whole lot of good to fix the fence until you do something about your water flowing over here because it just rots out the posts,” I answered.
He didn’t like that. He went on, threatening to just tear the fence down and leave it down with a bit of a threat to the security of Amy’s horses, to which I informed him that we’re friends with a good lawyer, to which he responded with a couple of choice F-bombs.
I’m a good-sized dude, and I think I could handle myself just fine in a fight, but I choose to use my head instead of my brawn. If ever there was a time I felt like belting someone, it was at that moment with that neighbor.
I’ve avoided him like the plague ever since. I don’t even want to get a close-up look at his face.
And now, here we are two years later, and our hand-dug trenches need to be re-dug. The neighbor’s heavy equipment sits there, idle, with work needing to be done. Oh well, it’s good for exercise and some sore muscles on my part. Once again, I get to work with either rock-hard clay or the muddy slop it turns into when it’s soaked. All because a good friend’s neighbor can’t be bothered to control his own flow of irrigation water.
Yes, there are good people in this world, neighbors who see a need and respond with kindness and civility.
And then again, there are neighbors like this one. Sad.
Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media
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