Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Never go thru a locked gate

Does everyone know Dairy Carrie? She has cows and is fun. The other day she posted a great link from The Farmers Wifee. It talked about the importance of not trespassing.

Seriously. Don't go thru a locked gate. Or rather, don't try and go around or over a locked gate.

This is such a great rule that it is a law. Yes, trespassing is illegal. And really stupid. The fact is, you don't know what you are getting yourself into when you drive up on someone's property. Folks who live out in the country either want to be left alone, have something to hide... or have livestock. All of those are good reasons for just staying off someone's property. No trespassing. It's a law.

I always think that folks know this but I'm always surprised at how many folks don't. Recently we had the fuel oil guy come out. They couldn't give us an exact day when they were delivering even tho we told the office several times that we have a locked gate and they had to call us.

They never called. The driver showed up, saw the gate was locked, and called his dispatch. To our utter shock the dispatch guy told the driver that if that gate was "dummy locked" that is, just closed but not really locked, to just go ahead and open it and go thru. We couldn't believe it.

Fortunately it really was locked and I was able to get out there to open it for him. But I can't imagine that this was an actual company policy especially with a bunch of rural customers.

But we've had all sorts of weird stuff happen - one time we had a car stop at the end of our drive and some gal jumped out and yanked out some of our ornamental flowers planted by the mail box. She didn't just take the flowers - she pulled out the whole plant!

Then we had some guy drive up in a truck wanting to know if I knew where Timmy's house was? First, stay in your truck, pal. Next, I'm not your friend. And all's you are doing in casing my house for future crimes. Who in their right mind would come down a drive where you can't see the house... just to ask directions to Timmy's? Of course the dogs kept him in his truck but shortly after that we got the gate. Now, for a lot of reasons, we keep it locked.

Now it's hunting season and it's even more important to keep folks off your property - and for you to respect the property of others.  Everyone has some story about some drunk, or stupid, yahoo who is tracking a deer and thinks they can just come across your field or into your goat yard to fire directly into your property. Not only is this a crime it's unsafe for everyone.

One day we went out for chores and someone was firing into our chicken yard! We had to scream at them to hold their fire. Nibbles could have been killed or worse. 

I think one of the drawbacks of the "get to know your farmer" movement is that some folks think they can just show up, randomly, to someone's farm and get out and look around. Some farms offer visits and open houses and that is super. We don't. No, you can bring your grandkids to come and play with the chickens. This isn't a petting zoo. Even if you are an adult and want to visit you still need Kevlar and a tetanus shot just to walk on our property.

We rarely have visitors on purpose. And when we do they always fall into the drainage ditch beside our driveway. It's stunning. We even point it out but there they go stumbling right into it. We never fall in the drainage ditch and we walk around here all day.  But that is the point of The Farmer's Wifee's post. Strangers don't know the property, the animals, or what is or is not safe to do, touch, or try and run off with. Go ahead and try and get that gander into a sack and make a run for it. You won't make it down the drive and you'll end up crying.

From time to time we have had worker folks, or that guy from the electric company, or the survey guys come onto the property. There is always a safety briefing. It goes like this:

1. "Stay where I can see you." This is also a command I have for the dogs. Unlike the dogs, visitors never listen and wander off. Then they always get chased by a goose. Seeing a grown man run from an overgrown duck is just sad. Especially if he is screaming like a little girl.

2. "Don't fall into the drainage ditch." They do anyway.

3. "I'm going to stay out here with you. I'm not supervising you but while I can call the dogs off I can't do anything about that mean turkey." They always scoff and then, predictably, there is some running.

4. "The electric fence is on so stay away from it." You an imagine how this goes. They always touch it. That fence will knock you senseless and leave a burn on your arm for 3 days. Don't ask me how I know this. But I'm pretty sure I had a cardiac event the day I was holding a metal tpost in each hand, stepped in a puddle, and touched one of those tposts to the live hotwire. I saw stars and then my jaw ached for 2 days. I think it may have sucked 2 or 3 years off my life.

5. "No, you may not meet my dogs." This one is always weird for me - maybe it's because we have working dogs and not just pets. Someone came here once and declared that all dogs just loved her and could she meet my dogsy-wogsy-woos?  No. No you may not. That dog doesn't want to be your friend. He wants to be my friend and the only thing he thinks about you is that you are standing too close to me. When we are off farm, sure, maybe in a controlled situation provided however you are not hopping around shrieking "It's so FLUFFY" in a high pitched voice. But mostly I don't understand anyone who runs up on a strange dog least of all one who is protecting his territory.

6. "Can I come to your place to pick up those chickens you have listed on Craigslist?" No. No you may not. We will meet you in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  Before we knew better we had folks come and pick up some ducklings. It was great! So easy! We didn't a thing about it... and then most of our turkey's died of the cocci. Since we didn't have a problem before we are pretty sure someone dragged it onto the property on their shoes or what not. So we don't do this anymore and some people do not like it. Some folks think you are trying to hide something or they want to see your set up to check out the condition of the rest of your animals.

But those days of picking stuff up at the farm are over. Not only is it, generally, a bio-security hazard but after the Craigslist killings in our state it just seems like a bad idea.

However, I guess if some wacko showed up here I'd likely be safe because he would probably get chased by that gander directly into the drainage ditch where he would fall into the electriec fence and then get flogged to death by that mean turkey. So I dunno maybe it would work out.

Whatever the case, just don't go walking up on someone's property. Mostly it's for your own safety.

Happy Monday everyone! Do you have a no trespassing sign up? Has anyone come on your property uninvited?


Heavens Door Acres said...

Yep. We have had a few instances here. Once, the dogs alerted me if intruders, I step outside, shotgun n hand, to see people by the barn, camera in hand, taking pictures of my animals. I ran up on them commanding them to stop! The look on her face was priceless. Imagine all 5 ft of this old lady, running up on you waving a shotgun and yelling "hey! Unless you want to get shot I suggest you back away" HAHA! She " just wanted pictures if the soft fluffy sheep" yeah well, not MY sheep! They left quickly.

David said...

amen sister!

Carolyn said...

Oh, that "No Tresspassing sign was for ME?"

I'm not tresspassing, I'm just walking through.

And my MOSTEST favorite, after running off people on OUR property (that just so happens to have a electric pole running through it) "It's an Easement, that means anyone can use it."

Morons. Law-breaking morons.

Amanda said...

I've fortunately never had that problem... unfortunately that's because I've never had property of my own. We're looking right now and the "must have" at the top of my list is privacy. I have nothing to hide, I just value my peace and quiet and privacy above all else. Imagine hearing neighbors tromping up and down the apartment stairs every day and night, hearing other people's vehicles starting up at all hours, neighbors screeching or banging stuff, loud partying, smoke wafting in through your open windows all the time, landlords "just happening" to be in the neighborhood and stopping by and you never have any say. I'm so looking forward to a few acres. I ache for tranquility. Yeah I know a farm isn't exactly tranquil but compared to what I've been putting up with for the past 7 years.. sounds like heaven to me.

I love this post and I'm in complete agreement with you.

Amanda said...

p.s. my current landlord mentioned he'd be letting a couple friends hunt on the land behind where I'm living, but it slipped my mind. Yesterday morning my dog starts barking from outside, and she almost never does. Once in awhile she'll warn foxes or cats out of the yard with a few barks but she's mostly silent. (Except the time a bear started wandering toward the house which usually smells like bacon. She sounded downright SCARY.) But yesterday morning she just kept barking and finally I woke up and went outside and saw the hunters walking back. She never barks at people, but they showed up when it was still dark and I was sleeping and my fiance out hunting, and in any other situation... well let's just say I was proud and glad I can rely on her to alert me to intruders while I'm sleeping. I know most dogs would do that but I've never had one of my own. I love having an intimidating alarm system.

Jeez, telling my life story much? Sorry. This post just struck a chord.

IanH said...

It's not being paranoid if they are really out to get you!

Unknown said...

Wow, that's funny. People sadly assume all kinds of things and sometimes aren't the smartest...

Vera said...

We have gradually stopped people coming on to our land to get to the beach on the river which borders one side of our land. A few weeks ago my husband had quite an argument with a man who wanted to fish off the beach, and told him that since he didn't go into the man's garden to do things, then he shouldn't come on to our land either. Putting fences up for the livestock have stopped most of the 'visitors' now, and having large hay bales stored along the driveway seems to have also stopped them. As for our rottweiller dogs......only a deterrent because of their size, not their temperament!

Cr said...

Oddly, our main trespassing problem was locals who felt that since they got to use the property in the past (it was unoccupied woodland), they should still get to use it for hunting - despite the fact that we'd posted it, built on it, live on it, and asked them to stay off it. It seemed that since we were the new folks, respect for property rights just didn't apply to us. Caused quite a bit of ugliness with the neighbors before it all worked out, and we're still not on speaking terms with some and have a fairly uneasy truce with others. Sad way to integrate into a community but then again, it's not like they were actually coming to visit.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

HDA - that is unbelievable. what if those people decided to feed your animals? zoikes!

Dave - people are very weird.

Carolyn - exactly. it's not a public easement..

Amanda - one of the weird things you find out is that sometimes folks think they can move out to the country and do "anything they want." but the hard thing is that sound carries, their loose dogs are not welcome, and hearing constant gunfire is ridiculous. the one thing we really really did wrong was buy a property where we can see the other houses. we should have gone for a longer drive and further away neighbors. :-/
ps i love your life story!

exactly Ian, it's all hilarious until junkies steal your generator.

yep its kind of disappointing, Nancy.

Vera, your rottie girls are perfect. it's a "thing" that black dogs appear more scary so that helps all the more. we also had to deal with "legacy" people on our property. as in "we've ALWAYS been able to *whatever* here! yeah.. not anymore.
:-/ i dont know what the trespassing laws are there - but you know we americans love our guns. in our state you can shoot someone on your property if you are in fear for your life. it could be very dangerous to just wonder around.

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