Posted on Mar 14, 07:14 AM
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Neighbors protest in the ugliest ways. Make too much noise, get a banging on the wall. Park in the wrong space, find a car in your space not long after. It’s tit for tat but because it’s personal, the whole exchange can get pretty heated; especially if you’re fighting fire and smoke. On one visit to a small farm we were confronted by a story we didn’t expect. Neighbors had set multiple leaf fires a few feet from an adjoining fence that pens baby ducks and chickens. The result was blinding, choking smoke driven by wind.
One of the good guys silhouetted in a dramatic cloud as he gathers up eggs for the day. A majority of the leaf fires were set within the length of the new pens where babies had to cower together which still didn't get them out of the line of fire. Wind drove smoke straight in and the neighbor continued to add leaves.
In some rural neighborhoods, it’s completely acceptable to burn trash and trimmings before a certain hour during months with historically ample rainfall. This small egg farm is in one of those neighborhoods. New pens for the baby hens (female chickens and ducks can both be considered hens) were months in the making. The farmer’s goal was to increase production for 2013’s Spring and Summer orders. During the Winter, progress on the new pens was slow and all the neighbors peeked over to watch the work move along.
With work done and half the new hens ordered and hatched, the project already has momentum. Food Newsie went to photograph for a story about what feeds our food? The conditions from the neighbor’s leaf fires were unlivable. The farmer’s fence is five feet inside the farm’s property line so it’s easy to work both sides of the fence without intruding on someone else’s property. The neighbor, who we’ve seen firsthand set one or two large leaf fires at safe distances, had no fewer than ten small leaf fires burning just four to six feet from the fence for about one and-a-half hours.
Even with This Author mustering all the objectivity available, the neighbor’s actions seemed nothing short of dangerous and flagrantly insulting. The challenges small farmers face are daily hurdles and number in the tens from weather to sick animals to predators and food supply problems. Adding the difficulties of contentious neighbors whose actions can harm and kill livestock, poultry or yield is tragic to see and very upsetting. There’s * always* something that can be done to meet your neighbors halfway; don’t be that neighbor and get involved locally to mediate flare-ups like this.
harebrained or harrassment? Time will tell… hopefully the neighbor realized that it was the wrong thing to do either way.
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