Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Just when I decided to take my mother up on her offer to pay for the wall between us and the next-door neighbors, complications had to arise. Nothing is ever simple. You may recall that last spring I was having problems with a family of strangers walking onto my property to pet my horses over the fence each evening. Their presence disrupted my ability to work with the horses and get them into their stalls for the night. I didn't want to be a shrew and tell them to get off my property, because they were just trying to keep their baby entertained.

They stopped showing up, so I figured they moved away. However, now that the weather is cooling down, they're showing up multiple times a day and in the evening. I can't tell you how many times they scared me when I walked into my backyard to do chores thinking I was alone, only to hear a child's voice behind me. The baby is a toddler now.

It's easy to say that they are not hurting anything, which is mostly true. However, they are robbing me of my privacy and I find it offensive when people just traipse up my private drive, which is clearly marked as private, to visit my animals without having the courtesy to ask for permission. They actually stand right between my "Private Property, No Trespassing" and "Private Drive, Please Stay Out" signs while they pet my horses. I guess they think that if they stay on the other side of the fence they are okay. Or maybe since they are distant neighbors they think the rules don't apply to them. The only people those rules don't apply to are those I specifically invite over to my place, or those who have to contact me in an emergency. I'm very busy and my chores have to go like clockwork, so I don't appreciate unexpected visitors -- unless they are willing to pick up a pitchfork and help out mucking manure or doing a few loads of laundry.

It leaves you to wonder that if a person will trespass without permission, what else will they do? Are they going to get so comfortable on my property that they start "borrowing" or stealing things that I leave out like one of my neighbors did years ago? Am I going to walk outside some day and find them having a picnic on my front lawn since they seem to think my property is a public park and petting zoo? (Yes, I have had that happen before. I've also had tourists stop in their RVs and let their kids out to pee on my property.) Or perhaps they might go as far as lifting their toddler over the fence to sit her on one of my horses' backs. That would be a huge liability.

I recently met with my new insurance agent and she explained that even with the NO TRESPASSING and PRIVATE PROPERTY signs around my property, I can still be held liable if someone comes on my property and gets hurt. The insurance company will pay up to $5,000 in damages, but beyond that the person would have to take me to court and prove that I was negligent. Unfortunately, we do have plenty of things a person could trip over on our property, and we like to let our dogs out off leash. They could bite someone. Because we own the road that leads to four other houses besides our own, we can be held liable if someone gets damage to their car hitting a pothole. Believe me, there are a lot of potholes on our dirt road, and with all the speed demons who ignore my 10 MPH signs, my husband and son have to get out there after every rainfall to shift the dirt around.

What this means is that I'm going to need to have a chat with this young family and I'm probably going to have to extend the wall around to the street side of my property. With the way this neighborhood is growing with multiple generations and multiple families living under one roof thanks to no one being able to find work, it's only a matter of time before more Lookey Loos start wandering up my private drive to visit my horses.

The mason came out the other day to take measurements and dig a test hole. He sent me two estimates: One for just the side of the property between us and the next-door neighbors, and one with that plus a wall along the road. My husband explained that the neighborhood's television and Internet cable runs right along both fences, which really complicates matters. When the company who put up our chain-link fence came out years ago, they broke the cable and everyone lost their television and Internet for several days. I can't afford to have that happen this time, because I need the Internet to do my job working from home and so do many others.

I had hoped they could just build the wall in front of the chain-link fence, but since the cable is there, they will have to rip out the chain-link fence and use the same holes for the wall. The demolition and disposal of the old chain-link fence is an extra expense. When all was said and done, the original $8,000 estimate turned into $10,000 and rings up to over $15,000 if I throw in the street side of the paddock. Neither my mother nor I can afford that even if we split the cost. This is an estimate using the cheapest gray blocks. I especially can't afford this now, because there is a good possibility I may get laid off from my job sometime over the next couple of weeks. Fortunately, my employer is thoughtful enough to give us forewarning when things start going south.

The other thing that bothers me is that this masonry company hasn't stuck to their word on anything. They took their sweet time returning my calls. If they said they'd get the paperwork to me in two days, they took four. They misspelled my name, screwed up my email address and sent the paperwork to someone else, and got my address totally wrong after physically coming out here and somehow finding me with the wrong address. I don't want to do business with anyone who gets that many things wrong. I can't trust them to build the wall right. So, I'm going to get a second estimate from another company. Unfortunately, I'm running out of time. They lay each block by hand, and we've got to get this done before the first snowfall, otherwise we'll have to wait until next spring.


fernvalley01 said...

I wouls absolutley get another estimate, this company sounds pretty poor. As to the people treating your home like a park, I have no answers. The farm I grew up on was eventually dsurronded by city, we found horses with thier manes and forelocks "trimmed , and once did catch a kid riding one of our horses with a dog leash! dog running along beside her! Lucky that she wasn't hurt , unlucky that there are so many movies/TV shows that romantacize "
Flicka" Now that the stock is with me 50 miles away, it is not an issue but we never really did find a way to stop the families from sending the kids to "play at the farm" my folks and uncles are still there on 11 acres and are fighting a steady battle . THey have a 6 foot wood fence on one side , and one of the residents found it nessesary to cut a gate! Dad went a little ballistic over that one , and they fixed it , but that is 1. I will never understand why people think that type of thing is OK

Breathe said...

Walls are expensive propositions, and your privacy is worth a great deal.

I continue to wish you could move to a place with less intrusion. I mean if $10k is the cost of a wall, then is there a way to put that toward land instead?

I'm sure you've thought this through six ways to Sunday, but with neighbors that bad it seems like it's time to move out.

The job situation sound scary - I realize you work in a highly volatile field, but still...

lytha said...

this post reminds me of what happened yesterday - the terrier lady said, "so why haven't you built your barn yet?"

i said "It's COMPLICATED!"

we've been given so much advice about how to do it right, and sometimes that advice conflicts, so it's a mystery to us whether we'll make the right choices or not.

then the money--they wanted 500 euros for a load of gravel and i am loathe to pay that much. but thankfully anja gave me a number of a local gardening/building firm and my man called them tonight and we got a better price.

so now there is another person telling us what we need to do and it's different too.

i'm worried we're gonna choose wrong and screw it up.

we still need to buy more stall mats for the bigger space, and all the geotiles for the area in front of the barn. that is a bill i don't want to think about right now.

i guess i shouldn't stress about building it wrong, it's not a permanent structure, it's a moveable thing actually.

but like you, the money issue is starting to snowball, so, this process is not stress free.

i hope you get your wall. and less instrusions from strangers.


Reddunappy said...

Finding them petting the horses once, would be at least a little irritating, but time after time in a marked private drive!! Geez people are stupid.
I went out to feed one night and found 4 20 something kids out in my pasture with my loose horses!!!!
There are two houses on the property and my nephew was having a party, their excuse was they thought the horses were his! Grrrr
I did chew them out as they exited the pasture. My horses are well behaved, but get cranky around feeding time and Emma would mow someone over! Why why why, that why we have so many stupid laws to protect stupid people, ((sigh))

Crystal said...

oh Man i hate stupid people. What is wrong with them thinking they can go on private property without permission???
Is there anyway you can build the wall yourself? Not sure if you can or have time to, but something to think of.
Good luck, sounds like moving is still the best bet for you though.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Here's a new one. I heard my dogs barking and went outside to investigate. Two of the neighbors' dogs had escaped and were trying to attack my dogs through the chain-link of my dog run. When I hollered at them, they turned and charged me. I froze in terror, imagining my legs shredded by their sharp teeth, and at the last second they turned and ran home. Where do they live? At the house where the trespassers who come up my private drive to pet my horses live. Next time I see them trespassing, I've got two things to discuss with them now. Not only do I not want them suing me for them coming onto my property when my dogs are loose and them getting bit, but I don't want to have to sue them for letting their dogs loose onto my property where they bite me. Why is it that people who are a pain in one situation end up being a pain in every situation? Once a PIA -- always a PIA.

To answer a few questions... Time to build the wall myself? I don't even have time to go to the bathroom most days. Moving takes money and we have no money. We're putting two kids through college.

KatyM said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you might be facing a lay off, too. I was laid off last week, along with 1400 other people in this area, and my husband got laid off today. It's such a small city, that nearly everyone is having to move somewhere else to find work - whether they can afford it or not. I pray that doesn't happen to you!

Although (on the bright side) I have more time for my animals now! Wish I were closer - my husband and I could build the fence for you!

Anonymous said...

The petting zoo thing is a problem for us too. Once a new neighbor brought his toddler into my barn, opened a stall door, and by the time I huffed and puffed my way from where I was fixing fence, said toddler was petting a breeding stalllion that hated strangers on the face. Another time I caught a mother boosting her @6 year old child over my 6 foot no-climb fence into a paddock of mares and foals. A paddock I did not enter without a whip in hand due to the over-protective nature of one of the mares. The mother had no answer when I asked her how sher expected to get the kid back out!

Anonymous said...

Just started readying your blog so I don't know what state you are in or the layout of the land but there are other options. One is a cheaper wooden fence and just set a highwire a foot or so inside to keep the horses from chewing. Another is to hire unskilled labor for the demolition part of it and/or hire people that are not with a contractor...I've done this many times before. Building a fence is not rocket science...

Also you need to go speak to these people politely and if you don't want to be harsh offer a time they can come and visit, but explain to them the liability issue and ask them to honor your signs.

Good luck to you!
Kimberly & Mystery The Morab

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

This is interesting... I just walked outside to pick up the mail and noticed that the next door neighbor to the people who trespass on my property to pet my horses is putting up a 6-foot tall wood fence in front of the chain-link fence between them, so apparently, I am not the only neighbor who has been having problems with these people not respecting boundaries.

achieve1dream said...

I'd call the cops or put up signs that say you will call the cops for trespassing. That is absolutely ridiculous! People need to get jobs or lives and leave you alone. Grr! I just want to come down there and be your personal security guard when I read stuff like this. You could tell them that they shouldn't bring the kids around because you like to sight in your guns and a stray bullet might find them! Only half joking because I know threatening people could get you in trouble. After having my goat stolen though I have absolutely zero tolerance for trespassing. When people walk their dogs past my property and the dog comes on my property (because it's offleash and is usually after chickens) I throw things at the dog. If it's on my property I had no issues throwing things at them. That gets peoples attention.