I set up an appointment for the horses to get their annual vaccines and dental work. Bombay and Lostine have been taking twice as long as the younger horses to eat their hay, and I suspect it is because of their teeth. Lostine can't have much more dental work done because she's had her teeth ground down as far as they can go and there's not much new growth at her age, so we are just waiting for her to get to a point where she can't eat hay, move her to mash, and then if she can't keep her weight on, we'll go from there. It's tough keeping senior horses healthy. That's why I get frustrated with the ignorance of people who call animal control whenever they notice a skinny horse. Yes, sometimes horses are neglected, but if you see other horses around who are a healthy weight, it's probably just a senior horse.
I was getting ready to head out to an appointment yesterday when I heard a couple of car doors slam in my driveway. I figured it was either campaigners or salespeople or missionaries. I looked out the window, but didn't see any vehicle. I knew someone was there, but could not figure out where they parked their car. Then I saw a man and a woman walk up my next door neighbor's driveway, look at the phone numbers on the "for sale" sign and call them. It turned out that they had parked as deep into their driveway as they could get, and hid their truck behind the tree on our property.
I figured my neighbor would call any second now and tell me to open up the house for them, but she didn't call. Then the couple let themselves through a series of double-locked gates along the driveway and in their backyard. They snooped all around the property and peered in windows. Normally, I would approach them and ask if they have permission to be there, but I had to leave. I told my husband about the couple, hoping he'd keep an eye on them so I could go, but he told me that there was a dark green and orange band of rain over the length of the freeway I had to travel. Right then the sky opened up into a downpour. I had to cancel my appointment, because our freeways and side streets often get flooded and impassable in that kind of rain shower.
My husband went out front on the porch to watch the rain, and the couple next door ran to their truck to get out of the rain. They spotted my husband on the porch and came racing into our driveway to talk to him. He had just dragged the rocks on the driveway to even out all the ruts caused by delivery men and to pull out the weeds, and these people messed it all up by driving too fast. The man hopped out and introduced himself and said he and his wife were looking for a place to retire. My husband was much friendlier than I would have been, because I was really put off by their behavior. Just because a house is up for sale does not mean it becomes public property and you can just traipse right past "no trespassing" signs and double-locked gates to check it out.
Whenever anyone looks at that house, it is my responsibility to make sure all the doors, windows and gates are properly locked when they leave, so if I had to go to my appointment, the property would have been in whatever condition the trespassers left it in until I would have time to do a walk-thru the next morning. That's why it is always polite to set up an appointment instead of just showing up and viewing the property without permission.
The man explained that they called the numbers on the "for sale" sign, but no one answered, so they let themselves in. (I later found out from my neighbors that they didn't even leave a message for them.) The dogs could hear them talking on the porch and were running around barking while I was trying to train them to shush up. Then my husband invited the man with the muddy shoes into the house to get out of the rain, and I had just mopped and vacuumed the floors. The dogs tried to run out the door, so I picked up Stewie, and grabbed Scrappy by the collar while my husband kept Midge at bay. The guy couldn't even get in the door, so he gave us his business card and asked us to let the home owners know they came by.
I emailed the information on the business card to my neighbor, she called them, and then called me and asked me to open up the house for them since they were still in the area. They were visiting from out of state. I could not have offered to let them into her house previously without her permission. The couple drove a white pickup truck, and when I walked outside to go open up the house, there was a different white pickup truck looking at the house. I decided to wait for them to leave, because I was afraid that if they saw me opening up the house, they'd want to look inside, and my neighbor doesn't like to just let anyone into the house without a background check. There are just too many people with bad intentions around here.
She has problems with people trespassing, dumping, vandalizing, and burglarizing her place, so in the past she has instructed me to call the police if someone is on her property without her permission, and I have done so when I caught a guy dumping and vandalizing. The couple who let themselves into her backyard and who inspected her barn, dog kennel and patio were lucky I didn't call the police on them for that reason. I knew they were just home shoppers, but still, who walks right into someone's backyard without an invitation, especially when all the gates are double-locked and there are "no trespassing" signs posted?
My neighbor asked me to put up another "no trespassing" sign specifically on that first gate. I doubted it will deter these types of people, especially since they already walked past several other "no trespassing" signs on the property, so what I did was tie the new sign to the gate in such a way that no one can open it unless they break the string that holds the "no trespassing" sign in place. At that point they are breaking and entering, which is even a worse offense than just trespassing.
Once the second white truck left, I unlocked the house, started walking up the driveway, and another white pickup truck came racing up the street and skidded to a stop at the end of the driveway next to the "for sale" sign. I thought it was the couple I was opening up the house for, so I started walking up to the truck. The driver then raced off, pulled a U-turn, and stopped on the other side of the street. I guess it was a third home shopper who was worried about a high pressure sale, so I went back to my house and waited for him to leave. The man who burglarized their house last spring drove a white pickup truck, so you can see what a state of confusion I must have been in.
I don't want to scare off home shoppers by approaching them like they are criminals, but my neighbor has instructed me to not let anyone onto her property or in her house without getting their names, addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers, and vehicle descriptions first, if she can't talk to them first. It's tough being a cross between a neighborhood watch leader and a real estate agent for her. If I assume that someone is just a home shopper, she ends up being victimized in some way. If I assume that someone is up to no good, I can potentially scare off home buyers. I can't really win in a situation like that.
The man had been telling us that he was looking for a quiet, peaceful place to retire, and when he came back to look inside the house, our neighbors on the hill were racing back and forth on a motorbike they had just bought, and a bunch of them were standing up on the cliff staring down at us. I wonder if that scared off the home buyers. I know I would not have bought my current house if that were going on at the time I looked at it. This makes the fourth neighbor to buy a new motorized recreational vehicle in the past few months, so the neighborhood is getting quite noisy. I wish they'd drive them in more appropriate places than back and forth in residential neighborhoods where the vehicles are illegal to drive anyway.
My horses were going nuts. First they were alerting on the strangers next door. Then they were alerting on the people on the cliff. Then they alerted in a completely different direction, so I went out to investigate what was going on over there. It looked like another neighbor came out of her house and was most likely trespassing on my property to go talk to the motorbikers about the ruckus they were causing. There's definitely a battle between the younger people who like everything loud, fast and dangerous and the older people who like peace and quiet in our neighborhood.
Anyway, I thought that all the snowbirds had left our area for the late spring/summer, so I was baffled by this sudden influx of home shoppers showing up next door. Then I picked up the newspaper this morning and saw that Forbes put my town in among the top 25 best places to retire in the country. Gee, thanks Forbes. Just what we needed... more people building more houses and taking away bridle and hiking trails in the process. The irony is that one of the things the article cited that made it such a good place to retire were all the hiking trails and recreational opportunities. What the article doesn't say is that the land those trails are on can be sold at any time to developers.
I'm definitely going to have to find some place off the grid when we're ready to retire. I was hoping for people to move in next door who worked most of the week outside the home, and who were also quiet and minded their own business. But it seems there are only two choices: I can have young, working neighbors who let their dogs bark all day and who like loud motorized vehicles, bonfires and pool parties, or I can have retired neighbors who are quiet, but who are all up in my business because they are bored and look to their neighbors for entertainment. That seems to describe the majority of people around here.