I spent most of my weekend trying to keep myself out of prison. No, I didn't commit any crime, but I did have to talk myself out of destroying my neighbor and his ATV. Let me clarify something. I do not have a problem with ATVs or people who drive ATVs in general. I understand that ATVs come in handy for ranchers who have to haul feed to their livestock and drive around fixing fences. I also understand that ATVs are fun to off-road with. I don't mind if people take their ATVs to designated off-roading locations to have fun.
What pisses me off is when people race their ATVs around residential neighborhoods causing both noise and air pollution for the poor souls who have to live there. I especially do not like it when ATV drivers trespass on their neighbors' land and tear it up. And one way to really get my hackles up is to cut the fence to the bridle trails and race your ATV around an area that was designated and clearly marked for horseback riders, hikers, and bicyclists only -- not motorized vehicles. The tire tracks that are left behind by illegal ATV use on the bridle trails lasts for years. Nothing will grow where ATVs have gone. Not to mention that racing motorized vehicles around horseback riders can result in a potentially fatal accident for the horseback rider.
So, every time another person shows up in my neighborhood joy riding an ATV, I get anxious. My next door neighbor and I own pretty much the only properties in our neighborhood with four and five acres to them. Almost everyone else lives on one acre. That makes my property attractive to off-roaders. I often catch ATV riders idling on the cliff in my backyard, contemplating driving down past my No Trespassing sign into my arroyo to have some fun. My method of dealing with them is to walk outside, put my hands on my hips, and shake my head no. They then turn around and go back the way they came.
When you borrow nearly half a million dollars for a house on some land so that you can ride your horses there, the last thing you want is for the general public to take over the land doing recreational activities that don't mesh with horseback riding. I set up a large riding arena and round pen in my backyard, but I actually feel more comfortable riding on the bridle trails, because there are less people and no off-roaders there. When I ride in my backyard, I have to contend with Looky Loos and motorized vehicles distracting my horses, and trespassers spooking my horses. There are less people on the bridle trails than there are hovering around the perimeter of my property.
Anyway, back to my neighbor story... A few months ago we butt heads with some neighbors who had a party, got drunk, and allowed all of their guests to race their ATV around on our land in front of our house. My husband told them to cut it out, and they showed up on our doorstep at night to harass us. They did stop racing the ATV around, so I figured they came to their senses in the morning after they slept it off.
However, this weekend they had another party and once again allowed all of their guests to race their ATV around the neighborhood, only this time they were careful to drive right up to our property line and then turn around. They were still on my next door neighbor's land, but they know that house is vacant, so they think they can get away with it. While I appreciated that fact that they were trying to work with us by staying off our land, I could still hear that damn engine loud and clear, and had to keep the windows shut to keep the dust out. Every time they spun around at our property line, they'd create a plume of dust that floated in our general direction.
The engine was so loud that I couldn't believe that they were staying off our land, so I walked out to examine the tracks. Their old tracks from several months ago are still there, and nothing has grown over them, but I didn't see any new tracks on our land, so I decided to let them have their fun for a little bit. But then they continued racing long after dark. Still, I told myself this was only one night in my life, and I'll live as long as they let me get some sleep.
Nope. They kept racing past my bedtime. I laid there plotting out how to disable their ATV to keep myself entertained while I was unable to sleep. They finally passed out and restored quiet to the neighborhood, only to wake people up before 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning by starting it up all over again.
It was clear that I wasn't going to be able to enjoy the cooler temps for long, because other people were out spreading their wings after months of summer cabin fever. A second ATV showed up at the back of our property and turned around and around and around there repeatedly. Then I spotted a man and woman standing on the side of the cliff in my backyard staring at my house. They drove the same type of vehicle as the neighbor with the ATV and left it parked at the top of the hill. I got out my binoculars to assess the situation, but the vehicle was newer with darker tinted windows and I didn't recognize these people. The woman had a rope hanging from her hand. They just stood there for several minutes staring at our house. Then it hit me that they probably lost their dog, and the rope was a leash. They drove off before I could find out.
Then one evening I was hollering at the horses for causing trouble when they all spun and alerted on the driveway. I looked up to see two of my neighbors strolling past my house staring at me. I waited for them to pass, so that I could resume my usual interactions with my horses, who, by the way, do speak English. I know that other people think I'm crazy for talking to my horses, but, like dogs, horses do pick up on words and their meanings.
Anyway, those neighbors must have been hanging out in front of my house for several minutes, because they did not appear out from behind the other side of my house for quite some time. I figured they were spying on me. When they did appear, they proceeded to go into the front yard of the house for sale next door and walk around weeding or something. I'm supposed to call the police if anyone goes on that property without permission, but if I did that, it would be a full-time job for me between Mr. ATV and the nosy neighbors. I've made it clear to the neighbors who own that house that I'm not helping them anymore. Every time I have any contact with them, I lose several weeks of my life because the woman is a non-stop talker who keeps coming up with other work for me to do.
A few weeks ago an 18-wheeler tried turning around in front of my house when I was doing barn chores and I heard a crash. I went out there to see what he hit, but by the time I got there, he had driven off. I didn't see what he hit. However, I recently discovered that he must have hit a guide wire that holds up the power pole in front of my house, because the reflective tube on it was split open and lying on the ground.
Also, someone (besides me) did cut down the agave plant that was growing through, leaning on, and stretching out the power lines, threatening to take out power to the entire neighborhood, so that was a relief. I don't know if the power company did finally respond to my originally ignored report, if the owner of the property handled it, or if another frustrated neighbor cut it down. I talked to one of my neighbors and he said he had been worrying about it too and was wondering why no one was cutting it down. In fact, the nosy neighbors who seemed to be weeding the property next door are the ones who owned that agave plant, so you can see why I was so baffled over their behavior. They are always trespassing on other people's property to "manage" their yard work, yet they turned the other cheek when one of their own plants was presenting a hazard.
Ugh. People. It was so nice just dealing with wildlife all summer, but now I get to deal with people. Yay.