My plan to socialize Charity, the wild bunny, backfired. Last night I needed to sit down, so I fed her next to the horse trailer, while I sat on the step. My body had been feeling twenty years younger after two weeks of rest, but just after one day of doing barn chores, my arthritis came back with a vengeance and began locking up all of my joints. I sat beside her while she ate, and unbeknownst to me, a bully bunny was sneaking up on her from under the trailer. It popped out right beside my leg and attacked Charity. It was vicious fight. I was so surprised by it that I jumped up and screamed, scaring both rabbits off into the brush. They did not return to the food that evening. This morning Charity did show up, but cut a wide wake around me. Now she associates me with that traumatic event. She had hair sticking out all around her where the other rabbit bit and clawed her.
I also spoke too soon when I said that at least the trespassers are stopping at the edges of my property rather than just venturing through like they have in the past. Yesterday Stewie was growling at the bathroom window, which he usually did when my next-door neighbor was out there working on his well, which is close to that side of our house. However, I knew my neighbor was out of state visiting family for Thanksgiving, so I had to get up and go investigate. I looked through the tiny window, but didn't see anyone. Then I heard voices and hoof beats.
I went to a different window and saw two horseback riders in my back yard. I muttered something to myself about them being disrespectful jerks, and the man whipped around and looked directly at the window I was looking through with a nervous and guilty expression. He clearly knew he was doing something illegal that would probably piss off the land owners. He couldn't have heard me, so I think his reaction was either a coincidence or something telepathic was going on there.
I headed through the house to get my shoes, and saw through another window that my horses were charging the fence to attack their horses. The riders made the mistake of riding too close to my arena fence. My horses are a lot like dogs in that they learn who is allowed to be in their space and who isn't. They both welcome the horses of friends and people who are friends and family, but they both will attack strangers, even if I'm not around to tell them if someone is known or unknown to me. If I ever hire a pet sitting service, I'll have to introduce the dogs and horses to the caretakers first or someone might get hurt. I suspect that the horses know when someone is trespassing vs. visiting via invitation by subtleties in their behavior.
I saw that the riders stopped and there was some kind of scuffle, so I rushed to get my shoes, worried that someone would get hurt, but they were climbing the hill at the back of my property before I could get outside. They managed to work their way around all of the tree branches we laid across the path carved by other trespassers. When that guy in the jeep got stranded in our section of the arroyo last spring and drove up that hill to get out, he destroyed all the vegetation growing there, so now there is an even wider path for trespassers to get up and down. We'd have to chop down several trees to get enough branches to block that expanse, but we're trying to plant trees, not chop them up. Unfortunately, that hill is too steep to plant trees on, and we'd never get a watering system to reach all the way up there. The wind just blew my cholla balls away, and they never took root because it's so rocky.
We've been talking about hiring someone to put up a complete fence, but that means having to battle the neighbor behind us over property line measurements. He's already made it clear that he thinks he owns several yards of what we understand to be our property. We've tried to get a land surveyor out here at least four times, but they won't come out if the owners have neighbors who disagree over the location of the property line, and our county is really bad about keeping accurate, easy to access records. Most surveyors don't want the hassle. When a land surveyor did come out to parcel off the property of the neighbors next door who have it up for sale, the neighbor behind me was standing over his shoulder watching everything he was doing to make sure he didn't place a stake too far onto his own property. This is the same neighbor who indirectly threatened me with guns. I suspect he has a reputation, so getting a local surveyor out here would be impossible.
Anyway, the woman's horse was struggling to get up the steep incline and I could see that it was causing an avalanche of dirt and rocks along the way, changing the topography of our property. When they reached the top of the cliff, someone came roaring up on an ATV, followed by a delivery truck and a mail truck. Their horses didn't even flinch. I wondered why they had to cut through my back yard if their horses were so dead broke. Why not just take the road home? The shoulder is plenty wide and they'd only have to go one block out of their way. I suppose I'd be more understanding of their trespasses if they had horses that were fearful of traffic, and if they were trying to find a quiet route back home.
My husband went out to follow their tracks to find out what route they took. They not only cut through our back yard, but through the back yard of the neighbor who is away on vacation. That neighbor has previously thanked me for closing off our property to hikers and horseback riders, because he was tired of them trampling his landscaping. The land around his house had to be raised and graded to make a flat foundation for his house, and the horseback riders were breaking that apart. We have the same problem down by the arroyo. Every time a horse goes up or down the bank, it makes us lose about a foot of stable land, because the dirt and rocks break away and fall down the slope. That makes us lose land that we could otherwise use to build or plant on, and it moves the flood waters closer to our house. He said that every weekend used to be like a parade coming through our properties.
Anyway, my husband found that one of the horses snagged its hoof on our above-ground sprinkler system and dragged the PVC pipe out of alignment. He tested it to see if there were any cracks or leaks. Thankfully, it wasn't broken, because the last thing my husband needs with his back pain is to be down on his knees bending over a sprinkler system to repair it.
He also saw that after the point where my horses were attacking their horses over the fence, they tried to cut a wide wake around them by attempting to go down a part of the arroyo bank that we blocked off with dead tree branches. We used to have a fence with a wire blocking people from going up and down that bank, but my husband took it down when he thought that the trees and bushes had overgrown the area enough that no one would be unwise enough to try it. When they saw they couldn't get down that way, they walked around this pile of dead brush that the tractor left behind when grading for the arena and barns. The pile of brush is right on the edge of the arroyo, so they must have ridden their horses through that snake pit. They are lucky their horses didn't get bit by a rattlesnake or scratched by all the thorns in that dried brush and branches.
Then they found the old trail down into the arroyo and took that, steering their horses around a chair I had set up to block and ward off trespassers and to give us a place to rest when we are working down in the arroyo to clean up trash and repair water damage. They would have had to ride their horses over a bed of river rock and boulders. It turned out that the last rainstorm had washed most of our tree branches down the hillside, so my husband dragged them back up and laid them across the trail. Hopefully, if these riders did not know that our property was closed, they do now, and they won't try it again. That had to be a rough ride for them.
I'm keeping an eye out for the arrival of a group of winter visitors who stay in a house two doors down from us, because they are brazen enough to actually clear all the branches off those trails so that they can use them. They have No Trespassing signs all over their property and no longer allow any horseback riders to come through there, yet they take walks on my property at least twice a day when they stay in that house. It's ridiculous, because we have No Trespassing signs up too, I've yelled at them for spooking the horses and causing me to nearly get trampled, told them they are trespassing, but they keep doing it anyway. What's even more ridiculous is that they have 22 miles of public hiking trails right across the street from their house, so why they insist on hiking in my back yard, I don't know. I'm determined to put a stop to it this year, even if I have to get the police involved and press charges. If someone stupidly stumbles upon my property and is regretful of their actions, I give them the benefit of the doubt, but these people have no excuse for their behavior.
I really don't care if I come across as being a big B or a crazy lady, because the pay off is so worth it. I love having my space, freedom, peace, quiet, and privacy, which I get when people stop using my property for their pleasurable pursuits. It's nice not having things stolen from us, not having to clean up other people's trash and horse and dog poop, and not having to repair stuff that they broke along the way. I like being able to ride my own horses in my arena and round pen without having to worry about who is going to pop up out of the bushes and cause me to get into a wreck. Those freedoms are priceless to me. I paid for them when I bought this land, so I should be able to obtain them.