I was reading one of my favorite blogs [e-i-e-i-omg] the other day and it brought to mind a very important but not often mentioned part of homesteading. Neighbors.
If your not out west in wide open, less populated country your going to have people next door and all that entails. Even in less populated country when your neighbors are seldom seen they can still have a huge impact, both good and bad.
On my old farm my closest neighbors were a mile away and I had three within five miles. We shared fences for the most part and that can be a trial at times but we usually worked it out. One of my boundary fences was with a neighbor who lived twelve miles away and checked fence rarely. Not a good situation. My Father always said "Good fences make good neighbors" and that old adage is so true, but there is a lot more to being and having good neighbors than that.
Tolerance and helpfulness seem to be two words that can make huge difference in how you get along. Fencing is a good start though.
First of all find out how the community your homesteading in works its perimeter fence requirements. I am used to a simple but effective method established way back when in country that was surveyed on a grid system. Sections of land, divided into quarter sections of land. On a square. This made it quite easy to see what part of the perimeter fence you were responsible for.
So let me explain or try to.
Standing in the center of the quarter section, face the south fence. The 1/4 mile on your right hand is your responsibility and the 1/4 mile on the left is your neighbors. This is what I am used to.
Here though a lot of people do not have perimeter fence and nothing is surveyed on a grid. When we started to look for land I was horrified at the shape of properties and how weird some of the perimeter descriptions were.
So we are going to have to learn what is expected of us when dealing with fences where we move.
We plan on introducing ourselves to our new neighbors as soon as possible and are asking about neighbors when we talk to the people who's land we look at.
There is a lot to learn from people who live in an area, they know the farm stores and services you will need and often have someone to recommend when it comes to things like plumbing and building.
I have always been willing to trade work and produce with neighbors. They often have things, skills or services to barter with. My skill set as a cattlewoman saw me helping neighbors a lot at calving time, pulling calves and doctoring. My tractor and post hole auger saw use with corral building and those helpful things got me help in return when I needed new metal roofing on the house or had the Dodge 4x4 stuck way out on the field. Over abundance in my garden got traded for things like baked goodies and the like.
Being a good neighbor means respecting your neighbors privacy and not forever hanging around or dropping by. Not that socializing is frowned on but there is so much to do on a homestead too much visiting uses up valuable time when other things need doing. Often visiting takes place at the feed store or maybe the vet's office or getting a tire fixed.
Evaluate what you have to offer your neighbors and be prepared to lend a hand if asked or if there looks to be a need. Keep your fences in good shape and your livestock home, not munching in your neighbors garden. A good neighbor is an incredible resource so take the time to get to know yours and know what it takes to be a good neighbor and be one. It will pay off in ways you have not imagined.