Friday, February 27, 2015

Good Neighbors...a Homestead Must

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.


  1. Sage advice, Fiona.You can't beat having a good neighbor, and there is not much worse than a bad one. So, how do we see ourselves? Good point.


  2. My virus software said there is a virus called SWF/agent.Al on your blog and removed it.

    1. Thank you for the heads is odd as i had just increased my security. Everytime I do that or adjust things on this blog I get security issues?
      And you prove that you can have good neighbors online as well as across a fence!

  3. I think good neighbors are as important as having potable water! I had to laugh at your description of boundary/fence lines. There is nothing square around here. My property is sort of like a big slice of pie - that has been chewed around the edges! Having good fencing can save you so much heartache.

  4. Fiona - good neighbours and a good community are a must! we are fortunate to live in a great community of people who respect our privacy, never drop in unannounced (even though they are do-drop-inners!) but always expect us to show up at our community events with smiles and some sandwiches and then we all whoop it up at our dances. we are fortunate that they all accepted us so willingly, forgive us for our weird city ways and food but they realize that we have good ideas, will pitch in to help the community always and can be relied upon. we love our community.

    one of the most important things to consider, when choosing a BOL or new property, is to get out and meet the people in the community before making the jump. if the community will not accept you, you will be lonely, indeed. but, IMHO, if you show willingness to meet the community while considering a purchase of a property, the community will be very interested in getting to know you, too. get to know the community before you make the jump. and be willing to participate in bake sales, community events, dances, bingo, the volunteer fire department, etc.

    great post Fiona! much love to you and Ralph! your friend,