"In 2017 My True Love Gave To Me...
10 Friendly Neighbors"
(9 pounds of pickles, 8 fruit trees planted, 7 successful craft shows, 6 animal rescues, 5 rolling acres, 4 happy farmers, 3 playful kitties, 2 gay roosters, and a home of our very own)"
The people we've met in our immediate "neighborhood" could not have been more welcoming or helpful in the first days (and beyond) when we moved in. Leaving our old neighborhood was hard. We loved the people around us dearly. They are our friends, and have been so helpful in so many ways, from giving our daughter riding lessons, lending us a tractor, and watching the kids when we needed it...and that's just one family! Other folks gave us free reign to use their pool, free chicken coop fixtures, and the BEST Halloween treats always come from the country neighbors. I was nervous about our new neighbors...were they there seeking solitude, or were they of like-minded community spirit as we were? Turns out the latter has been true, and we are grateful.
Chris made a point to go around to every house near ours before we even moved in to introduce himself. We was welcomed and offered use of equipment and time from every person he met. In the beginning our fields were full of alfalfa, which needed to be killed and tilled to make way for a garden and orchard. One neighbor came to kill it using his ATV, and another came back 2 times for a stretch of 3 hours each time to till it up. Another household came all summer to cut the grass in the pasture and bale up the hay. In return, we gave them the hay to feed their cows. We've exchanged animal care so we could take vacations, which was really fun because in exchange for watching our chickens and cats, we got to watch and take care of horses! We even got our two kittens, Chlowy and Little Gray, from a neighbor who's barn cat had kittens. Chris helped pour cement for a driveway, and that same neighbor had trouble with his well only a week ago. The same guy who tilled our field hooked him up with barrels of water to get him through, commenting, "Hey, out here, we're all in this together". And he's so very right.
In the city, it can be hard to get to know your neighbors, and with everything you need within arm's length, you may not ever need them. But out here, we share resources, skills, and time to make sure everyone has what they need. If a trip to town can be skipped or a piece of expensive equipment isn't an option, someone here probably has what you need, and you have something, even if it's just a bar of soap or some homemade cookies, they will be grateful for in exchange. And, at the end of the day, it's just nice to sit around a fire with a beer in hand having a conversation with another adult person who doesn't live with you.
This particular area is so wonderfully appealing to us in other ways, as well. We have fallen into a community of hobby farms and homesteaders seeking to make their living from their home and property, just as we are. There is a lot of entrepreneurial spirit out here, from Yonder Way gift shop, to the Vino in the Valley Winery. Homesteading in modern times is a whole new concept, and with the access to the internet, it is totally possible to be connected with large populations of people without ever leaving your home. We share ideas about hosting live music, holding classes, and even hosting weddings and other destination events, making our neck of the woods a rural visitor destination. Of course, there are some in the area who are still seeking that solitude, but with a little strength in numbers, maybe we can come together to find common ground that's good for everyone in the community.