A Special Message To The New Homeowner
From The Farmer Next Door

May 2001

Welcome to the country!

I know you moved out here because you wanted to "get away" from the problems of the inner suburbs, because you wanted a quieter life, and because you wanted a safer place to raise your kids.

I know you purchased that particular home because it over looks my farm. But please be aware that a farm is a business. Now that you are here, don't tell me or complain to the county council that you don't like my equipment starting up at dawn. You did not move next to parkland, you moved next door to a business, and dawn is when farm business starts.

I am sorry that you don't always care for our "fresh farm air;" the smell of manure or fertilizer is part of the business, and, after all, you moved next door to my business.

Please don't honk at me and make rude hand gestures when your car ends up behind my thresher. I know that the equipment is slow and cumbersome, but that is just the way it is. Remember, you were the one who thought the narrow two lane roads out here were quaint and relaxing, until they made you late. If it is a sunny warm day, chances are, no matter what day of the week it is, we will be working, so I advise that you just plan for it.

I am sorry if you were inconvenienced by the dust blowing across the fields that summer of the worst drought on record in Maryland. I know it meant you had to dust your fine big home more often, and maybe power wash your windows and vinyl siding. But please understand that dust also meant my family had no income that year, so I may not be very sympathetic to your problem. After all, you purchased your home next to my farm, I did not locate my farm next to your home.

Please don't tell me I have to get rid of "my junk" because it spoils your view. I can't help it if your home overlooks the back of my machine shed where I keep an old tractor for spare parts. You knew it was there when you purchased your home, and you didn't think it devalued your property value then.

Please don't let your children "play" in my pastures and crops. "Open land" is not public land; a farm is not a park or a playground. Your children will have to "enjoy the country life" from your own back yard.

And please don't tell me or tell the county council that I need to erect costly fences to keep your children out of my pastures. Livestock are not pets, and I am not responsible for keeping your children out, only my livestock in. It is not my stock that is crawling over the fence to go play with your children. If you need bigger fences to contain your children, or if your children need better supervision, then that is your responsibility.

Finally, for those of you that own horses, I am glad you are here. You are helping to keep my feed store and tractor supplier in business, which helps to keep those products and services affordable for me. However, do not assume that you have the right to ride over my cultivated lands. My shimmering emerald fields are not galloping tracts; they are my product that I am going to try to sell so I can support my family. And if my woods have "no trespassing signs" posted on them--that means you too. Please learn my name and ask my permission before you assume you can ride on my farm, and if I perceive that you will be respectful and not abuse the privilege, I will probably grant it. If you ride only where I tell you to ride, and if you close any gate you open, and fix any fence you break, and let me know of any other problem you may have (in other words, if a herd of deer spooks your horse and you inadvertently trample a swath of my crop, let me know and work with me), I will probably continue to let you ride. If you don't respect my wishes, if your fun threatens my livelihood, I will have to revoke my permission.

You wanted to live in the country with a pastoral view of a farm. If you would like it to remain country, and you would like to keep your pastoral view, please don't make it difficult for me to farm. If farming becomes too onerous, I will be more likely to consider developing my land, and there goes your country life.

Sincerely,
Your neighbor, the farmer