Good Neighbors

We live on a dead-end road that contains seven homes, a flock of sheep, a herd of beef cows, a herd of buffalo, eight dogs, and an unknown number of cats. Twelve adults and six children live on the road. Since we’ve lived here, three kids have grown up and flown the coop, and all three worked on our farm. (The six kids remaining on the road don’t yet know it—one is 6 months old—but we have plans to employ them all!)

This last winter (I’m speaking in past tense, as if the winter is over…please, God….) when Melissa was recovering from surgery, we leaned on a few neighbors and they didn’t fall over. This is the sign of a good neighbor.

Twice Lyle fired up his tractor, drove over, and gave our steers fresh bales of hay. Like he’d been doing this his whole life, he popped up the massive round feeder, rolled it away, and plunked down a 800-pound bale with his tractor. Melissa, myself, and the steers were very appreciative.

Just before Melissa’s surgery, we started feeding the young steers a bit of corn, since our hay wasn’t high quality and they needed extra energy during the winter. All we had in the way of feeders were four buckets. This worked for awhile—maybe a day—then the steers’ heads got larger and started getting stuck in the buckets. Or they’d bang them around until the buckets fell over, spilling the grain out of their reach. It was a noisy affair as the buckets banged and the cattle complained.

We asked another neighbor, one skilled with a saw and hammer, if he’d build us a feed trough using lumber we’d scrounged over the years. A few weeks later Alan built us a great feed trough, which we quickly installed. No more buckets. We just spread the grain in the trough and the cattle calmly eat it. The only sound is the snuffling of their big noses in the grain. They’re calmer. It’s quieter.


We’re having some of our fleece spun into white yarn, so the deal is that in exchange for Alan’s labor, I’ll give his wife Jaycee a few skeins of the yarn so she can dye and weave it. Alan’s not really sure how he’s benefited from this deal, but luckily he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t mind.

Another reason why he’s a good neighbor…!

6 thoughts on “

  1. We in the suburbs are so self-sufficient that we hardly know our neighbors—although I have borrowed various baking supplies here and there. I love reading your accounts of life on a farm (having already read the book!).

  2. I have to echo RuthieJ’s comment. We are doubly blessed to have WONDERFUL neighbors on either side of us that would literally do anything to help us out. Such a great feeling to know people are there for you.

  3. I grew up on a farm, and good neighbors are essential. They really came through for us when we suffered TWO house fires two years apart.

    Now I live in Minneapolis, and really work hard at creating good neighbor relationships. A block club and National Night Out are a great ways to start building community!

  4. Sorry about my delay in responding—I can now add computer issues to my long, long winter!

    Judybusy—two fires? Yikes. Enough already.

    Quiltarama… we ended up having to sell the pregnant ewes because we couldn’t care for newborns in the winter with our facilities. The 54 lambs are doing great—on our friend’s farm. We have some pregnant ewes left, so May will bring us some babies!

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