Monday, December 21, 2015

Remember to Cultivate Your Fine Neighbors

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    For most of the years since our graduations from college, my husband and I have moved about every four years.  New jobs, new opportunities and chances to buy or build a new home or acquire additional acreage were more common in the 80s than they are today.   In that time we had many different types of neighbors.   Some were good people, some mildly peculiar, but some were extremely fine people and we were better off for having known them and having had them  live nearby.  I have often said I could probably write a rather entertaining book telling about all the neighbors we have had in so many places.

                    Handling neighbors carefully and well is a skill that can take some time to develop. Whether we are neighbors on big acreage, or on stamp sized lots, the rules really are the same.   We should be on good terms with neighbors, and should avoid feuds whenever possible, although this might not be as easy as Mister Rogers made it sound.    We should also not fall into patterns of appeasement with them, as bullies exist everywhere, and some will walk all over us and our families on an ongoing or an accelerating  basis.  It's important to convey the limits and to stick to these.  For example, the neighbor who tries to borrow hamburger weekly, needs to be told that you need whatever you buy for your own family. He needs not to see a regular pay off in his borrowing with no attempts to return anything.    The neighbor who tells you you'll need to stock beer for him "now that he is your neighbor" needs to know that your cash is already stretched buying your own family's needs.  The family who tells their friends who are invited to a party at their place, that they can park in your driveway, need to be told politely that you need your driveway for your friends and for emergency vehicles. That needs to occur long before the sheriff needs to do it.   Set reasonable limits with people from the outset, or the chance will be gone, and no one will allow you to do this later, without trying to make you feel as if you have betrayed "your buddies".   The neighbor who "borrowed" your lawnmower in 2011, and never bought one for himself, needs to return yours. You might also ask him to pay for the oil, the tune up for it, and a spark plug. Strive for fairness in the beginning of the relationship with them.   Make sure that you don't set your self up in a new neighborhood as a parent, in a neighborhood of adults who behave like children mired in a history of poor planning.

                 As bad as neighbors can be out there, whether you are in the US, Canada, England, Sweden, Russia, Australia or anywhere else, let me tell you that there are also some great neighbors out there.

                 I have had trustworthy neighbors who watched both of our young children on short notice while we headed to a hospital when my husband's father was critically ill.  In another location,  I have had neighbors who checked the house daily and did all manner of things for us while we were away.  I have had neighbors who on first acquaintance, helped us unload the moving van the day we moved in.
 I have had neighbors who brought food and flowers when our youngest son passed away.   One neighbor plowed our farm roads for us one particularly snowy year.

              Nowadays, we live in a place where we have a number of neighbors who are involved in preparedness.   It is important that wherever you live, your neighbors don't know exactly what you stock or where. Even though they might never be a problem, they may mention something to a brother-in-law or other neighbor who may think nothing of breaking in to your place during the next hurricane.   It is enough that your trusted neighbors know you are a thinking person with an interest in preparedness.  They do not need the inventory of your supplies.    This said,  our farm is now surrounded by all preppers.    Some of them may be better prepared than we are.

             With all the cautions aside now, remember that the best way to have a good neighbor is to BE a good neighbor.  I don't mind teaching someone to shoot, or taking care of their horses while they are away.  I have changed surgical dressings of neighbors when they were discharged from the hospital, perhaps a little earlier than was wise.   I have checked on someone's house twice a day while they traveled to buy a secondary "Bug Out" location.   I don't do this for everyone, but for those we know well.  Our days of moving every four of five years may well be over, but one of the benefits to staying put is that around the nine or ten year mark, even those who are guarded begin to trust you.

This post is dedicated to my fantastic neighbor who died suddenly recently............He knows who he is, and I hope he knows how much we appreciated his being our neighbor.    May God bless his remaining family, especially in this first holiday season since his passing.