~~I started this post over a month ago and lost track of it (somewhere in the May/June yard work craze). Anyhoo, now that I have new information on the neighborhood, I thought I’d update it and share. Never a dull moment over here. ~~
Neighbors are so interesting, aren’t they? We have a unique relationship with our neighbors because they are right there- all the time. They see us at our best and our worst. At my old house, I LOVED my neighbor Marie, a woman in her nineties, she was a dear and we would always chat over the garden and exchange tomatoes and pears as the seasons dictated. And then she moved to a nursing home and I loved her family who took care of the house and prepped it for selling. I’d help them out by keeping an eye on things and they were sweet and wonderful people to chat with over tomatoes. And then the house sold to the new people, who very quickly revealed their unpleasant sides. From the constant swearing, drinking, and raunchy music in the carport (right next to my garden), to their feral kid who left my gate open constantly, destroyed my rain barrel, and was a general nuisance. To the constant screaming at each other, the debate over when to call the police, and the chicken complaints. I’ve never been so happy to leave neighbors behind. I do not miss those neighbors.
My neighbor on the other side at the old house was a combination of a love/hate relationship. The husband was kind of anal and would make annoying comments as though I’m an idiot (not particularly endearing). But I enjoyed watching their kids grow up, loved watching family kickball in the backyard, and thought they were good people who loved their kids. Although I avoided conversation after awhile when he treated me like an idiot. We weren’t friends but we were on reasonable terms. Scott was pretty uptight about his yard and didn’t like dogs. He would edge my side of the fence if I didn’t get to it when he wanted it done. So there was always that sort of nagging feeling hanging over my head that I was keeping up to his standards or not. Mind you, it isn’t as though I neglected my yard, but my grass standards weren’t quite to his.
My current situation is awesome on the neighbor front. The people across the street are kind, wonderful people who are not pretentious about their yard at all (which makes the fact that they’ve mowed twice already prove how behind I am). We chat occasionally and I feel so blessed to be across the street from such great people. (I think I’ve mentioned before that they are my sister in law’s sister’s in-laws — so we are practically related).
Then there’s the house at the end of the road- they are actually built on a different road so my road ends at their backyard. I used to not see them at all, but now that I removed part of the jungle between us, I can see that they have a pile of old deck wood that I want to see if I can use (how does one start that conversation?). And my property only borders theirs at the far back of their yard behind their barn– so I’ve never actually met them.
Next to them is the guy behind me to the right who raises pigeons and has pigeon houses hugging the back property line- down the hill from me. I have been living in fear that Suzie will somehow get into a pigeon house and there will be mass murder. In the fall and winter, I waved and said hi to him while working out there and the owner just stared at me and doesn’t say anything in return. I didn’t know what the deal was. They are the closest neighbors to me but because their backyard backs up to my backyard, it isn’t as though we see each other on the road or anything. The pigeon people have a big, expensive looking house and big, expensive looking pigeon houses. They hire a lawn service. They also have a fabulous, impressive looking garden that I can see from my kitchen window. And it seemed as though they weren’t interested in being friends… until my big fencing day where lots of friends and family came over to help. So most of the day, Pigeon Guy (PG) sat on his deck watching Fiona and Lindsey clear brush along the line. Then I went back there to string line the path of the fence and he came back to talk to me. He’s all friendly and nice. Says how happy he is I’m putting up a fence because he worries about my dog. I agreed that she was a concern and that’s why I was putting the fence in. He tells me how long he’s been in the house (forever) and about the neighbors and the people that used to live in my house (a long line of unpleasant renters). He says over and over how happy he is to see someone living in this house and taking care of things. I can only see the roofs and skylights of the pigeon houses from my side of the world, so he invites me down to see the pigeons. Okay.
We come around the front of the pigeon houses and my jaw hits the ground. I think their coops are nicer than my house. Freshly painted inside and out, huge, well lit, with mazes of pigeon roosts… and the pigeons!!! PG is telling me he has 700 adult pigeons and 150 babies in that new shed he built “the nursery.” Jaw still hanging open. Honestly, I thought maybe 100 pigeons, because it seemed like a lot when I see his flock flying around and cooing through his yard. No no, 850 pigeons!! He tells me he spent over $100,000 building the coops and on the equipment and that it costs him $2,000 a month to feed them. Brain explodes. I’m just standing there staring at this massive collection of birds and the numbers are clicking away in my head. Amazing. I finally stammer “So… what do you DO with them all???” Meat? Send secret messages? Race them? Sell them? WHAT DOES ONE DO WITH NEARLY A THOUSAND PIGEONS?!? Without batting an eye he replies “Oh I’ve always been an animal lover, I like to just watch them fly around.” Me: “Oooo nice.” OH MY GOODNESS!!! He goes on to tell me that he used to have chickens as well but the old neighbors complained so he had to get rid of them. AND YET THE 850 PIGEONS WEREN’T A PROBLEM??? I will say this for him: he runs a clean and upscale pigeon hoarding palace. I can occasionally get a whiff of poultry when the breeze is just right but it is rare and not terribly offensive. He truly loves those birds and spends hours sitting on his deck watching them without his shirt on. And then this week, he had his handyman add another wing to the pigeon houses. That’s right folks, MORE ROOM FOR PIGEONS.
Last week, when I was working on fencing near our mutual line, he commented again that he felt bad I had to fence the line and that he was fine with doing it. I said at this point, the t-posts are all in, not a problem, but if it takes me too long, no hard feelings if he beats me to it. So last weekend Emmet and I drilled the holes for the brace posts and that was going to be my first line of fence to stretch (although I still wasn’t sure how it was all going to come together). Last night I didn’t get home until late, and when I pulled in, I noticed the brush pile in my driveway had been moved to the other side of my driveway. Strange. A little creepy even. This morning I got up and looked out my kitchen window, and there, gleaming before my very eyes is a 6 foot chain link fence all the way along our mutual property line. He indeed beat me to it. And I feel really okay with that. And this wasn’t a puny 4 ft fence like I was going to put up, but practically a jail fence at 6 feet high! No one is going over that to be sure. Well played, Pigeon Guy, well played.
On the other side of the pigeon people is a house that is also accessed from the other road. They have a dog. I only know this because there is a 2 foot gap in the fence and Suzie once popped over there and their tied up dog barked like crazy. I got Suzie back and added that gap on my fencing list. Most of their yard is in front of their house, so I hadn’t seen them back along our mutual fence line… until the fencing project. And now I’ve met them. The dog is Buddy, nice three year old golden retriever mix they got “slightly used.” The owner seemed really nice and talked about the coyotes and wild turkeys she has in her yard and that Buddy isn’t super reliable so she takes him to the dog park most days. Ah yes, thank you for reminding me why I am putting in a fence- because I won’t live in a gorgeous park like setting and still drive my dogs to a dog park to run off their energy. Anyway, they’ve only been in the house a little longer than me, but she also mentioned they are happy to see someone taking care of my place and that she fell in love with the yard though the house was too small to meet their needs.
Now we’ve come to the people directly behind me. They are a long way away because I have such a massive yard. I’ve now met the husband and wife at separate times and they seem delightful. Sadly I can’t remember the wife’s name. So at the beginning of brush clearing season, few weeks back when I was pruning a jungly mess of a grape arbor, she pulled up beside me and got out to introduce herself. So friendly. She said over and over again how happy they are to see someone taking care of the old place after so many years of neglect. She mentioned that they have a pool and I should feel free to come use it any time and then invited me to send Suzie over to her house anytime to hunt groundhogs. Very, very kind. And honestly, I cannot imagine a single scenario where I put on my swim suit, throw a towel over my shoulder, and pop over to use their pool. But the visual is kind of awesome in a ridiculous kind of way.
A few weeks ago (for several weeks), I spent a lot of the weekend brush clearing on the fence line and on Sunday afternoon was strolling along the line spraying the random patches of poison ivy we had uncovered. The husband was out and came over the meet me. Marvin was wearing a Walk for Life shirt, so he already seems like my kind of people. He was very sweet. “I’ve seen you over here working and working, it’s like the one woman show! We’re so happy someone is taking care of things but you have taken on a BIG project. Congratulations. I’m proud of you. I’m real proud of you.” Of course later I think it is kind of funny to have a person I’ve never met before tell me he’s proud of me, but I appreciate the sentiment and the support. Suzie (my constant shadow) was out and he met her and offered that she can come hunt at his house anytime, and that I should feel free to use their pool. Such generous people. I should have asked about outdoor cats, but the thought escaped me. And I’m not sure I want the neighbors knowing my dogs are completely undiscerning hunters. Ground hogs? Yes. Squirrels? Yes. Rabbits? Yes. Kittens? Absolutely. Sigh. Let’s get that fence up and not have them find out, shall we?