Sunday, August 14, 2011

Who came first - the farmer or the city boy?

We live out in farm country – our house is built on a patch of re-zoned farm land. The earth around here, if you can call it earth, is basically solid clay. Surprisingly, the local farmers manage to coax corn, soy beans and hay to grow in the fields that surround our home.

We have neighbours on one side, and a farmer’s field on the other side. Beyond the farmer’s field there used to be a small summer cottage that was sold a few years back. The new owners came along and bulldozed the little cottage and built a huge mansion on the property. The place is seriously huge. I’m sure three families could live there and never even see each other.

The farmer maintains a ditch along our property lines to help with drainage for his field. Every couple of years he accidentally clips our phone lines that are buried in the ditch along the road. It’s just part of life around here. It doesn’t really inconvenience me – I hate hearing the phone ring anyway and the phone company has never charged us to fix it because it isn’t our fault. We don’t get mad at the farmer because he is a really nice man and his employees are all very friendly and respectful.

Last year the farmer re-dug the ditches between our house and his field, and between his field and the mansion. I was home that day and went out and offered a couple of bottles of water to the tractor operator – he’s such a nice young man. We have planted trees along our property line and he is very careful not to hit them with his bucket and not to damage them (even though I am sure it is a pain – we never thought of that when we planted those trees when we moved here 10 years ago).

Now the city slickers living in the mansion didn’t take well to the work that the farmer had to do. At the back of the farm land there is a forest that drops off steeply down to a little river and apparently the farmer was not careful about the trees at the forest’s edge. Let me just mention that the trees in that forest are the farmer’s trees and it’s really not our business what he does with them. I am not saying that I don’t care if a tree is harmed, but if he wanted to he could bulldoze all the trees in that forest and there would be nothing we could do to stop him.

But city boy took a conniption and went out and started hollering at the tractor operator. I always try to get along with people and genuinely make an effort to start off a new relationship on the right foot. I guess Mr. Moneybags doesn’t feel that’s necessary. Apparently he even went so far as to call the city and complain.

Well, the folks working at the city misunderstood that he was ranting and raving about and somehow extrapolated that his neighbour was cutting down trees by the river. So the next day a van from the city showed up in our driveway saying they had received a complaint against us for cutting down trees by the river.

* insert surprised look here *

We didn’t know that Richey-Rich had mouthed off to the farmer and had called the city (we only found that out later). Anyways, the summer continued uneventfully, fall came, the farmer harvested his crop and the incident was forgotten.

This year, as always the farmer began the season by tilling his fields. For some reason he waited until the clay was really dry, and when he tilled the fields across the road he kicked up a very impressive cloud of brown dust. I was keeping an eye on him because our home is east of the field on our side of the road and I usually have to close all the windows when he tills next to us because we get a lot of dust from the prevailing westerly wind.

But he didn’t till the field next to us that day – nor that evening. He waited until the following day when the wind had changed direction and then he tilled that field for hours.

We didn’t get a speck of dust – but the mansion was cloaked in a gigantic cloud of brown dust for a few hours. When it was all over the mansion was brown, their cars were brown, their driveway was brown, the leaves on all of their trees were brown, their snotty mansion gate was brown and although I couldn’t see their in-ground pool – it was probably brown too.

You know there’s a moral in all this: That farmer, with the right motivation, is in a far better position to make our lives miserable than we could ever make his.

I wonder how long it will take the city slickers to figure out who carries the big end of the stick around here?

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