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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live alone on 13 acres of woods. My closest neighbors are a middle-aged couple with occasional extended family members. The husband grew up here; I moved in 10 years ago. I thought the neighbors and I were fine, though not friends. I wave when I drive by, we occasionally talk about mixed mail, etc.

Today, the neighbors threatened two mild-mannered contractors with a baseball bat. At the edge of their property, close to our property line, is an empty house site and the remains of a gravel drive. Two young, soft-spoken plumbers working on my house assumed it was an abandoned lot and parked their trailer there, without me knowing it. When the plumbers went to leave, the neighbors came out cursing, carrying the bat, saying to get the f*** off their property. One plumber asked what the bat was for; the man said it was to bash heads in. The plumber said he was just here to work on my place; the neighbors said I am "a pain in the ass."

Now I wonder if the same neighbor sabotaged my car. Three months ago someone came onto my property while I was home asleep, yanked two spark plug cables until they broke, and then closed the hood again so I wouldn't know anything had happened until I tried to start the car. The mechanic said the wires were yanked by a human, not chewed through or rotted. I suspected it was someone familiar with the land, since my house and car are hidden from the road, but I couldn't think of anyone who was mad at me. It would have been an easy walk for the now-nasty neighbor. Both the man and woman work on cars.

I can't think of what I could have done for them to call me a "pain in the ass," much less for them to have possibly vandalized my car. All I can come up with:

About 9 years ago: To get rid of the abandoned house next to my property, the neighbors set it on fire. The resulting conflagration attracted the attention of a passing Dept. of Natural Resources official. Unfortunately, he was my boss. So he mentioned me by name, said my property was at risk from their illegal fire, etc. I don't know if they were fined. They accused me of reporting them. I swore up and down that I didn't but I doubt they believe me.

About 5 years ago: I built a small house (I had been living in a trailer). The noise from the construction was probably annoying. It's possible some contractors parked in their abandoned drive but I told them not to, and when I checked the contractors were parked on my property.

Their property is very thoroughly mown and brightly lit; mine is woods and undergrowth and includes my former trailer, so they might think it's too scruffy. To see this scruffiness, they would have to walk to the edge of their property, about 400 feet from their house.

I've chatted a few times with the wife in the last few years and haven't sensed hostility. Last year I also told the husband about a suspicious car that seemed to be casing our road, and he was gruff but polite enough.

They're a large couple, often seen with beers, and the husband looks angry a good part of the time, even when he's just getting the mail.

Now what? My current plan is to let them cool off, then walk over tomorrow in daylight to apologize for the plumbers parking on their land. Depending on how they handle that, I'll ask if I've been doing anything to annoy them and suggest that if they have any concerns, they should tell me directly. I won't mention my car.

I also plan to call the sheriff's non-emergency number and add this incident to the car one.

As soon as I have the money, I'll have a surveyor come out to confirm the property line and then put up a fence. One section will probably be a board fence, so I don't see their shed and they don't see my scruffiness.

Does this sound like a sensible plan? What do you do when you suspect your closest neighbor has gotten nasty?

Thanks!
 

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Uber Tuber
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In the mean time you might want to install motion detector lights, and perhaps a game camera.
 

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Sigh. Try living in the suburbs. Some of the pettyness and nastiness around here would make your head spin. I agree with CommonTator. Put up some sort of camera so that you have solid evidence. Otherwise, continue to treat your neighbor with the respect as you have been doing. This neighbor sounds a little pyro so maybe you should go on pretending that nothing is wrong. I would skip the conversation about the plumbers. YOu already get the vibe that they were annoyed.
 

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I'm sure that they say the same things about you. Don't get mad but if you think they are doing something on your property then leave them alone and see that they leave you alone. It is very simple just do not have anything to do with them and usually they will leave you alone. If not then get a game camera and have them prosecuted.
 

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I would skip the conversation as well...it's sad to see people live with such anger...he may have broke the law using the bat to threaten, even if the trailer was on his land....we have laws here that address contractors doing their business free from harassment...but the enforcement is lacking...a normal person would have been civil in the first place...the plumbers caused no harm and would have moved the trailer if politely asked...they should have called the sheriff...but I am sure they did the right thing by ignoring him and moving on...

Put up the fence and know that they will most likely DIE before you....that's the way I deal with angry people...avoid and go on.
 

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Wow...sorry to hear your circumstances...sounds like you've handled things very well and plan to continue to take the high road and the right path...motion detectors and Infared game cameras (not the types with the white flash) might serve you well, as someone has already mentioned. I'd have a big dog with me...wish you well.
 

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I don't think I'd walk over and have a face to face conversation, it might put them on the defensive. Could you call and speak to the wife?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I'm glad to see so many people suggest that I skip the conversation. I wasn't looking forward to it. I'll just steer clear of the neighbors and quietly put up a fence.

I do have a motion-detector setup with a floodlight, but it apparently doesn't work in the cold, so I need to get a better one.

I also have a Great Dane, but unfortunately she slept through the car incident.

I've been thinking of getting a game camera to learn about the wildlife that lives in my woods, but it looks like I should point one at the two-legged wildlife instead.
 

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Uber Tuber
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In thinking about it, it sounds like the husband has some mental illness issues. He sounds violent and unstable, and the wife sounds scared and submissive. Be prepared to have to defend yourself. Document everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Common Tator, thanks for your concern. I've spoken with the wife before and she's very sturdy and outspoken. I can easily imagine her being the one who said I'm a "pain in the ass."

I just checked our county court website and found only a traffic ticket in their histories. So while they showed an unusual response to stress today, they haven't gone to court for anything violent. I'll focus on building a fence and a few other security measures and get on with my life.
 

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We have neighbors in an apartment below us (the joys of living in a college town). They too are civil at face value but my fiance swears they have keyed our cars, and they have recently started taking our parking spots when we leave to go somewhere. Now, they -were- told that they could have the front two spots of our shared parking area by the landlady (without consulting us, of course), but they never complained when we parked there before (usually to unload groceries) and I have always left them enough room... not once have they asked us to move or told us that they were supposed to have those spots. They haven't even told the landlady there was a problem as far as I know.

They have however proven that they won't come talk to us... the girl is allergic to cats and we have two of them. One night when my fiance was leaving for work a cat slipped out the door behind him and sat down on the neighbor's porch. Instead of coming and knocking on the door for us to get him, she let him inside her house (remember, she's allergic!) and then called the landlady to complain and told HER to call us. A few months later she called the poor landlady again complaining that there were cats on the deck (all of them strays) and that we needed to bring them back inside... didn't even bother asking us whether they were ours first, and we were home at the time. Our door is 7' from hers. It's not that hard to walk around and knock.

I suggest that when dealing with these kinds of neighbors you stay as friendly as possible until you have absolute proof that they are infringing on your rights or doing something otherwise legally punishable, and then smack 'em for it. You will not get anywhere by talking except letting them know that you are on to them, and they will likely decide that it's time to step things up a level in nastiness. If you want to go over with a plate of cookies and discuss things over tea like adults it is worth a try but I would not expect it to go well, sadly. :(

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all solve our problems like reasonable adults?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Rose, I think they're in their mid 50s or so.

Faerunner, I ran into the same thing when I lived in an apartment. I think some people prefer to get mad and feel put-upon.

Ed, flaming arrows would be great fun. I'm pretty good with a slingshot and can probably rig something up.
 

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Gefion's Plow
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I don't think there's any reasoning with those kind of people. They get mad for no reason and always say what's on their mind. They might've just said it out of anger, so like you said, let them cool down, but I wouldn't bother talking to them; irrational people always find something else to get ----ed about.

Yeah, I would definitely follow through with your fence plan and report them. Also find a way to lock the hood of your car, which ordinarily there is one on the inside.
Whatever you've done is minimal. Don't blame yourself for their stupidity.
 

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My first response would be get a gun. In Indiana you can get a Concealed Weapon Permit so I suggest that you do and go armed at home. I am armed even in my computer room and no body is threating me for any reason.
 

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Wireless driveway alarm, has a little base station you put in your house, beeps to let you know someone/something has set it off. ~$80 at Radio Shack.

Wildlife camera, with infrared flash so they don't know they are being photographed. ~ $80 and up at Wal Mart, Academy, Cabelas, etc.

Call police and make a report of EVERY incident so you have a trail of incidents.
 

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Whatever you do ... don't let their anger change your life....I would NOT get the alarms, cameras etc unless you are willing to bring additional stress into your life....they WIN if you do.
 

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We have a driveway alarm, $19 at Harbor freight. Works so well we sent one to my mom for Christmas. They last about 3 years then you get another. In the summer, we have one in the apple orchard so we know when the deer show up.

And I wouldn't let it bother you. We have neighbors who love us and neighbors who hate us, and hate everyone else. Why should I care what they think? My favorite hobby is smiling and waving when I meet them and if I can guilt them into waving with a grumpy frown, my day is complete.
 

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Gefion's Plow
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All this spy equipment, gun for protection, alarm stuff seems unnecessary. He's lived next to the people for ten years and they haven't expressed any problems to his face. I doubt they'll actually do anything. My comment on reporting them, however, still stands.
 
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