Communicating makes good neighbors

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Change. Other than death, it is the one thing we can all guarantee we will encounter.
Social media has changed the world almost immediately.

How we communicate, how we think, and how we learn are all much different than how it used to be.
While I think it is great that in one post you can reach so many people across the world, it comes with its problems, too.

The worst thing is people no longer talk to one another.

Handling complaints

Our local soil and water conservation district receives many calls from landowners complaining of their neighbors. Many times they haven’t even tried to approach them or discuss things with them.

I think of how moving forward has caused us to go so far backwards. Back in the day, neighbors helped each other, talked to each other, and truly worked together as a community.

Now, they don’t talk and most times don’t even know who their neighbor is.

It is much easier to text or email someone than pick up the phone and talk to them, or make a personal visit.

The farming environment in which we live is continually changing as well. Public awareness of the environment and pollution has heightened, urban growth is spilling over into our nation’s farmland, and few people understand typical farming practices.

All too often people feel that lawsuits are the only way to settle these conflicts. Each of these conditions has an influence on the relationship between farmers and their non-farm neighbors.

Whether a family has been part of a rural community for generations or is new to the area, they appreciate the natural beauty and quiet that the country provides.

Understanding farming

Farming is a business. A farm may appear to provide a romantic or storybook lifestyle, but to the farmer, it is the family’s livelihood.

Nonfarm neighbors need to understand they are living next to the farmer’s home and business.

We are in the busy period of crop farming. There will be many pieces of equipment moving up and down roads. Farm machinery may be wider or slower than it appears, motorists should reduce their speed on hilly or curved roads, slow down when they see farm machinery on the road, and pass with extreme caution.

Many accidents occur each year due to drivers not being cautious, and can result in fatalities. Farm equipment can be noisy and cause dust to rise in the fields.

Farmers will be in the fields before the sun rises and stay out all night long.

There is a very small window available to plant crops as to ensure maximum production. If a neighboring farm raises livestock, there will be manure that can cause odors and flies.

Manure is currently being applied to fields to supply nutrients prior to planting, as well as to clean facilities while there is still open land to apply the manure.

Odors in the air will typically go away in a few days.

Be considerate

I know from experience that neighbors can be difficult. I recall the day we had a new family move into the neighborhood and instantly began complaining.

Our community is somewhat old school, having families that have lived there for two to three generations, and continue to want to know their neighbors.

One of the elderly women was very hurt when she made a common gesture of a wave or trying to visit with the new neighbor, and she was treated rudely and brushed aside.

The “lady” of the house drove fast, was inconsiderate of Amish buggies, farm equipment and children on the roads. She also complained of neighboring dogs as well as many other things.

Interesting enough, when winter arrived they had two snow mobiles and needed somewhere to ride them?
Perhaps being a good neighbor could have benefitted them after all.

They soon moved away.

Plan ahead

As a non-farm neighbor, be aware of the community you are looking to move to. Realize that at certain times of the year you may have to deal with odor, noise, insects and dust.

This is normally short lived. The rest of the year you will enjoy God’s amazing beauty of growing crops, new spring babies frolicking in the pastures, cattle and horses grazing, the smell of fresh mowed hay, and numerous other aesthetically pleasing sights.

Farmers should be courteous as to not apply manure to surrounding fields just before holidays or when they know you may be having a gathering or celebration.

They should have a good relationship with their neighbors and ask them to inform them when they are planning a party so manure hauling can be properly timed. The farmer should also be careful to not track mud and manure on the roads or if so do their best to clean it up.

Be open

Taking time to explain practices can often head off conflicts with neighbors. On occasion we have hosted an open house to all of our neighbors as well as other landowners that live along the path of roads we travel to get to and from other farms.

This allows neighbors the opportunity to ask questions openly and get a better understanding of how farming works.

Living together in rural areas has many rewards. Farm and non-farm neighbors can enjoy the country lifestyle and the new friendships that will be the result of understanding and tolerance.

Building strong relationships is the best way to create the type of community that we all want to call home.

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Cathy Berg, Program Administrator for the Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District for 15 past years. Bachelor of Science Degree from The Ohio State University. Major in Agronomy with soils specialization and a minor in Natural Resources Management.

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