Grit Blogs > Folly Mountain Girl

Lovin' Thy Neighbor

Rima AustinMy neighbors hate me. I think it has something to do with my rustic way of living that angers them. I moved to the spot on the property where I am now almost two years ago, but I have known these neighbors my entire life. However, being a military brat, it wasn’t until I moved back to homestead the farm that they saw much of me so I can understand their trepidation when they saw what was moving in next door.

The real trouble started when my wayfaring dogs, not understanding the concept of boundaries, chased a rabbit onto their property. The rabbit got away, but by that time they were in a new land and decided to stay and see the sights. This gross invasion on their property by rogue canines was not to be tolerated so a prompt call to the local sheriff was initiated. The sheriff’s deputy came out, issued me a “Dogs at Large” ticket, and there was the beginning of the beautiful relationship I have with my neighbors.

Now please understand I did not come here to just rag on my neighbors, but rather to set the stage for the most recent development: a new rooster. Actually, two baby chicks, two new hens and a fat, red rooster. Some of you can probably already see where this is going. Obtaining the older birds was a last-minute thing. My cousin called me over the weekend and said she had two hens and the rooster if I would like to come get them. I said yes and I was stoked. Finally my dream of owning chickens was unfolding. But, being that it was last minute, I did not have a permanent structure for them yet. So, on Sunday, my daughter Heather, her husband Gary, and I spent the majority of the day constructing the hen house.

Baby chicks hiding 

They were scared and hiding their little faces.

Gary Berry chicken coop

Son-in-law Gary Berry and the coop.

Heather had a plan in mind of how she wanted the house built and since I really didn’t have anything specific other than a structure that would keep the varmints out, was glad to let her take over. Now, you are probably asking, what does this have to do with your neighbors’ animosity toward you? Well, that would be where we had to keep the birds while their quarters were in construction. The only place that I had big enough to house all three of them comfortably was a large dog kennel. I placed them in that with food and water and put a couple of bamboo poles through the back for the girls to perch on. Because the house was not finished and we all had to get up in the morning, I had to let the birds spend the night in the kennel. So I covered them up with a heavy quilt to keep the dew off of them in the morning and went to bed.

Chicken coop front


Chicken coop front and back.

At precisely 4:50 the next morning, the rooster did what roosters do best. One would have thought it was his job to announce the coming of the dawn to all of America. Now you have to understand, I have never owned a rooster before and was not raised around any either so when that initial “cock-a-doodle-doo” went off I bolted upright in the bed.

My youngest dog thought we were under attack and began barking furiously. My mind was flipping through the audio files trying to register what it was. Finally I found the file that matched and calmed down. Unfortunately, for my sweet Molly, she had no file and continued to bark madly. At this point all I could do was laugh. Then I thought about my neighbors. 

Big Red 

I call him Big Red.

Because their house is only 50 yards from mine, I know that they had to have heard this feathered creature’s reveille. For the next hour and a half, about every 15 minutes, he would go again. As I was laying there in the bed, listening to the mixture of crowing and barking, I heard sirens in the distance. My neighbors once again called the police and told them I was shooting at them (I don’t even own a gun) so it would not have surprised me if those sirens were for me and my nefarious animals again but thankfully, they were not.

I imagine, though, that the rooster incident did not make them happy with me. In fact, I’m sure it probably sent them right over the edge. So where do we go from here? I’m not really sure. I know my birds are not going anywhere. I have only had them a day and I already love them, I cannot say the same about my neighbors’ feelings for me.