The Dairy Farm Adventures: Neighbors

Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2013 in Features

The Dairy Farm Adventures: Neighbors

by Lee-Rae Jordan-Oliver

Living on or around a dairy farm requires everyone to adapt to a variety of sights, smells, and sounds.  Luckily, we have neighbors who embrace the rural life and understand the complexities of a family farm.  The families living around us have played an integral part in the growth of our farm and family. 

Our closest neighbors, Clay and Tracy and their two children, live a half a mile to the north in a friendly Cape Cod house.   For the past five years, they have watched our herd grow from ten motley looking cows to over a hundred cows and calves.  On more than one occasion, they have come to our rescue.  One day, a moose plowed through our fence line, making an easy exit for ten cows and a handful of calves to go exploring.  Matthew called me while he was on the road delivering outdoor wood stoves.   He received a phone call informing him our cows were grazing in a neighboring field we didn't own at the time.  Sure enough when I looked out our living room window, all our cows and calves had disappeared from our pasture.  I called Tracy, and she came over and entertained our children while I herded the cows back onto our property.  Whenever I've called Tracy to go hiking with us, or to watch our children when something unexpected arises, or to enlist her family's help on a farm project, she has said “Yes.”     

To the south live our new neighbors, Zeke and Abby and their four year old twin boys and their  six year old son.   Over a year ago I learned a family with children the same age as my three children had moved to the area.  On a whim I stopped by one summer day and introduced myself.   Since then, Abby and I have taken our children on many adventures.  Being an outdoor enthusiast, I was thrilled to have someone willing to brave the elements and motivate our kids to be outside for fresh air and exercise.  Throughout the seasons, we have gone hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sliding, and swimming.  Embarking on an excursion is no small feat with six little ones in tow.  At any given moment, one or more of them is screaming, crying, or complaining.  Last winter we discovered Abby's twins and my youngest son loved to snowmobile.  The boys stopped fussing as soon as the snowmobile roared to life.  Using two snowmobiles,  Abby and I each squeezed ourselves onto a Polaris with our three little ones sandwiched between us and putted around our fields.  When winter ended, and we started hiking with the kids again, I would raise my voice to be heard above our squawking tykes and say, “Abby, we need a snowmobile!”  Having a friend to share the roller coaster moments of motherhood makes parenting youngsters easier.   

To the west live Lance and Nancy who own a Norwegian Elk-hound dog named “Misty.”  While I'm mowing the lawn or doing horse chores, our farm dog, Blackie, will sneak into the woods and cross a field to visit Lance, Nancy and Misty.  One minute he's dozing on the lawn, and the next minute he's vanished off the radar like the stealth bomber flying undetected.  He will stay in their yard until I fetch him, or Nancy brings him home.  Blackie's social nature has managed to connect us to Lance and Nancy who have been tolerant of their four-legged frequenter.  More than once, I have dropped off homemade strawberry jam or cookies with a note thanking them for being good neighbors.  In return, Nancy has shared some of her culinary delights with our family which have included decorated cookies and a decadent cherry cake with vanilla frosting trimmed with blue icing.  Receiving delicious surprises always brightens my family's day.     

To the east live Dave and Nancy who spend hours mowing twelve acres of lawn and creatively landscaping perennial gardens and annual flowers around their home.  Driving by their property, I often slow down to admire the colorful flower arrangements and their meticulously mowed lawn.  A few years ago, Nancy called Matthew at dawn and politely told him, “Your cows are grazing on our back lawn.”  I cringed at the thought of our 1,500 pound cows trampling and fertilizing their lush lawn.  Matthew found Bill, our trustworthy employee, and together they drove the cows back into our pasture and mended the fence.  Matthew and Bill returned with a wheelbarrow and scooped the manure off their lawn.  After this happened, the children and I delivered homemade strawberry jam with a note of apology attached.  Being retired farmers, they had a soft spot in their hearts for us as we floundered our way through our first years.  Our pasture is now enclosed with two electric wires attached to cedar posts, and our cows have not discovered “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.”              

I have provided a glimpse of our neighbors' commendable character.  In a world that can be cold and unforgiving, our family is wrapped in the loving warmth and kindness of the families living in our neighborhood. 

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