CORNWALL — Our phone rang for the fourth time that Sunday afternoon, the same unknown number. Husband working the land, I answered, knowing it would be the same as the other three.
“Your cows on the 4th have no water!” a voice bellowed.
“I’ve checked, the tank is full and the pond is too. One of…..”
“Well, there is something wrong with them! Look after them or I will report you to the SPCA and they will investigate you!”
At the time we rented some land on that road and pastured open heifers there. For the fourth time that day I loaded the then small kids into the car, drove two roads down and checked them. One heifer with love drenched brown eyes met us and continued her soulful bawling, calling for a bull.
“Shut up you stupid animal”, I muttered, “Someone thinks you’re thirsty.” I rounded up the four kids and went back home. The next day the heifers came home. It wasn’t worth the hassle.
Such was my first introduction to “city slicker” logic. Admittedly, I grew up in the city but an ingrained love of farming taught me the basics long ago.
Over the years I have learnt that the city way of thinking is completely oblivious of the ways of farming and are often incompatible. With more and more houses being built and urbanites moving in, the number of clashes seems to be on the rise.
Naturally, when it was illegal to do so, someone from a town north of us was growing pot on several spots on our land. We had their ATV plate number but the OPP said they had to be caught by the police at the sites. Police even knew the culprits but could do nothing. We mowed the plants down.
Our cedar bush has been used as a cache for stolen goods by local kids. Found by our children, it was turned over to the police.
There have been too many loose dogs to count. A pair killed several of our sheep, including a purebred Ramboullet ram we just bought. Non-farming neighbours insisted it was coyotes. No. Other dogs have worried our heifers, chased bred heifers causing two to abort and chased others through fencing. To be honest, I would rather the occasional coyote passing through the farm than domestic dogs out for a good time.
Someone bought a home in the area thinking here he could leave his two big dogs run loose. After stirring things up with area farmers who keep cattle, his house is back up for sale. The country is not what he expected, apparently.
The patches of wild garlic on both this farm and our other one have been all but decimated by trespassers picking without permission. There is just one good-sized patch left at the home farm now. A couple of years back a car from Quebec drove in and asked if they could pick that patch! We can see it from the yard but how did they know it was there? We refused but they must have come back at night as the area was decimated.
Ski-doos, ATV’s, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, hikers, skiers, and snow shoers all seem to think that this land is their land. Twice ski-dooers have almost decapitated themselves because they didn’t know there was fence up around the horse field. Another almost drove straight down into a 14-ft. ditch at night.
A couple of times a pickup truck has driven down our lane, around the yard, behind the machinery shed, past our second barn and turned down to where the lane to the second farm used to be. A few minutes later they returned the way they arrived and left. Odd. They know where the farm lane goes but not the fact that we have blocked the old lane!
We have berry pickers and maple syrup tappers (they tapped some ash too!) as well as poachers after deer. A friend set up some trail cams with our permission but when he went back to check them, someone had taken them down, coiled up the wire and left them in a neat pile! A warning?
When our son’s fellow firefighters asked to use our bush for the first day hunt, a neighbour across the road called the police on them as she felt it was unsafe to hunt where she walks her dogs….. without permission! She thought the bush was unowned! Lady, every square inch of land out here is owned by someone!
We have found nails hammered into trees by kids building forts. Garbage and renovation waste has been dumped on an old farm lane (now closed off) and we found syringes in our back barn and empty beer cans and bottles strewn around. Kids have played with our land clearing machinery when it was left in a bush we were clearing and they drained out the oil.
We have seen people stopping in cars to pick our neighbours’ cow/grain corn cobs in the dead of night. What a disappointment that must have been!! We’ve seen people gathering barley or wheat stalks from others fields to make pretty door wreaths. Even here, people have parked at the entrance to our lane and gathered apples from the trees that line it. Our two Aussies stopped that practice!!
I am sure there are many other odd, curious or annoying occurrences that we have observed, but for now this is enough. If Doug Ford wants to increase the number of city people building and living in the agricultural areas of this province then maybe what we need is a new Bill to protect farmland and farms from urban residents.