Thursday, March 29, 2007

Field of Reams



U
gh. I am in such a terribly grumpy mood this afternoon that has me already feeling unneighborly towards people who aren't even my neighbors yet.

The reason? The field across the street has been sold.

It doesn't surprise me that it was sold, since the "Christian" neighbor who owned is in dire financial straits and has both local businessmen and creditors pressing for payment of his debts. (Advice for the day: If someone gives you his word as a 'Christian,' check his credit before you shake his hand.)

For years, the housing boom was confined to the eastern, coastal side of our county. Now, as people flee the high taxes in the nearby city and follow development up the Interstate, land values here on the western agrarian side are skyrocketing. Farmland is being sold almost as soon as it is listed and everywhere there are little white flags marking lots where future houses will sit.

My dim view of neighbors doesn't spring from general misanthropy, but from the knowledge that people who move to the country from the town tend to bring a town mentality with them. What they might initially find "quaint," - like the sight of working dogs and horses - will quickly get on their nerves and they'll start bitching about noise and flies. Then they'll start seeking to incorporate the rural communities (or run for town council if the area is already incorporated) and propose rules limiting pets, livestock or anything else they decide doesn't fit in their vision of New Suburbia.

If this sounds cynical, it's only because I have too many friends who have seen their rural corners of the world transformed by newcomers who move to the country not to enjoy it, but to change it. It starts with a field being sold and ends with a Wal-Mart down the street because the people now living in the field don't want to drive back into town to buy the crap they need to fill their new houses. Sure, all the development increases the value of rural property, but for people who appreciate peace, quiet and freedom it comes with a decline in quality of life.

Larry and I are already scanning the real estate ads on a daily basis, praying we'll luck into some affordable land somewhere, preferably enough that we will have a natural buffer against the encroaching cookie-cutter houses that will soon fill our side of the county. Hopefully we'll find something so we can continue to live in a rural area that's truly rural in every sense of the word.

22 comments:

CJ said...

I don't think there's much anyone can do about urban sprawl and no where you move will be safe from development. Do you know at what density the development across the street from your house will be? Maybe it won't be so bad if the field is being subdivided into big lots.

Morgan said...

I don't know, CJ. If each flag represents a lot then it looks like they'll be kind of close together. My biggest fear is that they'll stick doublewides over there, but Larry said he thinks there's a moratorium against more trailer parks so hopefully it will be for stick built homes.

CJ said...

If you live in a rural area who put the moratorium in place?

Lord Omar said...

(Advice for the day: If someone gives you his word as a 'Christian,' check his credit before you shake his hand.)

poke, poke, poke.

yep, god will not provide you with your mortgage payments.

Morgan said...

CJ, our rural community was incorporated several years ago when residents sought to block the corporate hog farms from filling it with piggy mills and festering lagoons.

Lord Omar, I agree that God won't provide your mortgage payment, but a lot of "Christian" bloggers out there have opened my eyes by expecting God to compensate for their lack of responsibility, whether it's trusting God to put food on the table when they refuse to work or deliver them a healthy baby while refusing to get prenatal care. Neither situation seems to have well for either of them. People that stupid deserve to be poked.

new said...

Storeowners know about the word of Christians (or anyone else who tries to their religious affiliation as a credit reference). They usually have a sign that says:

In God we trust.
All others pay cash.

Morgan said...

Amen, new.

Anonymous said...

Morgan I'm not trying to be argumentative but don't you think it is ironic that you don't want to see people bring rules to your rural area yet it was rules that improved it by keeping the pig farms out? Also, before your house was built I assume the home site was just farm land. So what is the difference between you and the people you dread to have as neighbors? Don't they have a right to be there too? I'm not trying to be rude. I really am just wondering if you thought through your comments before you made them.
God Bless You,
Margaret

Morgan said...

Margaret,
Please don't feel the need to apologize for questioning or even criticize anything I write. I think what makes this blog so enjoyable is the discussing our different opinions.
Now, to answer your questions:
Per the moratorium on factory swine operations, there are good rules and bad rules. The moratorium was passed by local residents who sought to preserve the clean air and water that is part of country life. The hog farmers were outsiders seeking to come in and destroy that quality of life. They did it in the neighboring county and our community saw the handwriting on the wall. We knew if we didn't do something then we'd end up with shitty-smelling air and contaminated ground water, too. So our community slapped a moratorium on factory farms before they got out of control.
Making rules to protect the quality of rural life is different than making rules to destroy it.
Yes, I did move here to the country and yes the land our house sits used to be farm land. But there's a difference between someone like me and Larry - who moved here because we wanted to live the rural life - and someone who moves to the country to escape taxes or take advantage of lower land values. These people don't often appreciate anything about the country beyond the savings and as soon as they get settled in they start trying to remake their surroundings into suburbia, often because they think they know so much more than the locals about how to "improve" life.
We didn't move here with those pre-conceived notions. When we moved here we knew we'd hear the baying of hound dogs, see and smell livestock and have neighbors who sometimes rebuilt cars in their front yards. We didn't decide after moving in that we should find a way to limit the number of hounds, horses or cars someone could have.
We'd like to think our new neighbors will be as understanding, but we have our doubts.

Jana said...

Here's another sign:
God helps those that helps themselves.
I'm sorry you're losing your space, and yes you'll hear bitching about the noise and the flies...but just do what we do.. turn up the guitar amps and play some JIMMY a little louder! Screwem!!!

Jana said...

Oh... and we have a pig farm out here --- stinky nasty place. You'd think it was RUN by pigs!!

thimscool said...

Greedy corporate pigs?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Morgan. Your answer helped me understand that people who move to the country aren't always motivated by the desire to live the country life. I hope any new neighbors you get will share your values. I hope you have a lovely weekend.
God Bless You,
Margaret

Morgan said...

Jana, I will take your advice and then sit back and wait for my new neighbors to push for a noise ordinance. :-)

Ha Luke. You stole my line. Dirty corporate pigs indeed. They've ruined the county next to us. No companies want to move into a place that smells like crap, and you can smell pig shit as soon as you cross the county line. It's sickening.

Margaret, I'm glad I could clarify. I can see where what I initially wrote begged clarification. Thanks for pressing me. :-)

Ayman said...

Allah is great

Morgan said...

It's all good here, Ayman.

JohnR said...

"It doesn't surprise me that it was sold, since the "Christian" neighbor who owned is in dire financial straits and has both local businessmen and creditors pressing for payment of his debts. (Advice for the day: If someone gives you his word as a 'Christian,' check his credit before you shake his hand.)"

How about a little context here Morgan?

What does Christian have to do with it?

That just read like a shot at the local fundies, which we all know you don't like.

mitzibel said...

Oh, Morgan, I ache for you. From your words and photographs, it would seem that you and your family have set up your own little rural Utopia out there in the boonies, something I confess to dreaming about *far* too often.

I remember when some folks "from town" (meaning an actual city, not the actual town five miles north) moved in about half a mile from our house, as the crow flies. We recieved a visit from the Banana-Republic-clad Missus, concerned that she'd seen our dog on her property. Does she have livestock? No. Chickens? No. Cats? Children? Has the dog threatened you? No, no, no, it's just that she doesn't like dogs, and they scare her, and could we please keep Bowser chained from now on?

It became a county legend, and more than one farmer dumped livestock carcasses in the lady's back field in the middle of the night, then they'd sit around with my dad and howl---the lady who's scared of a Chocolate Lab now has a field full of hungry, fighting, yelping and howling coyotes.

They sold the house within two years.

Morgan said...

JohnR,

When you see "Christian" in quotes consider it a clue that I don't buy someone's claim of being a true believer. If you truly know what I think, as you profess to, you'll know that I don't have a problem with real Christian minority, but the posers who spew fundamentalist dogma while privately exempting themselves from the requirements. They're like Al Gore who preaches about the environment while wheeling around in his private jets.

Sorry, pal, but if you're going to talk the talk you should walk the walk, at least for me to believe you when you start witnessing. And, no, it doesn't matter what you're preaching.

But for the purposes of this post, my neighbor preaches Christianity while simultaneously reaming everyone he does business with. No, I don't like that kind of fundie.

Morgan said...

Mitzibel, this place is crawling with coyotes, courtesy of local fox hunters who brought them in to train their dogs only to have the things escape into the woods. And I'm pretty sure if push comes to shove I can find a dead goat to feed them. Thanks for the tip. You are so awesome. :-)

Anonymous said...

The "less government" solution is to encourage those who sell the land to use covenants which restrict the future use of the property. Problem is that if I can get 2 million from the developer who will put in thousands of town homes or hundreds of McMansions or 100k from the non-developer buyer, the 2nd guy is going to have to make one really good argument or the neighbors will have to cover the difference.
--Invid
PS - I understand your frustration as I live in the burbs of Philadelphia which is a cross of upper middle class trying to control and change (ruin) everything (usually for the good of the children) and people leaking out of Philly to escape and end up bringing the worst parts of the city with them. As a bonus we also get a huge illegal Mexican population that has a "hate whitey" chip on their shoulder.
What happened to my home?
"There's pigs in the azaleas!!!"

Morgan said...

Of course you're right, Invid. The covenants would be the only fair idea but unworkable because the wealthy developers can always offer more money.
We have a growing Hispanic population here, too, by the way. Most of them are farm workers. So far we haven't seen the "hate whitey" mentality; most of them seem pretty decent and courteous in public. But the rougher ones are bringing a lot of crime with them and we've had quite a few auto accidents attributed to drunk Latinos, who apparently come here with no clue about our "don't drink and drive" rules.