Our farm came with many surprises. One of them – we’re adjacent to development. Construction is in full swing. The old house and barn behind us are gone. ($16 Million dollars it cost to build that house. Gone.) That land is just so much more valuable as 15,000 teeny-tiny homesites than it could ever be as a farm.
I want out. My neighbors want to stay, this is home, they’ll plant trees and spend more time indoors to avoid the noise. The way zoning works here – our land can only be farms. We can’t sell to developers. We can’t add even one house here. But farming is – different – when you have 15,000 neighbors. That’s 15,000 possible vegetarians offended by our “exploitation” of animals, 15,000 possible idiots who think cow-tipping is funny or petting the pigs would be cute or – any number of stupid ideas. One little fence away from our land, all looking out at our farm (they’re “view homes” of course) and getting annoyed when our animals are noisy or worried when our animals take a nap laying flat-out and immobile.
The day they approved that development, they made our valley unsuitable for true agriculture. Fighting noise complaints about roosters is not on the Productive Farmers daily To-Do List. Urbanized people always think there’s someone to call to take their troubles away. Barking dog? Call the dog-catcher. Barking Livestock Guardian Dog? Call the dog-catcher, don’t get satisfaction, call City Council and try to pass a law banning LGDs. They approved development under the promise they’ll be “Homes of Distinction.” That means that, although the houses and lots are tiny, they have pretty kitchens and cost $400k++. So we’re not just getting saddled with tons of neighbors, we’re getting saddled with tons of neighbors who think they’re economically important, who think they have to defend their Property Values. And their Property Values are going to be a lot more important to them than our rights as farmers. No matter what the right-to-farm laws say.
Our roosters might be part of our chicken program, but our neighbors will surely value their sleep more than they value our roosters. I can’t tell them how many times development woke us up, tearing down old-growth trees or dropping 10-ton sewer pieces, so heavy they shake the ground 1,000 feet away. No matter how much we try to “connect” urban folks to farming – they still want it to be some quaint thing they visit and then leave behind when they go home. They don’t want it to be the soundtrack and smellscape of their Home of Distinction.