Having great neighbors is a true blessing. Around here, we go to them for advice, as well as just an opportunity to sit and visit. All of our neighbors know they are welcome to stop by – even our neighborhood sheep.
It’s Only Fair
After all, my cows stray outside their pasture and end up at George’s. Pam’s cats know when breakfast is served in the barn, and ours know the sound of her truck coming home from work. It is a dinner signal to them. Max, Ayn’s Great Pyrenes runs to our house when it storms, and a couple of my dogs have strolled who-knows-where for their own visits.
Before You Get Upset
Before you get upset with this scenario, please understand. I am not advocating that livestock and/or pets be allowed to just run loose. But there are times when an electric wire goes down or breaks. Occasionally a pet escapes, or a hole is created in an otherwise sturdy fence and an animal slips through. For the most part, we keep our animals where they are supposed to be. But when they aren’t, our community tries to be understanding and accept it as part of living on a farm. When it happens, we are there to help get the animal back where it belongs.
Once Upon a Time
There was a time when barn raisings were a common thing. Neighbors would gather together to help a farmer build his barn. The sign of a barn raising meant that more people were moving into a community, which could give it strength as a whole. At times, a barn raising was done to replace one that was destroyed by weather or fire. Either way, it was considered a mandatory event, and if you didn’t have an extremely good excuse, you could be censured by the rest of the community. By assisting with one barn raising, you were assured that you would be helped in your own time of need.
Barn raisings weren’t just all work. They were also considered a Community Get Together. The women would gather to prepare meals to feed the workers. The workers would have friendly competitions to see who could work bigger, better, faster. The children would either help the adults or fashion their own games.
Take It A Step Further
I often think we need to take an old fashioned barn raising and extend it to other things. In order to keep Ayn’s sheep and goats in their pasture, the community could easily gather together and help her repair or rebuild her fence. She in turn could help another neighbor build a chicken coop or other structure on their farm. That neighbor could share the workload for a project on another farm. And at the same time, they could eat better than at any restaurant, and have a chance to visit with each other.
Personally, I don’t mind the sheep or goats at all. The weeds in the front pasture have been all but eaten down, and the flock left behind some great fertilizer in the process. Even though Max is no longer with us, I still catch myself heading out during a storm to open the porch door for him. And my appreciation for my neighbors who tolerate my own critters grows each time I get a friendly phone call giving me a heads up that my cows have once again escaped.
We may not raise barns too much anymore, but we can certainly raise a stronger community with just a few tools and a plate of sandwiches. Maybe it is something we need to consider.