Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Put yourself in my shoes

This is the text of a comment that I got on one of my recent postings.  I've thought about it for a while, and I'm curious.  How would you respond to this comment if you were me? 

"I was by today when I ran my animals and the stench was unbearable. I know you have pigs and pigs smell but the amount of rotten fruit in the knee high mud that the pigs are walking in is just rank. It never has smelled like that when I have been running the dogs before and I have been doing it for years. It seems like you have ALOT of animals (pigs, cows, goats, fowl AND dogs) in a small area. It's like a population explosion has happened or something! And the dogs are in quite a small area too... well hidden but still seen. I know I'm being nosey but I worry for them. They aren't yet meat on the table, so we all are responsible to question. "

Little background:   There's literally nothing around my farm for a half-mile in any direction.   I chose this property partly for that reason -- no neighbors is a good thing.  This person is walking her dog from wherever she lives to my fenceline, at least a half mile away. 

In addition, I got a visit from the snohomish county animal control yesterday.  Here's what went on. 

"Hi officer Barber!  What's up?"
"ah, it looks like your dogs need their licenses renewed on...  april 30th.  "
"oh.  Ok.  So i can do that anytime between now and may 1st and be fine? "
"yes"
"Is that the reason you stopped by?"
"no, we recieved a complaint that your pigs are in the mud.  "
"oh.  Well, it's been pretty warm the last few days, and the sows have been mud bathing to keep cool and for sunscreen, so they don't get sunburnt.  They  have those shelters over there (gesturing) and we put in wood chips every week so that they can stay dry if they want"
"ok.  Well, they look fine.  "
"Thanks officer Barber.  See you soon"

I know this guy by first name because I talk to him several times a month.  Snohomish county animal control must respond to every complaint that they receive, and each time they contact me. 

So.  What would you do? 

18 comments:

Ry Jones said...

Disable anonymous comments.

Emily said...

Move to Alaska. If you break down on the side of the road, the first car coming down the road stops. However, you don't drive down someone's driveway or invade their personal space unless you are invited. I can't imagine a neighbor complaining about stinky pigs or too many animals unless you lived in town or had seriously neglected or abused horses or something. Muddy pigs, hah!

Nancy Olympia WA said...

Yep - I would require folks to leave a name. I always thought you get a lot of those that want to express their opinion but don't have the guts to say who they are.

I know how you feel about someone walking by and not liking what they see.

I had posted over on the Collie site, that my landlord got a complaint to the county about my wet and muddy pasture could cause manure ladden water to run off the property into ditches on the side of the road that could end up in Henderson Inlet. Finding was NO VIOLATION at this time.

I'm waiting for a complaint about my horse and mini being muddy. (I can spend 2 hrs grooming and just as I'm turning my back to put brushes in a bucket, the dark things are rolling in the mud again.

Hang in there Bruce and know you have many supporters here.

You don't have control over what other people do or say but you do have control over how you choose to react to them. (this has served me well in dealing with an ex that wasn't so nice at times).

Mike said...

Tough deal. I think that the amount of anonymous comments you get is ridiculous. You post your opinions about issues that people don't want to hear about or disagree with. They hate that! But they are too much a coward to leave a name. What a bunch of whiners! I say you should keep the comments open for anonymous because we all know that people that talk crap with their keyboards and don't leave a name are the worst type of person. If you can't defend your words with a name then maybe you shouldn't say them.

Jenny said...

If they're going to report you to animal control, they're going to do it whether or not they can post anonymously about it. At least if they're posting (even anonymously), you have some idea who might be doing the reporting.

Not that it would help you at all, but I know my curiosity would get the best of me and I'd really want to know.

David said...

Sounds like this lady has been by quite a few times but only recently noticed the smell and the concentration of animals. Maybe there is some truth to her claim that it is stronger than it has been in the past. Perhaps you have more produce than you have had that the pigs are not interested in? Too much citrus?

When I get comments like that, it is easy to get defensive, even if going to animal control was over the top. If I were in your shoes, I would try to see if there was some legitimate truth to her claims. Sometimes no, but often there is a bit of truth, even if it is blown out of proportion. Maybe this is something that just added extra wood chips to the mud can help fix. You mentioned previously how the different animals preferred different produce, so another idea may be to figure out what is going to waste and making sure that the animals that prefer that produce get more time in that area.

wobbly.com said...

This isn't the first time I've been amazed at the stuff you have to go through. It is part of living there, I guess.

I'd invite them around for a coffee and show them the animals. If they show then great; if not then that info helps Animal Control know better the sort of person who is complaining.

Craig said...

Spread lime around,that will cut down the smell.

Nancy said...

How's the saying go... "Can't please all the people all the time, but can please some of the people some of the time"

As David mentioned, use it as an opportunity to check your situation, and if you feel confident that things are in good standing then I would recommend having grace for this person and their issues. You will probably not be able to satisfy them and it's not worth spending mental energy on. It sounds like the animal control visit served as added confirmation that everything is in good standing.

There are people out there who don't understand farming nor do they care for it. Seemingly they don't understand that farming is what sustains us, or they just want it to happen "somewhere else." You just keep doing what you are doing! I am not in a position to farm (maybe one day) and admire those of you who are, so keep it up!

goodnufranch said...

I would have to agree with wobbly. Education is the best policy. Invite this neighbour lady over for a visit, and show her around. Explain why you do things the way that you. Keeping in mind that most people are so far removed from the land, that they don't understand the hows or whys behind farming. Keep your cool, and engage her in a conversation.

Good luck

Cheryl

Danielle said...

I think David makes a valid comment. If possible rotate your pigs or keep them over winter when the smell isn't so bad. Maybe a little education for the commenter is in order. Invite them for a tour, remind them to wear their boots and address their concerns...if you have the time and desire.

Penny said...

Hi, MY NAME IS PENNY. And I did not report you to Animal Control. I CHOSE to write you on this blog. I have been bringing my dogs to the dog run across from you for years. That is why I chose to write to you here. There are others apparently that had the same problem as I or else Off. Barber would not have been called. That being said, I am a meat eater and enjoy my food greatly. I appreciate what you are trying to do BUT it still smells horrid and worse than I can EVER remember it. I do believe that I should question if I was concerned for the animals. If you have a problem with that I'm sorry but you'll have to deal with it. You seem to have a chip on your shoulder and seem to assume everyone is out to get you?? Not the case. Just looking out for the animals. Again the name is Penny. P-E-N-N-Y.

Anonymous said...

Having a name attached to comments left doesn't mean squat. One can very well still remain anonymous.

I am sure that this is not the first time some one has complained, or that animal control has come by for a visit. You have posted several instances of dealings with animal control, at least two instances of a pig getting loose etc...

I can only imagine the stench that permeates the air around your 'farm'. The pictures you frequently post of feeding produce (TONS of it at one time) themselves speak volumes to your standard of husbandry.

I agree with penny in that you have a serious chip on your shoulder, or maybe a shovel handle stuck up your ...

Stick to doing whatever the hell you were prior to getting into farming; it is NOT for you.

Cheers,

F-R-I-E-N-D

John Schneider - Gold Forest Grains said...

Penny and Friend...I read the same post you did. I see Bruce asking a question about Penny's recent comment. I sure as hell don't see Bruce as being defensive or a stick up his anything.

Bruce, I'll answer your question about what you should do. You should ask Penny to give you her address so you can come by and keep an eye on how she treats her dogs and kids (if any). With her follow up comment to your innocent post I am fairly concerned that she is being mentally abusive to her animals and kids.

Friend...what does Bruce's housekeeping have to do with his pile of produce? Where should he keep it in order to pass your standards of animal husbandry? Should it go to the landfill so it can smell bad there?

I wish people would stop concerning themselves with stuff they know n-o-t-h-i-n-g about.

John Schneider - Gold Forest Grains said...

"we received a complain that your pigs are in the mud" Did the officer have a smile on his/her face when they made that statement?

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading all these comments! It does seem like everyone who has animals should read this and then be motivated to reassess their practices and think about what they can do to improve their farm. But it can stop there. You certainly can't expect people who know nothing about farming to not be surprised when they see a lot of dirty animals, as if all farms should look like Old MacDonald's Disney farm, however, they don't need to verbally harass you about it or call animal control. My sympathies that you have to deal with it at all.

Pig manure is one of the stinkiest manures out there, though. Since you can easily get woodchips, and adding carbon to all that nitrogen will result in a better soil for you anyway, it seems like it would help you out to put more chips down. This will also keep your public image cleaner, since you might be selling pork to folks that drive by the farm.

I'd like to know, Penny, how do you think a livestock farmer can stay in business without having A LOT of animals? And also, don't you realize that pigs love mud? Haven't you ever heard the phrase "happier than a pig in mud (or sh*t, as my dad used to say)?

dcpac said...

To play devils advocate you do not live on your farm so you may not be there when people stop by to confront you. You farm is under a major highway that everyone can see when they drive by. The farm is in Everett right outside of Seattle. What do you expect?

Having said that people in that area are for the most part far left whack jobs, Subaru hippy vegan nut jobs. I wish everyone would mind their own. I have been to your farm and unless the wind was blowing just right and the pigs shit really smelled it should not bother any that lives on your flood plain.

Steve the guy you blew off when tried to buy pigs from you.

Penny said...

Well, this is Penny again. I can see this is a no win situation. At first I read all of this and got royally pissed like Bruce did I'm sure. Once again, I will state I did not call animal control. I chose the forum of the blog to question you, Bruce. Being from a farming family (albeit not currently in business) I understand the smells of pigs and cows and all. I understand the difference between a good stink and a bad stink. Have you ever gone past a farm and smelled a pungent manure but it still was ok versus a total sour manure that is from a dirty farm? I have always enjoyed the pigs before and have brought my grandchildren to see your animals from the road. Whether it was the moldy oranges floating allover or what... I don't know. Do not put me in the same bucket with "friend". I don't abuse my dogs and my sons both lived to see adulthood; One as a Monroe Corrections officer, one just home from the military. I still do feel the right to question. And will continue to do so. 'nuf said.