“Let not your heart be troubled. You are trusting God, now trust in Me. There are many homes up there where my Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
The Herbal Hare Homestead may be moving. In fact, I believe it is almost a certainty. I’m not sure where. Or exactly when. I definitely don’t know how but I feel like He has been conking me over the head repeatedly, one hardship after another here, to finally light that fire under my backside so that I start actively looking.
And taking one step after the other, trusting Him to see us all through.
A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from the local zoning officer. One of my neighbors complained about my roosters crowing. And they don’t like living next to ducks either.
Now before anyone jumps in with recriminations, before I ever brought chickens, ducks, or goats to this property I contacted the zoning office and then a zoning attorney. Strictly speaking, this is considered part of the commercial district of town, even as the whole town is zoned agricultural. However, after reviewing my deed, the attorney determined I didn’t need to get a variance or anything because the property has grandfathered use. He did warn it could be challenged but, to safeguard that, I wrote a letter detailing my plans here, made copies, and got each and every one of my neighbors’ signatures that they were okay with me raising these animals. I promised not to include a buck as they smell bad. I also have a doctor’s note stating that I’m supposed to be drinking goat’s milk.
Fortunately, I save everything.
Unfortunately, we have new neighbors. They didn’t sign that letter. And I get it…even if we were here first. The country is NOT as quiet as one thinks if one has never lived in the country before. And I will not be the first homesteader to be adversely affected by the city-slicker-turned-country-wannabe.
Ironically, there was no mention about the goats in their complaint. It was the crowing of roosters and, apparently, the occasional honking-quack from some of my female ducks when the males are being overly-amorous that my new neighbors are protesting.
We also have a new zoning officer, who is a delightful woman, and we hit it off immediately. She raised sheep until her husband’s passing last year; it liked to have killed her to give them to another farm but she was unable to care for them by herself, owing to some health issues of her own, so she was sympathetic to my plight. But she also has a job to do. Having worked for a local municipality last fall as a temp, I got to witness first-hand the b.s. stories people fabricate when they knowingly violate a zoning regulation. I think the new zoning officer thought that’s what I was about when I called her in response to her letter and told her I’d had a zoning attorney out here 11 years’ ago. When I was able to show her the doctor’s note and the signed letters from all of my neighbors stating they approved of my raising these animals, I saw her expression change to one of even deeper sympathy…and a sudden willingness to push back against these complaints. This was not the usual b.s. but someone who actually took the steps to do this all legally and ethically…and who willingly allowed her access to inspect the premises without giving her a hard time about it (That’s the key, folks! Work with, not against…even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you’d hoped it would be).
She read the letter, checked each address to ensure that each of the homes directly affected were included, then inspected the barn (I hadn’t built or added another building but re-purposed one that already existed here when I purchased the property in 2001). She inspected the animals, too, and wrote in her report that they were happy and well cared for. As she was a farmer previously, there was a moment’s pride that she found no fault with any of them. Though there is no pond here, there is a large kiddie pool for the ducks with a ramp for easy access in and out of it. There’s a 6-foot chain link fence to keep them all from roaming off-site…and for keeping predators out. That Chester (goat) came over and immediately rubbed his face all up and down her leg for affection said volumes about how well they are cared for.
Will she be able to swing it so my babies can stay?
There’s no way of knowing just yet. And she did say the roosters would have to go but, if I showed a willingness to comply with this one part of it, this new neighbor might relent about the rest. But, there’s a big part of me saying, do I have to go through this every time I get a new neighbor??? Do I have to perpetually fight to keep what matters most to me outside of faith and family? And, to be honest, I regard my animals as part of the family.
So I’m looking further afield, further ahead.
The animals may go to a friend’s farm as boarders until I can scrape together enough for that relocation. I’m thinking Maine, upper-state New York, Vermont…maybe Tennessee (though I would hate the heat!), as my brother and his family live there so we would have family nearby. It would be nice to see them more than every couple of years when we can afford to travel. And I will be looking for farm land…or at least a property that is actually zoned for agricultural use, or maybe an unincorporated town where there aren’t any zoning regulations. They’re few and far between but it’s worth looking into.
Of course, my main concern is how to finance all of this. Before the pandemic, I was staring foreclosure in the face owing to an injury in January 2019, a subsequent job loss, and the inability to find full-time work again to sustain us. My credit sucks…no polite way to say it. But, even if I get to keep the animals here, that issue still exists. Will I be able to save the home? Will He provide that job at the last moment? Or will He slide everything into place once I set my sights in the direction He wants me to go?
Because that’s how He works.
When you obey His commands, when you follow His direction, He moves those mountains completely out of the way. So, now I wait, and I do the work I must do in the interim, and in the meantime, I ask for everyone’s prayers. This ain’t going to be easy…
May God bless you & keep you!