Friday, June 3, 2011

Unwelcome Visitor

Last month, while Mr. Farmer and I toiled away at making scrapple, there was an unexpected knock at the door. I peeked out the kitchen window and saw an unfamiliar white pickup truck with a vaguely familiar green tree painted on the door. I described it to Mr. Farmer, who is good at recognizing people by the vehicles that they drive, and he lowered his voice and said, "It's the township." I immediately remembered what the tree logo was, and I knew instantly why this person was making this not-so-social call. It was a time for quick thinking.

Johnny Law was persistant, unfortunately, and knocked a second time. It was louder this time, and with our tiny cabin, there was no way we could claim we hadn't heard, short of being passed-out drunk at 1 in the afternoon on a weekday (which has never happened).  I decided to greet him (I am calmer than Mr. Farmer, even if I am not as fast a thinker under stress), try to read him, and chose whether to play dumb or be very compliant.

Johnny sounded like he was a combination of being a little annoyed that he had to take time out of his busy day to see me with just a pinch of man I hope this crazy hillbilly chick doesn't pull a shotgun on me on the side, so I chose the compliant approach. When he told me in a well-rehearsed, matter-of-fact tone that the animals must go, I replied that we weren't looking to upset anyone; we are just trying to feed ourselves. "They must go, just the same," he said, so I replied (with as little evil glint in my eye and as much wide-eyed, mountain-girl innocence as I could muster), "Well, we raise them to eat, so I know how to get rid of them." The look on his face when I said that let me know in an instant that I had handled him properly. He did NOT want any details on how they would be disposed of. I think his crisp, white, oxford shirt became suddenly crisper.

At that point, part of me was wishing I hadn't removed my apron to answer the door. That would have solidified the issue in his mind, I'm sure, just from the look of me. At any rate, after an intense call from the home office that made him seem even more annoyed to be dealing a trifling matter like li'l old me, he took my information and said he would send me something in the mail.

More than a month passed and neither official recognition of the visit, nor threatening letter, nor pamphlet, nor printout of the zoning code has arrived in my mailbox. Maybe I read him right, and he really didn't care about what we were doing. Maybe our small farm was super-low on his list of priorities. Maybe he assumed that when I said, "I know how to get rid of them," that I surely would, without further influence from his office. Like I told Johnny Law, we are prepared at any time to dispose of our animals, and not to waste them.

Our relief was short-lived, however, as another official has since approached the property. Young Master Farmer greeted him since neither of us were home. Apparently "They" mean business. So, we are in the process of relocating the animals to a farm that is, sadly, an inconvenient distance away. The landowner is willing to take meat in barter for use of his land, so long as we pay all the expenses of building the fences, bringing in the feed, etc. It is going to be an almost epic move, but the alternative of putting down all the animals and abandoning our hopes of trying to breed the pigs is just too painful to consider. Wish us luck!

Apparently, THIS didn't work.


  1. Oh no!!! I know how much it means to you to be able to do this on your own property. I'm so sorry that you will have to relocate. That really stinks. Keep us posted on how everything goes.

    Hopefully you'll still have some good material to write about -- whatever would you do if you couldn't write about farming? I love reading all about the animals... hopefully they'll still provide you with good inspiration, even if they have to be relocated!

    Good luck... I'll be praying it all works out okay.

  2. Thanks so much. We are looking for a loophole, but we are preparing to move them just the same. So sad.