|image: Mother Earth News|
Michael McCarty, Contributor
It must be fair to say that human beings strive to be liked by other humans. Most of us not only want this, but need it. We crave acceptance and approval like a potted plant thirsts for water and nourishment. For some, it is most uncomfortable and worrisome to know that another person not only dislikes them, but despises them.
Hatred aimed and focused in your direction can be a devastating and brutish weapon, and it can knot and shrivel your innards if you let it. A man who tells you different is either completely oblivious or tragically dishonest to himself. I know, for I’ve experienced such mind-numbing hatred from another person for the last several months. It does not lessen the confusion and pain to know that it is all because of pet dogs and dead chickens.
My wife and I raise rabbits, squab, and chickens for our family table on our small acreage in the rocky mountains. It is a mostly simple and worthy task. We enjoy the daily chores and the opportunity to be more closely involved with our food. It gives us purpose and slows the spin within the ever-tightening death spiral of the rulers’ world, hoping that our example will encourage others to change their ways or stay the truer course. Our part is small and the hour late, but we can only hope that a small awareness in ourselves leads to better days for all. Hands-on food and an honest meal can do no harm. Some people, however, seem to have a genuine knack and desire for havoc and assault. It is the promise of the end of something good and inherently pure that drives them.
We have tried to be respectful and considerate neighbors. It’s not that hard to do. Large tracts of open space surround us on three sides. To our north lies the Flat Tops Wilderness, and mostly other wild lands up to the Canadian border. We favored our closest neighbor and built our bird pens and coops about as far away as possible to reduce the chance of conflict or complaint. We tried to inform them of our plans, and offered to resolve any problems in advance. We built and repaired hundreds of feet of border fence without thanks or any offer of assistance. Instead, we offered ourselves if needed, and eggs from our happy hens, and other backyard bounty. We owned up to the joys of “manure management” and odor control, and in fact adored the results it produced when applied to our gardens. It mattered not at all, for their dogs came anyway and killed them, without consideration or remorse.
The same dogs have come several times over many months, as we were never quite able to completely finish the fence. It didn’t matter that in Colorado it is the dog owner’s responsibility to control the wanderings of their dogs. It didn’t matter that our property possesses the proper zoning, and that we had broken no laws. It didn’t matter that we have always limited the amount of time that our birds have free ranged on open pasture, and under a close eye at that. It never mattered that Colorado is a “Right To Farm” State, or that our property was once a poultry farm long before we, or our neighbors, thought to live here. What matters is that our chickens are still very dead, and that our neighbors apparently hate us beyond all measure of rationality and reciprocity, because we had the audacity to ask to be compensated for our loss. Until then, I never imagined that chickens and farm animals could generate so much disdain and consuming hatred within a human soul.
Of course, the officers of animal control responded to our calls, the police consulted and reported, and the court evaluated and judged. We have been compensated monetarily to some extent. But, still, somehow the compensation never comes close to filling the emptiness left behind. It does not compensate for the destruction of one’s peace of mind, nor aid in the eternal quest of a lost ideal. We don’t ask for much. But we would occasionally like to hold the world of deceivers and brain addled man-children at bay for a few precious moments in time, and latch onto something real long enough to remember what that is.
It’s a life’s work to look evil in the eye and make it blink, without first succumbing to the overwhelming need to falter and sprint for cover. In my case, it certainly does not help when your chicken-hating neighbor is every bit of 6′ 6″, and then some, and looks like he could still hold his own on the college basketball court. He has no doubt held off countless opponents from an uncontested spot beneath the basket. I would not like to be on the receiving end of a slashing and blindsided elbow. To say the least, my neighbor is a rather intimidating fellow, and his body language and practiced glare would make a snarling badger turn inside out and pass himself in panicked flight. Like all petty enforcers and sadistic bone breakers, he is used to getting what he wants, or disposing of what he does not want. He has made it clear that he does not want us to have the pleasure of our chickens. They will be gone, of that he is sure. In his mind, there must be an angle from which to triangulate, and an actionable course to pursue.
Still, I must stand my ground in the face of the onslaught. Farms and farming are suffering under a withering and unconscionable attack in this country, every day, from every direction imaginable. Big business and big government collude and conspire against us, with malice aforethought. Little government works overtime to impress their corrupt handlers, with some special attention for anyone who points out their dirty workings. Urban and suburban values collide with escalating force as the job market and the economy implodes, leaving the common person to pick up the crumbs from their festering carcasses. You want to raise and sell some poultry from your own property, you say? Well, we don’t think so!
We let it get this bad because we never saw it coming. A good person cannot think through the mind of a plotting and scheming beast. We simply cannot originate the concept of fluoridated and toxic waters promulgated to wash down chemically saturated non-food, while making it illegal to have a home garden, as they dream up new ways to criminalize the art of chicken keeping.
As with others locked in this terrible struggle, I will stand and fight because I must. Like all proper dinosaurs I will see my end soon enough, or perhaps grow wings like the bird they became and fly through the bombardment unscathed. I will fight for my right and your right to become just a little more self-sufficient and defiantly independent, and help you hold up a big, bold, handful of personal dignity towards the light.
After all, like many of you, I have already pledged to spit in the eye of the county health department, the USDA, The FDA, and any other alphabet soup agency ;or freedom-hating tyrant.
The enemies of the borderlands are vast and most cleverly devious. They lurk at the edges of our lovingly protected world, while hungrily plotting the death of our way of life. Compared to them, just how bad can one really giant fire-breathing neighbor be?
Our intimidators simply cannot prevail, and we refuse to own their hatred. We will not allow it, and our travails and hardships will be replaced with joy and forgiveness. Here’s to hoping, and praying, that it can only hurt for a little bit, and that things will look much better when it’s over.
We have the power of the chicken and her friends, and the righteousness of the good fight, on our side. Food Freedom!
Michael Patrick McCarty earned a B.S. Degree in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University. He has worked in both the public and private sectors in a variety of capacities relating to fisheries and wildlife biology, water and environmental quality, and outdoor recreation. Michael and his wife steward a small acreage they have named Peach Valley Heritage Farms. It’s a “work in progress” for sure, but a little piece of heaven in the Rockies, just the same. Their work can be found at The Backyard Provider.