Saturday, 26 July 2008

Neighbours ...

Borrow trouble for yourself, if that's your nature, but don't lend it to your neighbours.

Rudyard Kipling



You may be forgiven for letting your mind leap to that successful Australian soap that introduced the delectable Kylie to the world, but that is not what the title refers to. My mind was preoccupied with the stench of the farm, the absentee landlord, the idiot farm manager and his equally inept hired help!

"Can you smell that?" asked Maria.

"Smell what?" from me.

"That smell," nose in the air doing a 360.

"Nope!" nose following the same parabola, expecting to be overpowered by the stench of the farm that I remembered so vividly from our previous visit.

"Exactly! It's gone. Whoopee!"

"What do you know that you haven't told me?" testily.

We drove to the gate of the farm to await the arrival of somebody that Maria had hastily summonsed with a swift phone call. He duly arrived and I was surprised to see a young guy get out of his all-terrain four-wheeler. I was even more surprised to learn that this agricultural 'midget', whom I was prepared to dislike intensely on first sight, spoke perfect English. Darn, I couldn't even mutter expletives in his direction without being rumbled!

There were still more surprises to come. He was introduced, not as the owner (or even the idiot-manager) of the farm, but as the youngest son of the guy to whom Maria had previously sold the plot of land that adjoined the side of our property. She explained that the father, who was in a buying frenzy, had made an offer to the owner of the 'smelly' farm and had had the offer accepted. The penny dropped. These guys had us surrounded. Time to circle the wagons!

The young guy proceeded to give us the tour of the grim 'Animal Farm'. I almost expected to see old Major standing on a soapbox and spouting, "No animal must ever live in a house or sleep in a bed, or wear clothes, or drink alcohol, or smoke tobacco, or touch money, or engage in trade." Indeed, if he had, I would have probably joined him! But I digress.

The lad explained that he was in the process of cleaning up the mess. That it was taking longer than he anticipated because of the state the land and buildings were in, but that he expected to have the job done before the next planting season. Say again? Yes, he intended to plant crops on all the land that now surrounded us.

Wow! This is going to restore Paradise to the original prototype (I am sure He had a design plan before He started). I couldn't be happier about what I am hearing. Except, of course, I can't expect the sheep to come over and mow my lawn for free any more.

"I don't believe it!"

I pause to wonder when my metamorphosis into a Victor Meldrew had really begun?

Time to look at a few pics with some explanatory captions ...


Our property is on the other side of that fence. The wall has changed to a fence. The owner intends to farm it rather than build houses. We can live with that! A few months of neglect and it all starts to fall down (the roof) and grow madly (the weeds).
The new landowner's son surveying the run-down farm. Rich effluent. Our property is in the centre-background. "Where there's muck there's money" is a good old Brit saying! Worth keeping it in mind.
The old cowsheds in the process of being taken apart. Our boundary wall is on the left. This is what we will eventually see all around us. These corn fields will be much more attractive to look at. And there will be no smell!


Things are looking up. More to follow ...

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Friday, 25 July 2008

Stench ...

You wouldn't be so brave if you'd ever smelled the Bog of Eternal Stench.

'Hoggle' in Labyrinth (1986)



There is no avoiding the fact that livestock farms are intrinsically smelly places. The farm that adjoins our property is no different; worse, it has been allowed to deteriorate into a barely useable piece of slurry.

The owner is an absentee-farmer who spends the majority of his time in Brasil. He appears to have left the responsibility of running the place to a farm manager who is incapable of organizing a piss-up in a brewery. And he, the farm manager, has surrounded himself with workers that make him look like a rocket scientist. I guess it is all a matter of perception; hire 'dumb' and 'dumber' and you are bound to appear intelligent!

This is the sight that met us on one of our previous visits:


Wall knocked down by an idiot farmhand. - (click on thumbnail for larger image)


I experienced a feeling of 'mild-rage' when I first set eyes on this. I've never had that emotion about property before. Let's be honest, I've never owned any property before, so I've never felt the need to get worked up about something like this. Apparently one of the idiot farmhands had nudged the wall with his tractor whilst trying to clear the effluent on the other side. This was the result!

I am, nevertheless, a firm believer in the old adage that, 'Every cloud has a silver lining', and I always work hard to try to spot it. And spot it I did. Look at that picture again and take a closer look at the grass on 'my-side-of-the-fence' (wall, if you prefer). Where there should have been an overgrown jungle, inhabited by various species of ferocious wild animal, there was only close-cropped grass. Scraggly, I admit, with a neatly marked 'path' which I assume was made by the farmworkers wandering down to the river through MY property, but cropped grass all the same!


The little blighters had wandered across, because nobody told them they couldn't, and proceeded to help me out with the overgrowth problem. Lovely little lambs!

But the stench was pretty unbearable, and when the wind blew in the wrong direction I could only imagine how unpleasant it would be to try to sit out on our patio and sip our Sangria's at sunset. Something would have to be done about this situation. Probably another trip to City Hall to get a restraining order on an absentee landlord.

And what hope of us getting that enforced?

Little did we know that a solution was about to present itself without any help or encouragement from us ...

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Here's a toast to your health.

"Lang May Yer Lumb Reek!"
(Scottish for 'long may your chimney smoke')

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