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How To Deal With BAD Neighbors

 
pioneer
Posts: 158
Location: St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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Dear Permies Community,

First of all, I will do my best to keep this brief but we have been dealing with this for almost a year and a half now, so there is a lot to say. I apologize in advance if it ends up being lengthy. I'll try to make a TLDR version at the end.

For those that don't know me, since first signing up on the Permies forums, I've done my best to share what information I know about permaculture and homesteading through How-To Videos, Photos, Blogs/Vlogs, Threads, etc. If you're curious, you can learn more about our story by reading my bio and visiting our YouTube channel. Although I may not have always have been super active in replying to other people's posts, I try really REALLY hard to do my part and contribute to the greater Permies compendium. That said, I need to call in a favor from the community out of sheer hopelessness and desperation.

Ok, here goes...


Intro

My wife and I have always tried to see the best in people when humanely possible. I believe that most of the time, every person has something of value to contribute to the world. They have their strengths and their weaknesses, like we all do. No one is perfect. But there's a small fraction of the population that are nothing more than a drain on society. They are deceptive, manipulative and toxic to all those around them. They take turns screwing people over and using them up like a piece of toilet paper before running out of victims and are then forced to move on to the next place. It may sound harsh, but I now believe these people do not deserve to be respected, pitied or even forgiven if they change their ways because of the magnitude of damage they have caused to others with their carelessness. Unfortunately for us, our neighbors are these people, and in fact they are the worst kind of these people that I've encountered in my 40-or-so years on this planet. And that's saying a lot! Trust me, I've met my fair share of shady characters.

For a long time I believed in the basic decency of our fellow humans and treated everyone the way I would like to be treated. Sadly, after years of being burned, lied to and taken advantage of, I've become quite jaded and cynical. I say this because I know a lot of you out there will have the same well-intentioned reactions that our friends and family have had, such as "Just ignore them" or "Don't let them get to you". While I normally would agree with those strategies, I'm afraid it's not quite that simple in this case. No one else truly knows the extent of what we've had to deal with since these people moved next door. So it may be difficult to understand where I'm coming from at first. But I'm certain that anyone else who would have gone through something like this would feel similarly and would do everything in their power to stop their own Neighbors From HELL.


The Situation

A year and a half ago, our direct neighbors to the South sold their house to a guy from out of province and moved. We didn't know them very well. They were quiet and kept to themselves, like a lot of us in our rural neighborhood, and we liked that about them. Our direct neighbors to the North are the same way only our families have known each other for nearly 35 years, so we are closer and help each other out often, as good neighbors should. For the most part, regardless of our level of socialization, everyone in the neighborhood gets along and we have each others' backs. That is, until the new people showed up.

Before they left, we had a chance encounter with the former neighbors to the South one day while meeting on the property line. Turns out they were really nice people. We then exchanged pleasantries and traded maple syrup for wine. We both remarked how it would have been nice if we had got to know each other better before they left. As the conversation ended, they told us a little bit about the new neighbors that would be moving in. They said that it was a family of 5 or 6, they weren't sure exactly how many, and that they had a dozen or so huskies with intentions of building a kennel on the property. (Remember this for later because it's important to the story) We weren't keen on the idea of living next a kennel of a dozen or more dogs, but at the time we thought it would be manageable somehow. I remember saying to my wife that "maybe they're just retired mushers or something". Little did I know that could not have been further from the truth.

A few months past. The old neighbors left. The new neighbors moved it. Nothing really noticeable or unusual happened - at first. Then the dogs started to show up. One dog became three, three became six and before we knew it, we had lost count. The first thing we began to notice was that the atmosphere of the environment changed dramatically.

We live in a very quiet rural area in Eastern Ontario. It's zoned Ag so the only people who live in this area are farmers and those that want to get away from the city/burb life. Most of the people know each other around here and are respectful to one another. We try our best to be mindful of our volume because the sound carries in the quiet country, especially in the winter. After the new neighbors moved in, all we could hear were their loud mouths and huskies barking, yipping and howling at all hours. We also often heard growling and fighting between the dogs, fighting between the dogs and the owners and fighting between themselves. That's when it became apparent that we had a serious problem on our hands.

After a few weeks, and before we even considered phoning the township and getting bylaw involved, we did what any civilized person with common sense would do, we tried to reason with them. We thought we could also use that as an opportunity to introduce ourselves and see what type of people they really were.

Our staple stock on our little farm is maple syrup and our other neighbors know that when April and May come around, they can expect to get some syrup from us as a way of saying thank you for putting up with our clinking and clanking pots and pans as we often boiled into the night. We even give some to those that are not within earshot, just to be friendly and to keep with the traditions my grandparents started. So we gave some to the new neighbors too, along with a card that introduced who we were and welcoming them to the neighborhood.

A couple days later, they came knocking at our door with one of their daughters. They introduced themselves and offered a cheesecake in return. Now that I think about it, it was a store-bought cheesecake, which was a little strange, but they seemed like nice enough people so we thought nothing of it. We talked for a little while and I subtly pried for information to find out what their intentions were with the property. They admitted to having 14 dogs at the time and we're planning to get more in order to run a kennel and also breed them for profit. After they left, I remember we noticed how open they were about divulging information, even potentially incriminating information, to perfect strangers. Later we would find out this would be a recurring theme with the Mom, which I will now refer to simply as T.

A few more months passed and in that time, the noise level only got worse. We began opening our windows to let the fresh spring air in our home but all we could hear when we did was fighting and the sound of more than a dozen dogs. They were just so damn loud! All the time! What made it worse was that both parents had terribly foul mouths and they blamed their children for everything that went wrong with the dogs. They either didn't care that we could hear them or were that ignorant. Turns out it was a combo of both. As this was developing, we also started to see more and more dogs at large show up on our property and around the neighborhood. Some even went so far as a notoriously busy and dangerous highway a few kilometers away.

These are huskies so they are big dogs. We were lucky that the ones that came over were not aggressive, at least at the time, but we knew by the sounds and conversations we were hearing that some of them were. So we took all necessary precautions, such as reinforcing our doors and buying a surveillance system, all things we didn't have to worry about before.

But this began to get old fast and it was stressing out our dog who was having her territory repeatedly invaded and marked by other dogs. They would piss right on her dog house while she was in it and surround her until she submitted. After 2 or 3 of these incidents, we had had enough and began to phone bylaw enforcement and report these incidents to them. We also had another meeting with the neighbors and asked that they please restrain their dogs. We expressed how it was stressing out our dog and family. They seemed genuinely concerned and agreed to make an effort to contain them. Their excuse was that they use shock collars and that the batteries had died on them. I told the Father, henceforth known as J, that he should put up a fence or take additional measures because shock collars for that many dogs is not realistic. He flat out told me that he could not afford to do that and likely never would. This is when the true nature of their characters began to emerge.

Another few weeks passed. This became a pattern. There would be no incidents for a week or so, then back to the way it was. More dogs showing up on our property. So more phone calls were made to bylaw. Bylaw kept saying that without proof, there was nothing they could do. It was our word against theirs and T and J were obviously not admitting any of what had happened to bylaw, like the pathological liars that they are. The bylaw enforcement officer told us to start noting the time and dates when these incidents occurred and said that it would be even better if we could capture them on tape. At one point they even suggested that we restrain the dogs until he could get there full well knowing that some of them were aggressive. After reading a few articles on the topic of dogs at large, he should have never said that because that is a big no-no for bylaw to even propose. A citizen should never put themselves in danger to restrain a dog at large. That's the job of the bylaw officer.

Despite being law-abiding citizens who had done nothing wrong, we found ourselves in a situation where no one wanted to believe us that this was happening, even law enforcement. The burden of proof was always on us. And so began our part time job of tracking all incidents of trespassing, dogs at large, noise violations, nuisances and more, to no avail.

From here, things only get worse. There were days where the neighbors fights were so loud that the police were called by other neighbors. There was one incident where an assault occurred between the family members. T's 20 something year old daughter and her boyfriend had assaulted J because of a reported theft involving bank transfers, presumably to do with selling dogs. We would later find out that T's daughter was pregnant at the time they moved in and was made to care for the dogs, in addition to paying rent and taking care of her 2 younger sisters, one of which is autistic.

On a side not here, taking care of a child with special needs is challenging on its own, but balancing that with caring for more than a dozen dogs and all the responsibilities of daily life is practically impossible. So their lives inevitably began to deteriorate further. They became desperate for money and J was caught on a neighbor's security camera, scoping houses and car shopping around the neighborhood. But his face was concealed so they were not able to prove it was him. Again, the burden of proof was placed on the victim.

T and J did not work or earn income other than selling puppies under the table. They just mooched off the system, defrauding disability and social services. We would also discover that there were concurrent issues going on with drugs, child abuse, animal abuse and even pedophilia. Suffice it to say we quickly felt uncomfortable with the idea of even living next to these people since we have two kids of our own. But we weren't about to give up our dream home that had been in our family over 3 decades just to get away from them. Not yet and not without a fight.

As our homestead grew and evolved over the following months, and we did our best to work through the incidents with our neighbors, the tensions grew. Repeated calls were made to bylaw and OPP (provincial police) on every incident, yet every time no justice was served. Whether it was dogs at large or trespassing, and even most recently, purposefully damaging our property, the township, nor police, were willing to enforce their laws. We started to feel like this was some kind of conspiracy and often felt like we were going crazy. How could this be happening?! The very people who make the laws are not willing to enforce them? It still boggles my mind to this day. T and J must have friends in high places is all I can figure, which is also confusing because we can't understand who would want to be friends with people like that.

To make matters even worse, we found out these people were renters! They had some sort of a rent-to-own agreement with the owner. The property owner, who we have never met or talked to and who has washed his hands of the whole thing, hired a property manager who has defended every single thing they have done, no matter how cruel or disgusting. I find that particularly peculiar because all the property managers I've ever known would throw their tenant out after 1 or 2 of these incidents, let alone a dozen or more. We figured the manager and owner clearly have a vested interest in their backyard breeder operation, inaccurately dubbed "House of Loving Huskies". Why else would they be so defensive? He must have a dog in this fight, no pun intended. The owner is also a member of the New Brunswick provincial government, so this goes deeper than we could have imagined. We were sure that something very shady was going on here.

Just to further demonstrate the types of characters we are dealing with, one of the last times we talked to T and J, their dogs had got loose again in the night and got into our trash. We woke up to find garbage all over our driveway one morning. When we went over to confront them about it, they admitted it was their dogs and apologized, saying it would never happen again, like they always say. What was tragic that time was we caught J on his way to buy dog food that morning. When we went to talk to him before he left, we observed trash strewn about their yard and the dogs were eating it. The poor things were obviously stsrvy and these lowlifes were probably spending what little money they had on booze and drugs instead of buying food for their dogs. It makes me angry and sick to my stomach every time I think about it.

We have been through everyone at this point, going all the way to the top, to provincial and federal MP's and with absolutely no justice! We've tried everything! It's a clear indication of how broken our system really is. No one seems to want to get involved unless it directly affects them somehow. It's a sickness in our society - a new level of selfishness. We are not being protected by the laws that are supposed to protect us and now, as a result, my family lives in fear for their safety and security living next to these awful people. We have contacted Bylaw, OPP, the mayor, council, township, local, provincial and federal leaders, CAS, OSPCA, PAW, hell even CRA. Even with the mountain of proof we have (videos, audio, pictures, puppy adds, even T's own daughter who used to live there has confirmed all our suspicions and is on our side... despite all this, no one will help us!!! It's friggin' crazy!

I'm counting on someone out there in Permieland who has a soft spot for animals and some knowledge that will help us. I'll take anything I can get. Any little piece of advice will help. Anything at all, no matter how small it may be might help.

Thank you so much for hearing me out and for any help or guidance you can offer. I will do ANYTHING to protect my family and my homestead but sadly if this keeps up another year, I don't know if we can handle it mentally and emotionally. We don't want to move but we've started talking about it as a possibility, as a last resort, and it just breaks my heart. It makes our whole family cry every time we bring it up.

We don't want to lose our Maple Grove Dream Farm! My grandfather built this house in 1986 and lived here for 30 years with my grandmother before we took over. It would be a real tragedy if their legacy was tarnished by these no-goodnicks and their exploitative ways with animals.

I sincerely hope no one out there ever has to deal with something like this. I wouldn't wish it on anyone! But the silver lining here (and there is always a silver lining if you dig deep enough) is that we did evoke some change with our persistence. The township has put a hold on a kennel licenses until further notices until they can get their stuff together and sort out their bylaws which are obviously not taken seriously due to lack of enforcement. Also, even though T and J somehow won a property variance hearing for their "kennel", we appealed it and, as of the time of writing this, they still do not meet the requirements agreed upon, so they will not be able to keep more than 3 dogs eventually, as is the law. Whether or not the township will enforce that though, or anything at all for that matter, is another story.

One last fact that I did not state was that multiple dogs have died in the hands of these people. On one occasion, we heard J say to T's daughter: "You killed my dog! You killed my f----ing dog!", blaming the children as always. Two more dogs died after that too. It's never their fault for anything. Countless times we heard them also blame their younger daughters who are only 10 and 12, one is autistic. That is just not right! I feel the worst for those poor kids and those dogs. I don't want to split their family up but what they are going through over there is not normal. The kids and dogs deserve better! No child or animal should be put in that situation... Ever!

There are so many more incidents that happened in the last year and a half. I could go on and on but I've already said so much here. I'll be impressed if anyone can get through it all. But if you managed to get through it somehow, please let me know if you've been through something similar or if you have any ideas for us.


As promised, here is the TLDR version:

March 2019: Neighbors moved in with their 14-20 dogs.

April-August 2019: Things get progressively worse for them. There are constant fights there between family members and dogs. Dogs are also coming over to our property on a regular basis. Bylaw and police refuse to do their jobs.

September 2019: Cops showed up next door. There was an incident involving an assault. Oldest daughter's boyfriend assaulted J because of something involving a theft. Presumably, T and J stole money from them and things got ugly when they tried to get it back.

October 2019-January 2020: Numerous dogs at large. Our dog and children are approached by large huskies on our property multiple times. We are losing our patience with bylaw and OPP who are still doing nothing despite our tons of evidence. It's like they are waiting for something bad to happen before they act. Not on my watch!

February 2020: T and J apply for a property variance because their property does not meet zoning restrictions for a kennel on ALL sides of the property. They win despite our best efforts. We are furious about the Zoning committee's decision and we appeal it immediately absorbing further costs. Costs to us exceed $1000 at this point. Only 1 other neighbor steps forward to back us up. All others are too afraid to get involved or even sign our petition. Cowards!

March-Present: Many more incidents of dogs at large and also noise violations, trespassing, animal abuse, child abuse, deaths of animals due to neglect and even intentional damage to our property. We have tons of proof. We contact Bylaw, OPP, Mayor, Council, Township, CAS, OSPCA, CRA, PAWS, even provincial and federal MP's. No one does a thing. No justice! T and J continue to shelter under the protection of COVID-19 exemptions and use the pandemic to their advantage in order to buy more time. During this time, T's daughter steps forward and confirms all our suspicions and more. She sides with us out of her own frustration of not being heard regarding her abuse and that of her sisters, including possible pedophilia.

I have lost all faith in politics and the general structure of our democratic process. What a joke! It offers nothing but a false sense of security. Regardless, I will not allow any harm to come to my family or animals by the hands of T and J. I will protect them at all cost. I am ready to go to jail if I have to.

Thank you again in advance for your replies and for reading my lengthy post. It sure was cathartic at the very least. All the best to you and much love!

Matt Leger
Maple Grove Farm

 
gardener
Posts: 493
Location: Ontario - Gardening in zone 3b, 4b, or 6b, depending on the day
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How awful, and bizarre!

Do you have any livestock? If you did, harassment of livestock by trespassing dogs would likely be a case of "shoot, shovel, and shut up" . (Yes, I am an animal lover and I say that- my animals come first).

Is there a local humane society? I know the OSPCa is now refusing to enforce animal cruelty laws but they may be worth a call to discuss the laws and enforcement options. I wonder if you caught some of the friendlier dogs, if you could deliver them to a humane society. They usually ransom dogs back for a few hundred dollars, which would be a good incentive for your neighbour to build that fence or have less dogs!!!

Are any other neighbors bothered, could you cowrote a petition to council?  You said the MP is in on it .... I wonder if the MPP would be of any use- especially if they are from two different parties.... :D Beyond that, media attention might be useful. "Local MP rents to puppy mill" might make for a provocative news story especially if you are reasonably close to Ottawa.

Also- when you make your complaints, try to focus on real offenses. Like, is there a noise bylaw? Is there a nuisance animal by law? Etc, etc. Spell it out for the people reading your complaint. " On x date, x addres was in violation of section x and x of the noise bylaw x. Which states '....'when they '....'. "

If that fails, there is some potential recourse in court for "loss of enjoyment of property " but good luck getting the money from them
 
Matt Leger
pioneer
Posts: 158
Location: St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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Hi Catie,

Thank you so much for your reply and for taking the time to offer up some guidance. It is indeed quite awful and very bizarre, but I'm used to that living near Cornwall, ON.

We do not yet have chickens or other farm animals besides a dog who is our peotector and 3 cats to chase off rodents in the garden. We're afraid that if we do get some farm animals that they will be attacked one day when we're least expecting it. But I would not think twice about shooting one of their dogs, I just don't want it to come to that if I can help it.

I've been in contact with a few humane society type places. They will hear us out, open a case and go investigate, but every time they just make "recommendations" to them but do nothing else. These people are very good at hiding their tracks and hiding their excess animals in a pinch. The Mom also turns on the waterworks when law enforcement and others arrive and most of them fall for her pity trips because they don't know her. These dozen+ dogs are apparently "therapy animals". Scamming the system from every angle.

Yes, OSPCA passes the buck to OPP now and OPP won't lift a finger if they don't have to. They gladly take our reports but it stops there. Nothing more than a venting session. We have thought of surrendering their dogs if we catch them but a few hundred dollar fine is nothing to them when they're selling puppies for $1500-3000 each!

Other neighbors agree that it's a problem but they won't get involved our of fear of retaliation. They have no spine! They won't even sign our petition. People just don't look out for each other anymore these days. It only becomes a problem when it's happening to you. and I hate to say it but if something happens with my neighbours, I'll be tempted to do the same. Where were you when WE needed you?! It's a vicious cycle and just makes us all the more cynical.

You're right about the media though. That's our next and final step. If the MP/MPP won't do anything, we'll go tell our story to the media. We're close enough to Ottawa that I'm sure they would be interested as well.

Copy about the complaint format. I will do that. I hate having to put in the time and energy for all this when I have so many other projects to work on around the homestead. But I'll do what I have to do to protect us and get some justice finally.

As far as taking them to court goes, other people who have been burned by them have threatened lawsuits. We also would probably have a fairly strong case but as you said, the odds of us getting any money out of them are slim to none.
 
pollinator
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MEDIA TIME! Collect as much good video as possible, get all your efforts documented and categorized with dates and hit every local news stations, newspapers, even shows like W5, also CKC, they will often step in, if their name is being bandied about. Also health Authority and Child welfare agencies.
 
Matt Leger
pioneer
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Location: St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:MEDIA TIME! Collect as much good video as possible, get all your efforts documented and categorized with dates and hit every local news stations, newspapers, even shows like W5, also CKC, they will often step in, if their name is being bandied about. Also health Authority and Child welfare agencies.



We anticipated it would come to this but had hoped it wouldn't. But yes, that's clearly our next course of action. They claim to be registered with the Ontario Breeders association but we do not see them there. In the ads, and when speaking with them in person, they do not claim to be registered with anyone. So a(nother) call to the CKC and OBA is in order. Great idea going to W5 also, as well as the other media suggestions. Thank you, Lorinne! I'll keep you all posted if you're curious of the outcome.
 
Matt Leger
pioneer
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At the very least, perhaps some day this thread will help some other homesteader who is in a similar situation with their neighbors. If you're reading this, and that person is you, please know that you are not alone!
 
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Where I grew up in Ontario, farmers were encouraged by law enforcement to shoot loose dogs seen on their property.  They are a danger to children and livestock.  I'm not advocating the practice, and certainly it is not the dog's fault that they are left to roam free by careless owners, but your neighbours must be aware this is a possibility.  I watched your youtube video, and the intensity of the atmosphere shift must be almost impossible to live with - I really feel for you.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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I've been where you are. It sucks, and you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. I played nice for ten years, finally they actually died (no, not at my hand!). In hindsight, I should NOT have allowed myself to be held hostage, and that is what I was, a hostage on my own property, so believe me when I say, I get it.

I also put up a 6 foot metal roofing fence after their dog came onto my property and attacked mine - for which they TRIED to say it was MY dog, until I showed the authorities where the fence had been pushed in from their side (then they tried to say my dog PULLED their dog through!).

Years of this; non stop teenage parties of over 50 drunk kids, every second night; fights; on several nights screams of "rape" from the partiers; being insulted every time I walked on my land (the C word, the B word etc.); constant taunting of my dogs; bottles thrown and smashed onto my property and the road....

Video, document, photograph, audio tapes. Try for town council meeting, especially if televised, to publicize the situation.  If "OWNER" is in public office, use that, go ABOVE them in party hierarchy to see if pressure applied that way works. Send detailed email accounts via FB or, ideally directly; document all, especially replies.

If possible, make friends with someone in the local police, speak to them "off the record" initially, and follow ALL suggestions, at least that might get someone on side. Also try conservervation, dogs at large are a threat to wildlife.

DO NOT be passive, it will only get worse.
 
pollinator
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Geez, that's just nasty in every way.

Good comments and suggestions above.

Meanwhile, take a positive step to keep those bloody dogs away from you, your children and your dog/cats. Three-wire electric fence, right away, powered by the longest-range (most powerful) energizer that you can buy at a farm supply store. Use the poly-and-steel type wire, it's inexpensive and very easy to work with. Enough is enough.
 
Matt Leger
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You guys are awesome! Thank you so much for those great suggestions! It feels good to be validated and that it's not just us that are crazy. You start to doubt yourself after a while when no one seems to want to help or believe anything you say without recorded proof. There was a time not long ago when we didn't rely on CCTV and people's accounts of things actually meant something. We have so many witnesses too! That's what pisses me off. But without catching it on video, they don't believe a word we say. Video or it didn't happen! =/

I agree, we definitely can't be passive right now. I love the idea of an electric fence and I have the budget to actually afford one right now. I would have already installed an electric fence by now but we have perfectly good cattle fence all rolled up and ready to go. We just don't have the fence posts in yet because of the amount of work involved. I also didn't feel right about us paying for the fence when they should be the ones putting it in. But we're past that now. Ill thrown as much money and labor at the problem as I need to.

So sorry you had to go through that, Lorinne. That sounds horrible, and in a lot ways worse than what we are going through. Can't compare apples to oranges I suppose. But either way, that sucks! It sounds horrible to say it, but thank goodness they're no longer alive! We have had similar thoughts too and it's not easy to just wait it out. I have to keep being actively involved, even if I don't want to, lest I start to feel completely powerless to the situation. I'm not one to just play the victim and pout about it. I'll keep doing what it takes. But thank you for sharing your experience! That helps us a lot.

I'm taking all these suggestions onboard and doing everything in my power to put an end to this, once and for all. I'm considering also starting a neighborhood watch if people around here are interested. Even if they're not, I'm totally fine taking nightly drives around the neighborhood just to make sure everything is OK. Might be a good chance to get to know some of my neighbors. Always looking for that silver lining! ;)

 
Douglas Alpenstock
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A thought: when my father, a no-nonsense farmer, put up an electric wire because the cattle were pushing through the regular barbed wire, he would find/make a low spot that was very wet and set a little nice hay on the outside. A perfect earth ground helps make the message clear. Even the 2000 lb Holstein bull would not go anywhere near the fence after that.
 
pollinator
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In addition to (or instead of) your new electric fence, you might be able to mount game cameras to photograph or videotape the dogs coming on to your property.  If those cameras could accidentally capture some of the abusive language, arguments, and complaints about the kids' care for the dogs, that might be useful, too.

I'm so sorry that you folks (and those poor huskies) are enduring this.  Plan your media attack carefully; you want to have everything you need in hand, rather than becoming a crank who always has some new complaint.  Get it all in order and then choose the best evidence to make your case!  A select choice of evidence (with the rest for backup) makes a stronger case than lots and lots of mediocre evidence.

Best of luck!
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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A neighbourhood watch is a good idea. Much better if it is in concert with a provincial rural crime initiative, and watch members are known and vetted through an officially sanctioned process.

But really, I suggest avoiding any sort of watch/patrol by yourself. Master manipulators can also capture footage, and then spin it as "stalking behaviour." The high road is the only road.

Regardless, it would be really cool to have your cautious neighbours help you set up your electric fence. These days, they can wear hats and masks and not be "suspicious characters" in the least.
 
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Matt

I am sorry to hear you are going through this very difficult time. Whoever said, "don't just let it go" or words like that, I heartily second.  Some people do not attend to anything that doesn't IMPACT them, and this appears such a case. "Talk" is thus just a meaningless waste of time viz reaching an "understanding". Won't happen. However, talk can provide evidence and, once it becomes clear that you do what you say, your talk may have some practical affect. If you do what you say - always. Advice to try to make friends, get help was super good.  Below is a scatter of ideas for ending ugly people.

From your detailed posts, I suspect you have reviewed all the applicable laws. I don't know your personal beliefs and practices, but one thing I can think of which will affect them is killing their dogs. If you can shoot well, that may be an option. If you can't shoot well, now may be the time to become an expert rifle shot. Done legally, of course. If you can do it quickly before the neighbors (and the dogs) get on to you and start to control their dogs, it will have more affect. Cameras, of course, but also the local authorities out to see the bodies on your property. All proper and legal and relentless.

What passes for Child Welfare Department in your area? Their child is clearly in danger in a bad place. Maybe find out what they key on and what they need to take action and plan before you start the case. Maybe audio of their language and abuse would help?

Do they have vehicles? Are the licensed? Are they in acceptable condition or do the have turn signals or other lights not working?

How do people get kicked off the dole up in C-land? Maybe worth checking. There is some reason the landlord lets them stay - it might be money and if that dried up...

Do they use drugs? How do they get them? Do they make them? Again, Child Welfare. But also plain old narcs. Do they have "friends" visiting? Can you photo their license plates? (You fear drug dealers so you give them to the cops.) If you see them in public, ask them loudly why they swear at their young daughter using sex words and profanity. Ask Loudly. Ask loudly if their dogs mess in their daughter's room like they do everyplace else (or something like that). Get those lazy town people in the loop whether they like it or not. (They definitely WON'T.)  Stand up in church after service and ask if anybody knows whether husky's get rabies. Ask in a letter to the editor. Explain why you're concerned.

Are their dogs healthy? Kept in decent conditions? Can you photo that? If kennel  conditions are bad and you can get proof, see about make a public complaint that produces records, then go online where these people try to make their sales and link to those records. Think DISEASE. Or at least say it.

Who is the owner(s)? The cops have enough to find them. Lawyer time. Drug house, endangering the neighborhood with ferrel dog packs. Landlord harbors criminals, endangers town. Why does the owner keep them? There is something there. Who has the mortgage? Tenant is destroying the property land value going down. Ya-di-ya-di-ya.  NAME the landlord spread his name all over. Letters to the editor. Name the lender. Set up cameras on your property and photo cars coming/going from their drive, if possible.

This all totally sucks. But you are fighting for you life. Do it with as much smarts as you can. You're probably angry, but act smart as you can. Keep asking around. Keep publicizing their name and their acts. They are amoral slobs. You are fighting for your life. There is as LOT that is wrong with them and you don't have to confine  yourself to your Roberts Rules of Order approach unless that actually helps you, gives you strength - sometimes stuff like that does. Keep asking for justice. Remember the poor widow and the judge that feared neither God nor Man.

Can't have too many cameras and mics. Can't know the law too well.  Can't have too many friends. I don't know if any of these things I mentioned are a good idea for _you_. We all have our own styles and you need to be "on board" with anything you do because this is not a shoving match between 10 year olds (though it may seem that way at times). Also, you need to keep on the right side of your community because you won't be able to prevail w/out that community. You have to drive those people out of their home and at some point survival will kick in for them. So don't "pull a gun" that  you're not going to use. Because you _will_ have to use it - they won't go until they _have to_.

I'm sorry to hold up this maybe bleak but very simple picture. If I had to pick a place to start, it would be Child Welfare and I would not leave go of that, ever. The next would be the landlord. Build a bonfire under that person destroying his name and to the extent possible, his wallet; it might well require a (good) lawyer _and_ a sympathetic reporter. All this above: Just theory. Maybe it shows you some angles you hadn't seen yet.  If you forge ahead, it will be difficult and you will probably come out dirty. The future is unclear, but there is a lot you can do.  

Finally. Have you considered a _real_ fence? Ie. like the Resident in our White House champions? Think   Expensive. But, if it works for you, it'll easily be the cheapest way. Easily.


Best luck.
Rufus
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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[Rufus, if you used my two phase approach, I can hardly imagine what the first draft looked like. Edit: but lots of good stuff in there amigo.]

Things are quite different up here, across the Medicine line. Maybe better in some ways, maybe worse in others, I dunno. Apples and oranges.

I don't know Ontario law specifically, but generally in this country there is pretty much no fuss when a rural landowner uses a firearm to kill nuisance animals that are attacking their domestic animals. However, guns aren't everyone's bag, and there are fairly restrictive laws up here. When humans are part of the mix, well, there's no castle law etc.
 
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Petty officialdom often thinks the path of least resistance is to do nothing. Bylaw folks especially. When they have an easy mark, they love to enforce and fine. If the target is scary due to connections, fancy lawyer, or just plain awfulness, suddenly they opt to not enforce.

If you want action, you need to convince them that enforcement *is* the path of least resistance.

As everyone else has said, video. Hearsay is meaningless. Document everything, but above all get video.

Once well supplied with ironclad evidence, if you can afford it, lawyer up. The bylaw folks may respond better to a lawyer. The property owner might also... Certainly talk to media. Seek letters of support from other neighbours.


Re: fencing, in BC the law says I can bill my neighbour for half the fence cost. Never heard of it being done without prior agreement, but the law says no such agreement is needed... don't suppose that might be the same in your province?


Be prepared for things to get worse before they get better..

Good luck.
 
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Yikes.
I would also fence up as soon as possible. It sounds like these people will probably eventually end up moving on (that much chaos, something's gotta give) but it is likely things will get worse before they get better. Start with securing your own perimeter and then see what's next (sounds like the situation is changing quickly). I would go with a call to whatever animal welfare agency you've got.
 
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From your description I'm wondering if their "kennel" is actually a cover for a dog-fighting operation.

Either way, media attention and strong fences are in order.

And don't be afraid to protect your dog by shooting the ones bullying her. You are the alpha of her pack. She needs you.
 
Rufus Laggren
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Matt

I want to add a thought about this situation. My post detailed some _bad_ things that you can do to really make it clear to these people that their behavior is not acceptable and won't be accepted. From your initial post, all those things may be appropriate. But be aware that this _is_ a fight and it will escalate. I think sometimes in life we need to defend and enforce out personal boundaries seriously. Very seriously. But be as honest and thoughtful with yourself as possible in deciding that _this_ is one of those situations. If you have trusted friends and acquaintances that know  you and can offer real thought (as opposed to knee jerk response), do talk with them. Their input will help you arrange your mind and priorities.

In the fight, the only person who can win it is you. You will use others, like you are using us here at permies, to help you. That is normal and pretty much necessary. Official allies as you can find them, ditto. Even if your efforts create a town committee dedicated to getting this social problem resolved (which would be great!) it's your effort and you must arrange to get what you need from it. I personally see this as normal, but I also assume and require a great degree of personal responsibility for each and every one here on earth and I go to great effort to ensure people shoulder that responsibility. IOW,  fighting your fight is not a carte blanche. You take responsibility for what you do and may end up paying a price for your choices. This is normal and ok in my view, but some people seem to think that being "right" gives them a pass on all the other requirements we face in life. Not so.

So. Fight your fight, trying to do it right while not backing away from what is needed to prevail. All those hero movies? That is the part they don't usually show...


Best luck.
Rufus
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Rufus is wise. No matter what, this is YOUR fight, and you have to operate this battle in the way that makes the most sense for you, your family, your community and your lifestyle.

Gun play may just "up the ante" or get "animal lovers on the side of the neighbors or cause the guns to be pointed at YOUR family, stock or pets...

What I can say, is I adopted an attitude of baffling them with intelligence. When the called me a F'ing C, I would look at them and comment that if that was the extent of their vocabulary, then I understood why life was so challenging for them; I never stooped to their level, never name called, never yelled, never debased myself. I simply insulted them, calmly, with multisyllabic comments that they had no comeback for and continued on my way. Baffled them with bullshit.

My fear was if I escalated the violence (be it with words or actions) their capacity for it would be far greater than my own - my mantra was "it's not a matter of who is right and who is wrong; it's a matter of who will pay the price". Do not get caught up in self righteousness, and the moral high ground, keep your head down and fight a clean fight, if for no other reason that on the other side of that property line there are also victims of these horrible people - the kids, grandkids and likely the animals.  

Your ultimate goal is to safeguard your family; approach it from the welfare of ALL the involved victims, not just your family. This also plays better with the media and authorities - rather than being the pissed off, abused, "complaining" neighbor you become the salvation for all those being mistreated and abused, next door, and are selflessly operating in the name of public good! If your family benefits, well, BONUS!
 
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I'm so sorry you're dealing with this.  I'd recommend 3 things:
--Get a lawyer.  You're going to be dealing with this for a while.  Run everything you plan to do by them to make sure it's by the book.  (Uh, including whether what you posted violates any laws.)
--Document everything in chronological order.   Where you have evidence, include it.  From now on, add new incidents in a bound notebook, so that you can prove that you didn't rearrange or remove any pages.  If you can put up cameras, including at your door, do so.  Scan the notebook pages and upload to the cloud on a regular basis.  And upload any incident footage to the cloud likewise.  Ask your lawyer how he wants you to document and follow his lead.
--Put up the electric fence.  Put up clear warning signage (in language cleared by your lawyer).

I wouldn't confront them publicly - you'll just be seen as the person causing everyone else discomfort, and they won't want to deal with it.  Media, sure, if your lawyer approves.

Good luck.
 
Matt Leger
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Thanks again for the additional comments and suggestions everyone! It means more than you can possibly imagine. I count my lucky stars that I found this terrific community of like-minded individuals. All the different viewpoints also help a lot to figure out where I personally stand with all this. It all resonates with different parts of my psyche and personality. The trick will be to amalgamate it all together to form a plan, which I have began.

As one person said, I've been consulting with family and friends all along the way and their opinions have also helped a lot. My parents' suggestions, however, are too passive for my liking. In his younger days, my father would have stood next to me, or even in front of me, through all this. He was never one to back down from a fight and always stood up for his family and kids no matter what. He had a temper too but always throttled it in such a way that it never got him in trouble. He was smart about it and demanded justice when we were wronged in any way and for the most part, it usually worked out. These days though his health is failing him so he cannot afford the mental and physical toll these types of conflicts cause which is completely reasonable. I don't blame him at all for pleading with us to simply "ignore it" and "not get involved", his health is number one and I know how hard this has been on us.

It has been extremely taxing on us physically, mentally and emotionally. I would not wish that on any of those I love so I try not to talk about it much. But I am a grown man now and this is my fight, not my father's, and I know his younger and stronger self would back me up if he could. He and my Mom are just worried that something bad will happen to us or their grandkids and rightfully so. It's a slippery slope, but one that I can't walk away from now. I also have two kids of my own who are watching what I do now and how I react to this. I owe them the best possible solution so they can successfully deal with these types of situations themselves if they present themselves to them later in life.

What sucks the most with all this is that I have so many other important things to dedicate my time to. It is the growing season after all, so we have a lot of projects going on around the homestead like gardening, soil amendments, swales, berms, hugel mounds, preparing our chicken coop, fencing in the property and lots and lots of forest farming, just to name a few. I'm also trying to write a book on Hugelkultur which is due with the publisher in August and I'm not even close to being done. This is not to mention working full-time and being a Dad. I know I'm preaching to the choir here. I just hate how this bullshit has been robbing me of my time for these crucial homestead activities. I can only justify it by telling myself that this situation is equally as important, if not moreso. I will walk away stronger one way or another, but I wish it did not have to be this way. No fighting it now, I suppose. It is what it is.

Being that documenting video is one of my strengths, I may also turn this into a blog/vlog of sorts which can serve as more extensive replies and updates. It would probably be therapeutic as an outlet to vent too. But I want you to know that I value every word and every second that you all spend replying to this thread. It has already made a huge difference in my outlook and priorities. So once again, thank you!!! <3

More to come as this all develops.
 
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If you have access to heavy equipment, building a giant hugel berm just inside your new fence will help with the noise. It may or may not be practical.
 
Rufus Laggren
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Hi  Matt

What you said sounds sensible and, yes, it's true "stuff" always happens when there's 20 other things demanding attention. The note about your children seems spot on. Do keep in mind that your attitude and how you approach this problem impacts at least as much as the outcome. That is a very good argument for harkening to Lorraine's low key approach which keeps you balanced and hopefully well away from the crazy edge. But try to monitor the issue over the long term and determine whether it's going in ways that can be acceptable for you and your family. Everything I've ever heard about settling "issues" agrees: Keep that chronological notebook, keep it current and name names. Every phone call, contact, letter, form. Also, your time spent - minimum increment would be, say 5 minutes, then 1/4 hour, 1/2 hour, 1 hour and then it goes up by 1/2 hour each time. Cost$, also. Can you offload any of the related bookkeeping, phone calling, letter writing, form filling, research any of that stuff? Try to use a team  approach because it lessens your strain and provides additional input and also a witness(s) to what's happening.

> schedule
Trying to do _everything_ just like you planned it doesn't usually work as well as dropping and postponing significant parts in order that you maintain enough personal resources to stay healthy _and_ effective. IOW, pace yourself.

Asking for extensions and postponement of some commitments can often be a better choice, I think. Sometimes family culture or our own personal attitude can tempt us to "tough it out" at serious risk to life as a whole. There will be costs involved with various postponements, but I have found that most people understand there are problems in the world and even if they don't have the flexibility to reschedule or bend the rules, they don't hold it against you personally. And sometimes rescheduling turns out to be a better go anyway for other reasons. I always "shoot for the moon" when planning and designing; then as reality takes its toll, numerous things get cut or pushed to the "next phase".  Also, when rescheduling, my personal preference is "in for a dime, in for a dollar" - IOW, cut enough stuff right off to actually make life livable. Don't go nickle and diming it down through the months. Eg. that book? Maybe next year. Even if it's with a different publisher - be willing to shoulder the cost and you'll find yourself in a much better bargaining position. Or not the book? Then whatever big personal resource sink pops up front center in your mind.

The careful and clear way you post leads me think that you will find a way to "get your life back".


Best luck,
Rufus

 
Matt Leger
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Trace Oswald wrote:If you have access to heavy equipment, building a giant hugel berm just inside your new fence will help with the noise. It may or may not be practical.



Great suggestion! Coincidentally, a good friend of mine recently bought a Kubota tractor and is expecting a few attachment soon that would easily do the job. The tricky part will be getting it here, but if there's a will, there's a way! :) I'd so much rather give him my money than some rental shop or random contractor. He's a permie too and when I have a need for something, I always try to trade/barter with a local permie first before taking conventional avenues.
 
Matt Leger
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Rufus Laggren wrote:"Everything you said above"



You're a wise man, Rufus. I'm not sure how exactly your life lead you to be this way and think so clearly about such things, but good on you man! You obviously had your fair share of exeperiences that brought you to think this way. I feel fortunate that you continue to share your wisdom with me. Thank you!

Look at me being all Canadian stereotype and saying thank you too much. But I really am thankful for all you guys and your heartfelt replies!

A short update on where we're at: We had the OPP (provincial police) here again today. The crazy lady next door thought it was perfectly acceptable to yell obscenities into the neighborhood while my kids and I were having a campout. Sound carries here, even with all the trees, so everything she was saying was crystal clear. I gave myself a 'three count' in my head to just try and let it go but after the fourth sentence in a row of "F this and F that", I had had enough. I asked her in my loudest voice (I'm usually very quiet and introverted) to "Watch your mouth! I have kids here and we can hear everything you're saying!". After she continued on, I had no choice but to phone the cops before it escalated further.

Ironically, at the time I was in the middle of making a video on this very topic for my channel. It's not ready yet or I would have shared it. I was obviously interrupted when this commotion started. You'll get a better sense of what we're dealing with when I finish making it, but essentially, at first I didn't want to mix permaculture/homesteading topics with this civil matter but I think I can reconcile the two. I am a Vlogger and a documentarian after all, so I'm a form of Press, right? ;) I'm allowed to document and investigate my findings, especially since they are directly related to my homestead and farm. This is also not just a petty squabble between neighbors. These people are potentially abusive criminals, so I'm covering my tush at every turn and my rifle comes outside with me every time now.

Anyhoo, this was supposed to be short so I'll stop here. I am not done fighting though, not by any means. I'm slowly coming to terms that this whole thing is in fact worthy of my time and energy. Maybe even more worthy than anything I've ever had to deal with in my life. I'm reluctantly starting to accept that the book may never get written and this year's projects may have to be postponed. That's just the way it is. In the end, I'm hoping we will look back on this and be proud of how we steadfastly held on and won back the peace and quiet of our neighborhood, with bonus points for being true to our characters and being morally unwavering.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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This situation is no different from a disease (or fungus or virus) that is harmful and potentially dangerous.  So, yes, you must protect yourself and fight it from all reasonable angles within your abilities.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Rufus Laggren wrote:The careful and clear way you post leads me think that you will find a way to "get your life back".


+1
 
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I have been following this thread with interest.  I ran into a crazy neighbor situation when I lived in MN.  Actually several crazies.   It involved firearms, and I decided to move. The reasons for moving involved far more than the neighbors, but they were a piece of the puzzle.  It turned out to be the best decision I could have made.  Each situation is different.  I hope things turn out well for you.
 
Matt Leger
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John F Dean wrote:I have been following this thread with interest.  I ran into a crazy neighbor situation when I lived in MN.  Actually several crazies.   It involved firearms, and I decided to move. The reasons for moving involved far more than the neighbors, but they were a piece of the puzzle.  It turned out to be the best decision I could have made.  Each situation is different.  I hope things turn out well for you.



Thanks for the reply, John! I appreciate it. And sorry for not writing back sooner. The business of homesteading life got the better of me. I've been pretty productive to say the least. Part time lumberjack, part time mycologist, part time Dad, full time beater-upper of joints and muscles. Haha. I'm sure you can relate.

Any time there are firearms involved in one of these feuds, it's a serious situation for sure. I'm glad you were able to make the right decision for yourself. We've contemplated moving on multiple occasions. It depresses my family every time I bring it up. We just can't let go of our dream without a fight. We would be giving up all our hard work, a great many traditions (of which we have few these days), parts of our cultural identity and a beautiful property that's been in my family for almost 35 years. If it weren't for all those factors at play, we would have already moved by now. It's also a real shame when scumbags like our neighbors can force us to consider doing something we don't want to do, especially something as monumental as selling our house and moving. But like you said, sometimes it's for the best. I just don't know if it's in our best interest yet and I really don't want to find out through more negative experiences. Looks like that's how this is going to play out though. For now, we're just playing the waiting game...

Cheers!
 
Matt Leger
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Quick update on the situation: Last week, a contractor I hired finished putting up a solid cattle fence between the two properties. It's about 4 feet tall, runs all along the South side of our property and was put up entirely with BIG cedar posts and 1 1/2 inch staples. No screwing around! :) The guy did a fairly good job and the price was right, so I may hire him back again to finish the remaining sides. Right now, a one-sided fence is kind of useless, but it's a good starting point. Next will be the front, East-facing property line which would cross the entrance of the driveway and help protect us from the road. This is where I plan to put up a big ol' ranch-style gate that will allow me to lock our vehicles in at night, lock unauthorized vehicles out and would add some charm to our front entrance. It will start to look like a real homestead after that! A ranch gate was something on our wish list from the start, way before the neighbors came along, so it's something we would be doing for us at the same time.

The next stage will be adding "No trespassing signs" to the fence posts (so all their puppy buyers can see we've had problems with them) and expanding our camera system from 4 channels to 8 channels. It may seem ridiculous but we have to film our signs or they will be destroyed like our bark control unit and the cops won't do anything about it (again). To make this even more ridiculous, we have to put the camera way up high in a tree so the camera itself doesn't get damaged by them AND also put another camera there just to film the first camera. A camera filming a camera filming a bunch of signs. This is what my life has become! Haha! I've reluctantly accepted it now.

To tie it all together, we are putting in a full-scale alarm system that will connect to the cameras and provide us with door contact and motion detection for the inside of our home as well. It may seem paranoid and excessive but I assure you, if you all had experienced what we have with these people in the last year and a half, you'd be thinking the same thing... or you would have moved by now, trust me.

Finally, after the fence, camera system and alarm system are up, we're going to finally bring in some farm animals (pigs, chickens, goats, possibly a dairy cow or two, we'll see). I will feel much better about keeping them secure with a perimeter fence and subsequent sub fenced-in areas, plus electric fencing. It gives us something to build on, not to mention many possibilities for vining plants.

That's the plan anyway, and I think it's a good one. From what I understand, good home (homestead/farm) security is all about adding layers, not unlike building soil. The more layers you add, the more secure your property becomes. That's exactly what we plan to do too - add a metric shit-ton of layers. (And yes, that's a scientific unit of measurement here in Canada ;) )
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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I am glad you have wind back in your sails. You are in the right. Fight the good fight!

And technically, it's a "metric shit-tonne."  ;-)
 
Matt Leger
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote: it's a "metric shit-tonne."



Haha! I stand corrected.
 
See ya later boys, I think I'm in love. Oh wait, she's just a tiny ad:
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/greenhouse
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