Our fence has become the talk of the neighborhood. Once we knew it was going in, Tim started clearing out some of the scrub bushes that line the rear of the backyard. I helped a little with sawing some of the taller branches, but he's done it almost entirely himself over the last few weeks. I have gardening, and he has this :) His cleaning out brought two of our back neighbors out. They are both retired older men, and they love to come and chat (I think Tim's actually spent more time talking to our one neighbor than he has actually clearing the debris--the neighbor is quite chatty!)
Our rear neighbor saw Tim piling and bundling branches, and he offered to shred the branches in his mulcher and split the mulch. It was an unbelievably kind offer--the mulcher is quite a bit of manual labor. Tim's helped him when he was home, but this neighbor actually took care of most of the branches. Our other rear neighbor commented on how this is now the best the yard has ever looked. I guess the previous owners weren't much for landscaping (which was obvious by the amount of brush that had overgrown).
Both of those back neighbors have always been very nice, and they also completely understand why we want a fence. It would be useful for any house with a dog and a baby, but they also know there is another reason: our neighbors.
Our side neighbors are a real handful, and both of the rear neighbors have few kind things to say about them. We've tried to be polite since day one, but there are definitely several behaviors that bug us. Here's a non-exhaustive list:
-they have three dogs. BIG dogs (near 100 pounds). Two dogs are left in their back (fenced) yard to bark all day. They are also let into the side fenced area at all hours in the night to bark (which is less than ten feet away from our family room).
-their one dog escapes within five minutes of being put out. Almost every time. Which means we see them walk through our yard every day to get the dog. Another rear neighbor (who is a little off) brought the dog over a few weeks ago and threatened to call the police. I wish she would have.
-their third dog is old and nearly blind. Since she can't keep up with the two younger dogs, they let her out in the front yard. Unsupervised. She will walk right over to our front yard, squat, and poop. We'll say, "Jesse, go home. Jesse, GO HOME! Jesse, . . ." Sometimes the neighbors are standing in their driveway, see this, hear us telling her to leave (which she doesn't, since she's also nearly deaf), and just lets it happen. We don't let Macgyver poop in the front yard, and yet there are piles of dog turds everywhere.
-They have three kids. The kids are friendly, but they absolutely have no boundaries. They walk (and bike!) through our back yard and front yard constantly. And they don't just stick to walking along their fence. They walk within a few feet of our front window, and they walk through our back yard by our back steps. We've talked to our neighbor about it. He said that they walk to school, and they stick to the fence. We grudgingly said they could walk along the fence, but we didn't want the neighborhood kids going through.
-In the winter, you can follow the tracks from their garage, through our yard, jumping into our snow piles along the driveway (and knocking it back into the driveway), dragging their sled behind them. Now, we do have sidewalks. And we try hard to keep them clean. Instead, they just walk through the middle of our yard. They don't even try.
-They ride their bikes in our driveway. They once asked Tim if they could color with sidewalk chalk in our driveway (last summer, before Sophie could even crawl). Tim said that once their driveway was totally full with chalk, then they could ask again. We didn't hear back from them.
-They are those people who just let their kids go and figure the neighborhood will take care of them. They ride in the street and don't look for cars. They yell and scream. And then the parents stand on the front stoop and scream for them to come home.
-And let's not even talk about the fireworks on the fourth of July. The ones they blow up right next door until the police come. The ones that are so big they shake the windows in our house. We've given up--we just leave and come back late.
Now, they do try to be friendly. They'll wave and talk. Tim ran into the woman neighbor the other day, who mentioned how nice the yard was looking. She asked if we were getting a fence, and Tim said we were. That was that.
Last night, we were out playing with Sophie after dinner. We talked with the rear neighbor for a while, and the side neighbor came out right as Sophie starting tantrum-ing. We waved and went inside. We went to the store, came home and gave Sophie a bath (she peed on the potty for the first time too--yay!), put her to bed, and Tim went out to put the garbage on the curb.
He had been gone for a while, so I came out to check on him. He was just coming back into the garage with a very strange look on his face.
"Is everything ok?" I asked.
"I'm almost done. Wait until you hear this," he said.
He came back in a few minutes later, still wearing the same strange expression. I asked him what was up.
"I was out putting the garbage out, and [neighbor man] came over to talk. You'll never believe what he said."
"Uh oh," I said, "this is never good."
"He mentioned the fence, and he said, 'hey, I've got a favor to ask you. My kids use your yard every day to walk through to get to school. Could you put a gate in the back part of the fence? Then they could keep using the yard. I'd pay the difference between the gate and the regular fence. If not, I'm going to have to put a gate in my fence.' "
"No he didn't!" I said (along with a few other choice comments). "Who in their right mind thinks they have the right to ask that! First, he just admitted that his kids trespass every day. Second, does he not think we are getting the fence to keep people out? Third, why would we want a gate there? We'd have to leave it unlocked, along with the gate in the front of the fence, so they could walk through. Which negates the privacy aspect. And all I need is to let Sophie and Macgyver out, have the gate left open by one of them, and then the baby or the dog gets out!"
I was seething, and Tim was slowly coming out of being stunned and getting angry himself. I could barely talk. Why would someone even ask that!!! You have to have a lot of . . . guts. . . to think you have the right to infringe on someone else's property that way!!!
Tim had been too shocked at the time to respond to the neighbor's request, but his thoughts were the same as mine: no freaking way.
I already know that their dog will escape, and he'll probably end up in our yard a few times. But they can climb over their fence to get him. And if he can jump their fence, he can jump ours too. But if I see a kid in our yard once the fence is up, I'm going to lose it. After hearing this yesterday, it makes me want to fence our front yard in too!!!
I am still flabbergasted about this. On what planet do you think this is ok? I think we've been very polite--maybe too polite--with everything else. They have apologized when we've brought their jailbreak dog home, but they've never done anything to prevent him from getting out again. I know a lot of our neighbors think of us as these "young kids." Too bad--we own this house, it's our yard, and we're not going to be doormats.
Tim plans to tell him no the next time he sees him. If I see him, I may tell him no along with a few other choice comments. The fence is going ahead as planned in the next few weeks. In my opinion, it can't happen soon enough! Tim was joking that we need barbed wire on top to keep kids out. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but I do wish we could afford a six foot vinyl fence instead of a four foot chain link.