Peggy Sanders
Oral, S.D.

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June 2, 2014
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Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 6-2-14

How has your area landscape changed over the past few years? Is your neighborhood filling in or thinning out? One of the biggest changes here are the center pivot irrigation systems that hover over the fields during the summer watering season, looking like lonely dragons on the expanses. There are many pivots here in the neighborhood now. They are boons to our farming ventures as they make the workload easier. Pivots also utilize the irrigation water more efficiently. The crops are evenly, slowly watered so there is not water running down the drain ditches. We like these additions to the community.

We have new human neighbors too. A young man who grew up here, went to college and returned to farm has recently moved a house onto his property. He doesn’t have his yard light up yet, but we appreciate his presence and his house lights. After years of declining population, we are growing again. Our rural area has had the good fortune to have several young people and their expanding families move in. This fact may be contrary to the national trend but it’s certainly welcome here.

These youngsters and other newcomers are learning from the older generation the meaning of being a neighbor. Without being asked, farmers who have tractors and the capability of moving snow from yards, drive into neighbors’ yards, move the snow and then go about their business. They don’t have to call and inquire if they can “trespass.” The neighbors don’t have to ask for snow removal; it just is done. No contracts, no money is involved, and a word of thanks is sufficient. That is the way it’s done in the “Old West.”

The “New West” residents don’t seem to know how to be neighborly. They tend to think doing so is being intrusive, nosy or some other form of annoyance. A case in point was Ed, who had lived along a rural road for many years started seeing his neighborhood fill up with people who would not wave let alone appreciate any help. One day as Ed was driving to his home, he came across a young boy who had wrecked his bicycle. Ed stopped to help. The boy’s father drove up right then, gave Ed a look that could kill, grabbed the boy and his bike and took off. No word of thanks, no greeting, no appreciation ... in short no acknowledgment for Ed’s neighborliness. Isn’t that sad?

It is occurrences like this which makes us leery of the “New West,” landowners. I say landowners because many of them are not residents more than a few weeks per year. They have no sense of community nor desire to participate in anything that would indicate being neighbors. Maybe they came from a city and jobs where they were smothered in human contact and want to just hibernate. That does not give them an excuse to be rude to people who try to help.

If they want to be left alone, they may find that when they need help, it is no longer available. Neighboring works both ways.

Peggy writes from the family ranch and enjoys her new neighbors. Her email latchstring is out at Peggy@PeggySanders.com. ❖


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The Fence Post Updated May 29, 2014 12:12PM Published Jun 23, 2014 02:02PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.