Sometimes you just can't. Turn a blind eye, that is.
Our ability to play ostrich and bury our heads in the sand, while biting our tongues so as to avoid confrontation has abruptly come to an end, and we've been forced to play a hand we never wanted to hold.
We bought this little property back in 2004 - Our little piece of paradise, we like to call it. It's just enough room to stretch our legs and play hobby farmer. We have views of a half dozen waterfalls out our kitchen window, are a stone's throw to the river, and have a short drive to "town" for whatever we may need. It would be absolutely perfect if it weren't for this niggling little thorn in our side, a boil that has festered and finally burst.
Let me start off by saying that we are happy-go-lucky, live and let live type people who don't ever want to rock the boat, or cast stones, or whatever other cliche fits here. If you're a decent person, we'll get along just fine. We want to be good neighbours and don't wish hardship on anyone - BUT if you jeopardize the health or wellbeing of our children, the gloves come off.
Our neighbour, who shall of course remain nameless, is a stubborn old man stuck in his ways. We like the guy. He's a neat old coot, a gun toting, tractor driving, full blown redneck hillbilly with interesting stories. We talked over the fence about cattle, gardening, politics and everything else under the sun. He'll do what he's been doing since the 70's until the day he dies, happy to be tinkering on something or driving around on his tractor. It's a way of life we look forward to in our own retirement.
The problem is, he's a dirty farmer.
We try not to see the dozens of broken, decaying vehicles or parts, dozens of tires, piles of building materials half hazardly strewn here and there, broken coolers, farm implements, and the like scattered throughout the property. The mountain of garbage that was piled up throughout the year at the roadside for "spring clean up" three years in a row that was finally cleaned up by city workers. Nobody wants to live next to a dump, afterall. Not one complaint was lodged, when others might have screamed "Good Neighbour Bylaw" from the rooftops. We turned that always blind eye and continued a casual friendship despite all these things. We figured we'd let the guy live out the remainder of his days without any additional turmoil.
We also didn't complain about the whole dead cattle or the guts from butchering dozens of animals that are sometimes left for far too long in the sun before they get buried "in the back 40" along his property line, or dumped in holes and buried behind his barn somewhere. He's a farmer, he lives on a farm, animals die sometimes - we assumed that type of behaviour was part and parcel of living rural.
This past Saturday, he pushed us too far and crossed the line by burying three large heaping garbage cans and a 5 gallon pail of meat trimmings (bones, fat, bad meat, veil, possibly organ meats etc) along his property line less than 50 feet from, and directly in line with our well. This area has a high water table, sandy loam - conditions for extreme water contamination. This is our drinking water we're talking about here!
We offered to use our own tractor backhoe equipment to remove the material, dispose of it and bring in new topsoil at our own cost to rectify it. He dodged the issue, played dumb, lied repeatedly, changed his story a few times, and denied us access to his property claiming there was nothing there to worry about. Attempts to have his more level headed son deal with it weren't productive. We've now awoken a sleeping giant, and we're afraid it's going to get very ugly, very quickly. We really wanted to deal with this in a neighbourly fashion and not have to report it to any authorities, but the clock was ticking and time ran out.
Now we have to bring in the big guns. It's a sad little saga indeed.