Good Neighbors

Have I ever mentioned that we call our place “Sagging Acres”? The fences are sagging, the barn roof is sagging, the horse’s back is sagging and the adult humans’ energy is sagging. There is so much work to do here it makes me tired just thinking about it! I read stories about single women who build their own houses and maintain huge pieces of property and…well, it is unimaginable to me!So when we experienced some recent problems, we learned a big lesson. We are never alone. And God intended for us to work together.

I was gone for a short vacation with the children when Jurgen, my husband, fell. He was in the backyard feeding the dogs and stumbled on something. He hit his head on the wall of the house and lost consciousness. The day had been a rainy one, so we didn’t expect anyone to be dropping by.

But John, a dear friend, drove into the field carrying tools to prop up our sagging barn. He worked by himself for a while, wondering why Jurgen wasn’t coming out to say “hello.” Finally, he decided to go to the house. After searching the inside of the house, he discovered Jurgen outside. It was just an extra blessing that he was a paramedic in a former life!

When I came home, I looked around at our five-acres and felt a renewed concern that it might be too much for us. “This is a lot to keep up with and we aren’t doing a very good job,” I told myself. But that’s when our second angel arrived.

Judith’s daughter Brigit entered this photo in the county fair.
It’s titled “The Demand-Better-Hay Committee.”

Mary is Brigit’s horse teacher. Unexpectedly, she learned that her life had to change. She needed to move and had no place for her horses. So we offered our stalls and pasture. What could be better than adding three more horses to our Sagging Acres barnyard?!

Soon we discovered the wonder of Mary. She works so hard wherever she is. She has organized and cleaned out our barn, which is no longer sagging. She made a new, sturdier pen for the goats. She is ready to help with our animals whenever we need her. Her horses are talking to our horse and donkey and all of them are perking up.

What a blessing it is to have community!

It’s the nature of rural living, isn’t it? Good people and traditional values mean people look out for each other. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be in a city.

We wanted to repay John for fixing our barn. But he wouldn’t take money so we offered two dead lawn movers he was willing to take off our hands. Being more mechanically inclined, he took them home and repaired them with ease. So then he thought he should repay us! Actually, he is simply full of kindness. He came a few days ago to mow down the weeds that were growing high in our front yard.

There is always a lot to do on a farm – but with help, all things are possible! The fences may still be sagging here, but our spirits are soaring. If this keeps up we may just have to change the name of this special place!

About the author: Judith Costello and her family live at “Sagging Acres” in rural New Mexico. Judith and her husband Jurgen Haver created the website

About Judith Costello

A certified art therapist, Judith is the author of numerous articles and books on parenting and child development, including Zen Parenting. She writes from Moriarty, New Mexico.

One thought on “Good Neighbors

  1. Judith,

    I’m glad to see you’ve discovered the blessings of having a close knit community. Yer quite right, living in the city can be tough. Even though we’re packed in like sardines in a can, no one talks to a one another. I try to say howdy to all my neighbors when I see them, but they just look at me like I’m crazy and hurry off. California is definetly not like where I grew up in Denver, or even how life in at my grandparents place in Illinois. But while there isn’t much of a community in my neighborhood, I’ve at least found a community of like-minded folks online that I can turn to for answers and ideas when I need them!

    I do alot of reading, particularly about ancient cultures and tribal peoples. There is one undeniable truth that I’ve come across in my research: Human’s did not evolve as rugged individualists. We were created as innately social creatures who work together in groups to make a living. For a long time, that group was the tribe. Then the rural village. Looking back on history, problems began when populations began to get to dense, when there were to many people living in a small area. You could deal with the village becoming a Town, but people were cranky and you didn’t know ALL your neighbors. When the Town grew into a City, well then you had to isolate yourself just to survive. Ironically the more people there were, the less of a “community” there was.

    I remember watching a PBS show called The Human Animal once, hosted by psychologist Desmond Morris where they talked about the psychological pressures of high population density. To illusstrate it, they did an experience in New York City and in a rural village in Italy. They had an actor lay down on the street and pretend to be ill. In New York, people stepped over the actor and paid them no attention, and aid did not come for 2 hours. In the rural village, aid came within 10-15 minutes. Mr. Morris went on to explain that the human mind can’t deal with recognizing hundreds and thousands of individuals. It becomes overwhelmed. It was geared to recognized between 30 and 60 faces. In a city of millions, a crowd of people becomes more like a forest of trees, merely obstacles to be avoided instead of other humans to be recognized, greeted and acknowledged.

    I’ve always remembered that lesson, and I’ve seen it at work time and time again as people in the city band together into social clubs (and into gangs). They are creating their own tribes, their only little communities where they can feel comfortable and at peace. Full of people they can lean on for support when they need to. You’ve got something special Judith, I don’t think there are but 4 people I could call on for help, and they’d never just show up out of the blue without me asking.