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UPDATE AT POST 75: Keeping the Farm Safe From ... "Family"

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  • UPDATE AT POST 75: Keeping the Farm Safe From ... "Family"

    I would really like some input from those of you who have perhaps more experience at this than me. We have a lovely little farm here - 20 acres with a three-acre fishing lake, a 6-stall barn, four well-mannered horses, a swimming pool, a big "yard," and a place to play basketball. We also have a large extended family of city-dwellers ... and a long tradition of hosting 4th of July reunions. Well, I started all of that 30+ years ago, when I lived in a small town and could only offer a big back yard and that "small town flavor" to my city-dwelling family.

    Through the years, the tradition continues and the family grows. And now, I have this little farm (for the past five years) and EVERYbody wants to come here for the 4th of July.

    We had 35 people here yesterday!

    Here's the deal -- one family brought TEN extra people, friends of theirs, that I did not even know. Nice enough folks, but dragging toddlers around. Clueless, acting like this was a trip to a petting zoo / amusement park and not someone's home.

    Another member of the family lives in Canada -- so not a daily problem -- but they show up and their 6-year-old son is Satan's spawn. I am not kidding, there is something terribly WRONG with this child --he's the kind of kid who you just know is going to burn the barn down just to watch the flames. He runs out to the barn (unsupervised), where I am showing horses to the 90-year-old grandmother. Kid climbs up on a tack box and JUMPS ONTO THE GRANDMOTHER, taking her straight to the ground. Later, the story goes that one of my horses scared him and he fell into the grandmother -- all accidental. This was not the case. My horse did nothing, the kid did not FALL, he intentionally tackled grandmother to the ground.

    Wind up the evening with about $200 worth of fireworks (or more), after I had said it would be okay for the little kids to have poppers and sparklers. And OF COURSE one of the "roman candles" falls over and shoots across the yard instead of into the air. No harm done -- this time.

    Whew ... now the question. I know THAT is never going to happen again. But -- is there a way I can share this farm with my family without having this mad house and liability? I do not want to be the mean old lady who won't let anybody have any fun. The other children were well-behaved and had ever so much fun catching fish down at the lake with a very responsible uncle. Ninety percent of the people are responsible -- but no one will corral the 10 percent lunatics.

    Short of just calling the party off forever (which I am definitely considering) -- are there diplomatic ways of protecting yourself, your farm and your animals while still allowing city-folk family to enjoy it, too??
    Last edited by King's Ransom; Jul. 3, 2012, 01:51 PM.

  • #2
    no good answer for you

    my own mother (non-horsey) kept inviting her friends (non-horsey) to wander amidst my horses -- over and over I asked her not to (visions of alpha mare telling gelding to move and him knocking over an old lady and breaking her hip)

    after I taught the goat the game of bull-fighting - no more visits
    Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

    The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”


    • #3
      That's a difficult one...

      I hope you find some answers, but maybe taking a time out on the family party may be a good idea.

      Sounds like people are starting to take advantage. Maybe another family member could host the group next year.

      Good Luck.

      And I'm glad the Grandmother wasn't hurt by scarily unwieldy child. I know that my children can be wild, but my 6 year old knows better than to act so stupidly and dangerously.


      • #4
        You do know...

        that you just invited all of us over to your place next July don't you???

        Really, you just need to be completely honest with the entire family and say that it's gotten way out of hand, and that you'll have to scale down. Way down. No friends of the family, no one that is not directly related to you by birth or marriage. The alternative is that you WILL cancel the party and then all the "good" relatives should gang up on the offenders.

        I have no real help on the Devil child, except to inform it's mother, that no matter how much she loves him, if he acts up again, you will have no problem asking them to leave in a public fashion.


        • #5
          Propose a potluck cook-out at a local park next year. Offer to supply the beverages, and everyone brings what they want to grill and a side dish to share. Lots of parks in my area have shady picnic areas with basic charcoal grills. There might be one in your area that will have their own fireworks display as well.

          You've done more than your share; it's time for either someone else in the family to step up, or everyone join in to make it truly a family affair. Good luck next year!
          Equus Keepus Brokus


          • #6
            Been there, done that. Turned into the crazy lady who does not like company.

            Farms seem to bring out the worst in some people. They see it as a private playground that they get to enjoy for free. While you get to feed them, clean up, and try to ride herd on their kids.

            My farm is my home, and my sanctuary. You get to come here by invitation only.

            You don't see me running wildly thru YOUR home do you?
            Facta non verba


            • #7
              Make sure you are emphatically and very clearly OUT OF TOWN next July 4th.

              Then cancel your "trip" on July 3rd.
              Click here before you buy.


              • #8
                Lawndart is totally right. And if the 6 year old was ever near my property again I'd borrow a taser from someone, and no I'm not kidding about him. That brat could have hurt that woman terribly, and she could have died from injuries, and guess who's insurance is on the hook for that? And guess who's paying for what the insurance won't? Yep-it's all going to come back and get you. This definitely comes under the heading of no good deed going unpunished.

                Actually, I'm sure your insurance agent would have a coronary if they knew what a circus the fourth has turned into at your lovely, formerly quiet place. It's not fair to the good ones to cancel everything because of the 10% (and who the hell thinks it's ok to bring 10 extra people anyway?), but life isn't fair and getting sued into total poverty isn't fair either. And there's no way that a relative would have a hesitation about suing you either-the worst lawsuits are people that are clueless about their child's brattiness, and I'm sure that if anything happens to grandma or the kid that you'll get it right in the wallet.

                Someone else can host their 4th party, and Christmas and everything else, and if no one does then that tells you how little the rest want to reciprocate. People are definitely taking advantage of you and it's time you had a chance to enjoy yourself. How about next year people go together, rent a big picnic area, and chip in for a caterer? If no one wants to then too bad. You deserve to have fun without running a catering and entertainment operation for people, and I bet the animals will thank you too.
                You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                • #9
                  Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                  Make sure you are emphatically and very clearly OUT OF TOWN next July 4th.

                  Then cancel your "trip" on July 3rd.

                  Like this!
                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                  Incredible Invisible


                  • #10
                    Hand out tools and chores as people arrive, make a workday out of it before sitting down to a big dinner or bbq.

                    Will weed them out in a hurry


                    • Original Poster

                      DH and I have been discussing off-and-on all day. Thank you guys, too, for your input.

                      The six-year-old is never coming back. Period. I generally like children, and like horses I understand that even good ones can have their moments. But this child is not like that. There is something WRONG with him, and worse than that, the adults around him don't want to admit it or address it. He is very predatory. I may not have to make an announcement that he is not coming back, as they do live far away. He was last here three years ago, and that time (as a 3-year-old) he came up behind me while I was sitting on a step and bit a big chunk out of my arm. Unprovoked. He's just got a screw loose.

                      We have not decided for sure whether we are going to be gone next year, or just take super-control over the situation. We have talked about sending out invitations, asking for RSVP, and laying out the "park rules" on the invites.

                      I said poppers and sparklers only this year, but they showed up with an arsenal. And, you know what? I should have just said no. And, I should have sent the child and his family packing, too. I worked hard to get this farm, and DH and I work hard to make it a peaceful, joyful place. Now my job is to protect it. If that means some members of the family get upset and don't come back ... well ... now that would be a gift, right??


                      • #12
                        Send out change of address cards.
                        Have new address be in Madagascar. They don't celebrate the 4th there.

                        You can lay ground rules too. State specifically "Absolutely NO fireworks othet than poppers or sparklers. Any other explosives of any kind will NOT be allowed on property due to livestock present."

                        Or you can get a little sign like I have that says: Friends welcome. Family by appointment only.
                        You jump in the saddle,
                        Hold onto the bridle!
                        Jump in the line!


                        • #13
                          I really sympathize. My DH and I have quite a few friends and family who are city folk, and we run into similar situations with our beautiful, peaceful farm.

                          I've gotten very direct about telling people exactly what they can and can't do on my property--but I'll be honest people don't always take it very well, nor do they always listen, even when it is something simple like, "please don't try to pet that horse, he bites." Sadly, it really takes the fun out of entertaining for me.

                          Since the farm I live on has boarded horses on it, I also have employees, and the last time I had a party at the farm I paid my employees extra to maintain a presence inside the barn during the party and make sure that nothing unsafe happened. The guests had no reason to go out to the barn at all, but IME at least someone always does just stroll on out there without asking. Anyway, that worked pretty well. I was horrified to find out later about what people were trying to do out there--smoke, take children in stalls with young horses, etc, but thankfully my wonderful employees kept things safe.

                          I think it is perfectly reasonable to limit guests, and perhaps the next time you have a party you could pay someone you know to supervise the horses/barn. And you have every right to limit what alcohol is served and limit what fireworks that are going to be set off on your property.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lawndart View Post
                            Been there, done that. Turned into the crazy lady who does not like company.

                            Farms seem to bring out the worst in some people. They see it as a private playground that they get to enjoy for free. While you get to feed them, clean up, and try to ride herd on their kids.

                            My farm is my home, and my sanctuary. You get to come here by invitation only.

                            You don't see me running wildly thru YOUR home do you?
                            This. Inform everyone that the annual free for all is now cancelled, and then next year issue individual invitations by name to folks that you would like at your home, and stress upon them that the invitation is ONLY for those specified therein.

                            All that bullshit is not cool at all. That is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
                            "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Liberty View Post
                              Propose a potluck cook-out at a local park next year. Offer to supply the beverages, and everyone brings what they want to grill and a side dish to share. Lots of parks in my area have shady picnic areas with basic charcoal grills. There might be one in your area that will have their own fireworks display as well.

                              You've done more than your share; it's time for either someone else in the family to step up, or everyone join in to make it truly a family affair. Good luck next year!
                              RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                              • #16
                                I agree, don't host it at your place. Sometimes the simple answer is really the best. Then you won't have any hurt feelings.

                                4th of July to kids = blowing noisy, flashing stuff up into the sky. Pick a different holiday to host at the farm!
                                DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                                • #17
                                  I think I'd plan on being gone next year, just to break the "tradition" of people coming to the farm for the 4th of July. Then the next year, if asked if the party's back on, hem and haw a little and say you haven't decided because you don't know your plans for sure.

                                  Then you can selectively invite a few people, those you trust and value the most, and let them know you're scaling things down. Or tell everyone it's not happening yet again, and at the last minute only let your favorite and best behaved family members know it's back on.

                                  I used to host the annual Christmas party at my home for my husband's family. It grew to over 80 people, and there was always some sort of damage to my home as a result, requiring either an emergency plumber visit, repainting of various walls, carpets repaired, etc. I had the largest home and no one else could host it...besides, it was a tradition, right? How fun for everyone else to come to my house every year! I ended up moving to a tiny house where it's not even an option, and that's really the silver lining to my decision to move. No more party! Then someone suggested a family summer party at my house because while the house is small, it's horse property and they could have so much fun outside! I told them I'd get back to them on that. It's four years and counting.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                    Make sure you are emphatically and very clearly OUT OF TOWN next July 4th.

                                    Then cancel your "trip" on July 3rd.
                                    Seriously - do this. Take a break and break the cycle. You are already second-guessing, creating rules, contingencies. It sounds exhausting!

                                    A break creates a clean slate. Clear boundaries. No one is surprised or bummed or jilted. Re-group. Make the next Fourth very special in some new way - that you will enjoy and cherish. Use your creativity and energy for that, instead of worrying and reacting to what just happened.


                                    • #19
                                      I am not sure if this would work, but I would be tempted to right now while it is fresh in everyone's mind, write a letter basically telling everyone what you told us here, well maybe not identifying devils spawn.

                                      Just note that you realized that the weekend was not really enjoyable for you and that the farm may not be the best place to hold the event.
                                      List some of the dangers, ie uninvited guests, fireworks near a barn, people in horses space, etc.

                                      Let them know you will get back to them regarding next years event when you have had time to think about it and that you have decided there are ways you can still have fun with everyone and keep your place safe.
                                      This will give them time to think about it, maybe think about their own actions and also give them the heads up that next years event may be cancelled, or at the least will be different.

                                      If you leave it until next year, you will remember what happened, but they aren't likely to.

                                      Then you need to decide what you can put up with and what you can't. Are there things you can do differently to make it safer? etc.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                        Make sure you are emphatically and very clearly OUT OF TOWN next July 4th.

                                        Then cancel your "trip" on July 3rd.
                                        It was a toss-up between this and Lawndart's reply

                                        I am originally from the OH/PA border so I wonder if that is why Lawndart's thoughts so closely resemble mine

                                        I will say when I was married to my son's father and his very large family liked to converge on us for holidays, I made it perfectly clear (did I say PERFECTLY CLEAR) to his seven siblings that it was OUR farm and MY RULES. Yessss, we were the only family member that had a farm.

                                        Your kid doesn't abide by the rules and I WILL beat its royal little awrse. They thought I was joking - it only took once twice of my no-jokes a** whuppins for the other moms to figure out those kids better listen or they didn't need to come to the family get-togethers when they were held on our farm.

                                        I even had both my In-Laws on my side for that one

                                        They were a drinking family but they did, at least, have the good sense to stay away from the livestock - they would just sit in the garage and drink, and drink, and drink some more and the women would eat -------I think I used the words "when I WAS married to my son's father - lol lol lol