Country Living Series

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First rule of country living

Yesterday morning. I'm far out in the pasture, walking the dogs. My husband is in his shop. The kids are occupied doing something. I see a UPS truck drive up the road past our property and pause at our gate at the end of the driveway.

The gate has been shut lately because we have two cows, two calves, and two bulls (soon to be one bull) loose in the driveway area. Our "driveway" is actually the driveway plus the area immediately around the house, and is about half an acre in size. We've been keeping the cow/calf pairs here because the wooded area is so muddy the little calves would sink up to their bellies. And the bulls just like hanging around the cows and keep jumping fences to join their girls (fences, as you remember, are largely decorative).

Anyway, that's why the driveway gate has been shut. We have no desire to chase down assorted bovines running amuck on our neighbors' properties.

So the UPS driver stopped his truck, hopped out, opened the gate, and drove up to the house. No problem. He placed the package on the porch, turned his truck around, and departed.

And left the gate OPEN behind him.

I'm sorry, am I missing something here? Wasn't that gate CLOSED when you got here? Do you think it might have been closed for a REASON?

It's kind of like opening the front door to someone's house, dropping something inside, and leaving the front door open as you depart. HELLOOOO?

Don't get me wrong, I'm certain this UPS driver was busy. It can't be any fun for him to have to trundle up nearly two miles of unpaved pothole-y dirt road only to hassle with a gate on top of it all. I know UPS drivers are often stressed for time. I get all that.

But can you fathom the implications of leaving a gate open on a farm? Escaping livestock is no small deal. Thankfully we're well off the paved road, but escaping livestock have been known to get onto highways and cause fatal accidents. At the very least, it means spending anywhere from an hour to several days rounding up stray animals and shooing them where they're supposed to be - all because someone was too damned LAZY to spend an extra TEN SECONDS closing the damned GATE.

The first rule of country living, they say, is to LEAVE A GATE THE WAY YOU FOUND IT. If it's open, leave it open. And if it's closed, for God's sake LEAVE IT CLOSED.

If we hadn't been home - if the driver had delivered the package and then left, leaving the gate open behind him - our livestock would be out. Period.

As soon as I returned from walking the dogs (closing the yard GATE behind them), I hightailed it down the driveway and closed the driveway gate.

I'd add a snarky comment about "Where you born in a barn?" to this driver, but if he's been born in a barn it would imply that he'd been born on a farm, in which case he would already KNOW the importance of keeping closed gates closed.

Gate OPEN.




  1. I hope you called UPS. That really could end up costing them a lot of money, not to mention ticked off customers.

    Bill Smith

  2. You are "masking" Patrice, tell us how you really feel. HA HA. And the kicker is, that it is a simple gate to close, not even made of wire and poles that you have to drag back into place and "hug" it with the next pole and put wire around it to close it.
    You may want to call UPS and complain to them as this could have been a huge problem, because this driver couldn't be bothered to take 7 seconds and close the gate. Let them know that it could end up costing them quite a bit if the livestock caused an accident and someone was hurt or, heaven forbid, killed. (Start talking dollars and they will sit up and take notice.)
    Until then, grit your teeth, grumble under your breath about stupid people, shut the gate and be thankful that you live on a farm :).

  3. We get UPS drivers coming through our place of business everyday and I have noticed how reckless they can be most of the time. They blast through R.R. crossings moving cars not controlled by an engine without even looking at all. Long story short, now I have to guard the road everytime we move rail cars unless I'm the one doing the moving.

  4. What the heck was he leaving the gate open behind him on his trip up to the house? It only takes a few seconds for livestock to figure out the gate is open. We have 5 autogates on our long road in, but the neighbor has 3 wire gates with cheaters to open and close and the UPS guy never misses a beat...maybe your guy is a city dude and needs a lesson in country etiquette.

  5. Yes, tell UPS. If the driver didn't know, and let's assume he didn't, then he NEEDS to know how important that is. Other drivers should be aware as well.

  6. We have a sign posted on our gate, "Please Keep Gate Closed". I have also seen one that says, "Rule #1, If it's open, leave it open, If it's closed, leave it closed." This way, those "born in the city" do not have any excuse.

  7. In his book, "How to be Invisible" J.J. Luna stated the first rule of safety, "Never, ever again tie your name to your home address." This has already proved life-saving to me. As for the gate...

    I have neighbors who don't know what a shut gate, and no trespassing sign means. Were they born in a city??

    They had dogs that barked and ran (no, of course not on THEIR property!) all night long. The neighbor's answer? "Oh, they're just chasing deer." What???

    Confine your dogs.
    Be respectful.
    Consider your neighbors.
    20 - 640 acres is usually enough buffer from bad neighbors.


  8. Just to be silly my calf always got of her acreage. I had no problem bring her back; she just did not want to back in the pasture with her bothers. Good thing that the highway was not what it is now. She and the insane drivers of the road would be killed. An open gate is a disaster in the making. Not funny.