My Homestead: Why You Can’t Come Unannouced

 

This might sound a bit harsh, but my homestead is not a theme park, petting zoo, or quaint local tourist spot. It’s my home. Although I encourage people to ask me questions and I’m happy to grant tours on my own terms, wandering around without consent is never okay. It just isn’t.

My homestead is not a theme park, petting zoo, or quaint local tourist spot. It is my home. Here's the reasons why you can't just stop by unannounced.

This wasn’t the first time this has happened. It’s happened quite a few times before. Let’s chat a bit about why this isn’t okay behavior…

Homestead Livestock Security

As I mentioned, we have chicks running around that could easily fall into danger with unexpected visitors, but there’s so much more. A big issue is bio security. We are a natural/organic/holistic homestead and we take quarantine and bio security very seriously. There are some really bad diseases that can kill off bird flocks and goat herds. That may seem like a dramatic statement, but it’s the truth. 

“Biosecurity means doing everything you can to reduce the chances of an infectious disease being carried onto your farm by people, animals, equipment, or vehicles. It also means doing everything you can to reduce the chance of disease leaving your farm. Healthy herds and flocks contribute to the health of U.S. animal agriculture as a whole. Farm visitors can pose a risk, particularly if they have been on other farms with animals or have recently been in other countries with diseases exotic to the United States. Losses from foreign animal disease outbreaks can also hit close to home with animal deaths, reduced productivity, as well as treatment, labor, and management costs and the loss of valuable genetic material from certain animals.” United States Department of Agriculture, Safeguarding American Agriculture 

The USDA even goes so far to say you should restrict access to your property and your livestock or
poultry, and post a sign. Have one area where visitors can enter. Do not allow visitors near livestock or poultry unless absolutely necessary, and then make sure visitors have clean footwear and clothes. This is actually a very serious issue that goes well beyond the farm being visited. It actually impacts the agricultural system as a whole. 

My homestead is not a theme park, petting zoo, or quaint local tourist spot. It is my home. Here's the reasons why you can't just stop by unannounced.

This is also why we can’t take your animals. I’ve heard it time and time again; you already have chickens, so can you take my four as well? No. No I cannot. My friend Amy at A Farmish Kind of Life summed it up beautifully in her article 7 Reasons You Can’t Rehome Your Pet At My Farm.

Don’t even get me started on people feeding my poultry things they aren’t suppose to have. Or ripping up my lawn to feed the goats. Not cool.

People Security

While 99.9% of the people that stop by uninvited are merely interested in our lifestyle or want to show their kiddos and grand-kiddos real live farm animals (as was the case today), there is still the .1% to worry about. How do I know you aren’t some weirdo? Are you a serial killer? Did I just interrupt a robbery when I caught you in my yard? The answer is I don’t know. That’s scary. I have a husband who would die to protect us all, but I run this homestead while he works outside of the home. It scares the (excuse the language) shit out of me when I catch you in the side yard talking to my children.

In addition to my being a homesteader that needs to keep my livestock safe, I’m a mom who needs to keep my family safe. When you step foot on my property without my consent or knowledge, you are putting my family in danger (whether it’s your intent or not).

Homestead Security

Yeah, theft of our tools would really put a cramp in my day/week/month, but that’s not the home security I speak of. Here’s something a lot of people don’t consider. I live on a residential homestead with regular old residential insurance. If one of my animals injured you or if you slipped on goat manure and busted your head, guess who’s paying for that? Me. 

My homestead is not a theme park, petting zoo, or quaint local tourist spot. It is my home. Here's the reasons why you can't just stop by unannounced.

Theme parks, petting zoos, and tourist destinations have special insurance to protect you from yourself. Safety measures have been put in place to keep people from being harmed. Me? I have garden rakes laying on the ground with prong-side up. I am the only person who risks getting hit in the face like a cartoon comedy sketch thankfully.

Please let me still do homestead outreach…

As of right now, we have cancelled this autumn’s farm tour. I am also working on locations to hold classes off site. I want to promote this lifestyle, but I need to consider what impact it has on my homestead. If anyone has suggestions, please share in the comments below.

And hey, it’s good to know I’m not alone. My friend Carrissa from “down the road a bit” has dealt with it herself. One unexpected visitor could have lost his head. I know I wouldn’t cross her livestock guardian dog. You can read about her visitor violations at Feather and Scale Farm.

My homestead is not a theme park, petting zoo, or quaint local tourist spot. It is my home. Here's the reasons why you can't just stop by unannounced.

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53 Comments

  1. Isn’t living in the country great! We live 20 miles out in the country and that is as close to town I want to be. People amaze me on how they just drive up my drive way and get out like they own it. they think we are country bumkins and think “well doggies someone has came all the way out here they must be important” We don’t want you here stomping around any more than you want us to stomp around your house.

  2. LindaKay Gwin says:

    and don’t bring you dog!! This year alone We have lost 5 ducks, a chick, my best laying hen and a turkey!!The bear attack, while sad, I could handle but visitors with their “playful” pups not so much. It happens so fast, before “don’t let your dog out of your car ” is out of the homesteaders mouth the dogs are on the birds. It makes us sound mean, I know. I can live with that.

  3. Heidi Villegas says:

    I am so sorry about your frustrations. I share them too. we have folks from town stop by because they think it’s fine, not understanding the amount of work that needs to get done. Not to mention the people who think it’s ok to feed our animals over the fence. It’s ridiculous. I know we have insurance, but shouldn’t there be some “dumb axx” clause??? Just saying. ? But I think educating other’s is key. Signs explaining your position are undeniable. Thank you for posting this article. It certainly touched on o ne of my irritations.

  4. Grandmas House DIY says:

    This was such a good article! I have no idea why people seem to think that if you have a farm or a homestead then you are suddenly a petting zoo of some kind. There’s a U-pick blueberry patch that is accessed by an easement over our property (right through our yard…) it is absolutely horrible for three months every single summer. I’ve had people on my back deck, in my barn, eating lunch in my yard, sitting by my fire pit and feeding my horses even though the signs clearly say PRIVATE PROPERTY and the way is well marked so there is absolutely no reason for anyone to stop here but to proceed directly to the blueberry patch. I totally get what you’re going through and it is SO frustrating, we finally had to block our driveway off when the blueberries were closed which helped but was also really annoying. People don’t seem to think at all! I mean, seriously, would they like it if we just waltzed onto their homes and property?

  5. I started reading, why is she having to write this, surely……,then you wrote people were actually in your yard talking to your children! Yea, scared the shat(past tense) out of me, too! Good grief!!! Are people really that stupid?? Or just not thinking?? You need some good guard dogs. You know the difference between watch and guard dogs? Watch dogs bark: you need to come see about this….; Guard dogs: you just keep your seat, I got this….(you see the difference;).
    Good luck!

  6. Steve, No Place Like Home Farm says:

    Thanks to all for the great info. We have a small farm, with chickens and goats in a residential neighborhood. We have had to deal with this issue on occasion. We have added cameras and signs to deter uninvited visitors, plus we are in the process of moving things around (out of site) to reduce the temptation of uninvited visitors. Will be adding by appointment only signs as well.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow. I’m boggled by how rude people are.

  8. This isn’t just a Farm issue. I have people wandering through my yard in town because they think my garden looks cool. They do this with my kids are playing while I Garden, they do this in the late night with a flashlight. People don’t seem to know the meaning of the word trespass anymore.

    1. I’m thinking a good motion detector light, a Remington 12 Gage and no trespassing signs.should do the trick

  9. It is so interesting that people feel so welcome on farms. We noticed how much people like to visit as well. I am good for planned visits but not impromptu ones. We are always in the middle of something and sometimes that thing is not so pretty, say chicken harvest time?

  10. Jessica: I was so sorry to read about your distressing day. Be encouraged: the best way to combat this type of violation is to educate others, as you have about livestock distress and disease, and, to use the lesson to protect yourself and your family. The idea of a friendly sign letting folks know you are available by appointment ONLY is a great way to start! People use to be taught to respect others personal space; it seems in this day of “instant” recognition, people thing they are automatically a BFF. Please know that their are people out here who recognize your legitimate right to privacy and applaud the gentle way you shared your unhappiness with the situation. Blessings, Ellen

  11. stephanie says:

    I have people stopping by frequently soliciting things/ideas of religious nature. I am sometimes inappropriately dressed (morning chores/jammies…hard sweaty garden digging in tank top and short shorts). They show up when I’m milking a tricky nervous heifer. They show up when I am in a huge time crunch or racing weather headed my way. This is how I see it…this is my JOB. Yes, I am “home” but home is where I WORK.Do you show up at a Doctor’s office? Barge in to a teacher’s classroom? And the biosecurity thing is tricky. I do like it when neighbors stop by, being “neighborly”, but I can see where folks who live in areas that have had issues with disease would be a little concerned. And…bummer :(…pretty upset about this right now actually…today my aussie bit my neighbor today that I did not see drive up or would have put dogs away. My fault…still bummed

  12. Farm family is a great insurance company that is regular homeowners insurance and they offer a rider for farm animals etc to protect you from visitors (whether authorized or not) as well as your animals escaping and causing damage or an accident.

    They are extremely easy to work with, don’t have canine breed restrictions (my chow uses the reps briefcase as a pillow and drooled all over it) AND they will pay you, the owner, to do any repairs from a claim of you are able to do so. They understand farmers do a lot of their own work and repairs but that time is worth money. We had a washing machine flood the house and they paid my husband to rebuild (he is a builder and was out of work at the time). And they cut a check in full to start the work. Super awesome to work with. With the extra money he made for his labor we were able to update the 20 year old kitchen.

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I’ll check that out. Thank you for the tip!

  13. Judy Miller says:

    I’ve always been shocked by the number of people who think it’s ok to stop by, pet, feed, even set their small children up on the back of my horses. These people are occasionally neighbors, but most often strangers. I’ve stopped people with an entire grocery sack filled with apples they intended to feed my mare who then say, “But horses love apples.” Ok, and I occasionally share an apple with them, but not an entire bag at one time and certainly not apples which I have no idea where they came from. I even had one guy who told me it was ok for him to be on private property, feeding my animals inappropriate ‘treats’ because he was a cop. Where do these people get these ideas? After removing a strange two year old carefully from the back of an Arab mare standing in my paddock, I tried to explain to the total stranger mother that this was a 2,000 pound animal which could easily injure or even kill her child. I was met with blank looks and disbelief that such a sweet horsey would do such a thing. She wasn’t even holding the child on and was on the other side of a fence. The kid could have fallen or been tossed off, stepped on, etc. And for the idiots feeding them, the concept of what those large teeth and strong jaws could do to their hand, arm, child, etc just doesn’t compute.

  14. Judy Miller says:

    I’ve always been shocked by the number of people who think it’s ok to stop by, pet, feed, even set their small children up on the back of my horses. These people are occasionally neighbors, but most often strangers. I’ve stopped people with an entire grocery sack filled with apples they intended to feed my mare who then say, “But horses love apples.” Ok, and I occasionally share an apple with them, but not an entire bag at one time and certainly not apples which I have no idea where they came from. I even had one guy who told me it was ok for him to be on private property, feeding my animals inappropriate ‘treats’ because he was a cop. Where do these people get these ideas? After removing a strange two year old carefully from the back of an Arab mare standing in my paddock, I tried to explain to the total mother that this was a 2,000 pound animal which could easily injure or even kill her child. I was met with blank looks and disbelief that such a sweet horsey would do such a thing. She wasn’t even holding the child on and was on the other side of a fence. The kid could have fallen or been tossed off, stepped on, etc. And for the idiots feeding them, the concept of what those large teeth and strong jaws could do to their hand, arm, child, etc just doesn’t compute.

  15. Hi Jessica, I agree with you whole-heartedly. It all comes down to common courtesy along with the willingness to learn from those who are “in the know” re: farm life, etc. One of the precious resources from whom to learn is obviously you!?
    Unfortunately, natural human nature wants nothing to do with warning signs, verbal admonitions, etc. Human nature chooses pride, arrogance, and a “know-it-all” attitude/”rules are for everyone else-not me, I’m in charge”.
    Sure hope many will read your article and truly take it to heart. Many blessings to you, your family, and your farm. Carol

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      Thank you Carol!

  16. Martha Hart says:

    Wow. I would never presume I had permission to wander about someones yard blogger, homesteader or not. I could feel your distress, so sorry.

  17. do you have a sign that says ‘tours— by appointment only’? or a no trespassing sign?

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I don’t, but I’m thinking I need one.

      1. Denise Schrader says:

        We have a No Trespassing sign at the end of our drive, but it does not stop people. I have come home to strangers walking thru my Husbands shop , driving slowly around the back of our house & even looking in the lean-to. I have met more than one trespasser with harsh words & a 22.

  18. Omg. I can’t believe how ignorant people are. I don’t live on a homestead, i live in a rwgular houae in the city where you just expect people to come up to the door, and it drives me crazy. Heaven help them if i ever find someone wandering through my yard! I also have concerns that if someone enters my yard, my dog could bite them, and then i get fined and he could get taken away/destroyed. All because someone doesnt respect boundaries. I’m so sorry to hear this intrusion happened to you.

  19. Couldn’t agree more with this article. Some days I feel like we’re running a petting zoo. We have neighbours who feel they can drop by “whenever”, just to bring their children to see the animals. While I appreciate that they want their kids exposed to farm life, it is very distracting. Farm work doesn’t take a break because little Jessica wants to see the bunnies. The biosecurity issue has raised it’s head in a big way around here lately. We had a poultry farm 5 miles away quarantined for avian flu. Now, the first question visitors are asked is “when was the last time you were at a farm?” If I don’t like the answer, sorry but no visit today. At this time of year, our beehives are also a big worry. Our colonies tend to get very aggressive in fall, and sometimes people don’t seem to hear what you’re saying. If I tell you you will get stung if you get too near, I mean it. I wish signs helped, but they don’t seem to. Good luck and keep us updated with your progress on this issue.

  20. I didn’t think of the biosecurity issue earlier today when we talked. I try to also keep visiting to minimum. I brought a strain of coccidiosis to my flock by accidentally forgetting to change my shoes before going to my poultry area. It really does happen! We don’t take our animals off site where there will be other animals normally. I take them to programs at schools and churches for programs rather than have the people come to us. I hope your changes are successful.

  21. Delci @ Heritage Club Stables says:

    I’ve actually never thought about this before as far as introducing disease. Around here we all have livestock of some sort and stop in and around animals all the time. Something to think about! πŸ™‚

  22. Just found your blog today and I love it!
    Do you have a gate that you could keep closed and locked with a big sign that says “Visits & Tours by Appointment Only”

  23. And the excuse, “I grew up on a farm and just miss it!” doesn’t fly, either. If you really grew up on a farm, you would so know better than to come onto someone’s property without their permission for all the reasons you just outlined. Grrrrr.

  24. Connie Meyer says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. We have people who want to stop by our urban homestead because they hear the chickens or have heard about what we do in our backyard. Fortunately, our backyard is only accessible through two side gates, one of which is padlocked and the other has a locking mechanism that can’t be reached from the ‘wrong’ side of the gate. And yes, trespassing is trespassing. How would they feel if I walked into their house, uninvited, poured myself a cup of coffee, ransacked their ‘fridge, and then sat at their kitchen table?

  25. Angela England says:

    Around here if you wander into someone’s property without their knowledge you are absolutely putting yourself at risk of being shot. Hahaha dumb. Common sense says…trespassing is er…trespassing.