The Art of Being a Neighbor

“A good neighbor is a found treasure.” Chinese Proverb

I found ME some TREASURE up here in the mountains where I live now. In fact, I’m a little teary eyed writing this post. Do you know how to BE a good neighbor? Have you ever lived in a place full of good neighbors? Do you know how to accept the kindness of neighbors (because accepting and doing are two different things entirely)? I don’t think being a good neighbor comes naturally in this old world any more. I think it’s something we have to learn, to practice. We have to master the Art of Being a Neighbor, of being neighborly, of being only one, yet part of a whole.

You can’t know some things about a place until you move there. Sure, you can check out the schools and the crime rate and all that, but you don’t know the intimacies or dynamics of a place until you get there and become integrated there. My good fortune: the place where I live now is filled with people who  care about each other and help each other. It is filled to the brim with good neighbors. Can you imagine how lucky that is for me, a person who is trying to learn to live on a farm in the country? Huge, it’s huge, huge, huge.

And recently, when I finally got a tractor, it was a true neighborly effort.

So it went like this. You know I’ve wanted a tractor, right? I’ve got 75 acres, surely I NEED a tractor. But.  I don’t know BEANS about tractors. And when I saw the prices, well. That scared me. Do you KNOW how much a tractor costs? Lord have mercy, go and google it right now, but sit down first. Sticker shock. It is no wonder that farmers can’t make any money. There is too much debt on the front end. You work for years just buying the land and equipment.

Anyway.  At this point, I wasn’t exactly sure the uses we had for a tractor; I was just sure we needed one. So I wrote it down.

Why I need a tractor, by Rebekah Teal

I need a tractor so that I can…

Till my garden

Mow the fields

Clean out the barn

Mow beside the mountain stream

Move dirt

Pull a cart for a hay ride

Drive it in a tractor parade

Feel like a REAL farmer

Honey, Can I buy a tractor? Pretty please, with sugar on top?

So when I considered that list, I decided to buy a “bargain” tractor. An older, used one. 2 wheel drive rather than 4 wheel drive because so many people told us a 4 wheel drive will get us in places we (the inexperienced operators) don’t need to be. And you want to know the truth? The older tractors are prettier looking than the new ones. Vintage rocks.


I started stalking craigslist for a good, used tractor. I found myself totally drawn to the old Farmall Cubs. You can see why:

Once I researched them, though, I didn’t think they’d fulfill the things on my list other than the parade driving.

One day I saw an older Masey Ferguson listed. Here’s the best thing about that tractor: it came with attachments. That’s huge. Buy a tractor with attachments. Yes, put that advice in your mental notes for the day you purchase a tractor. Buy a tractor with attachments.

So I made a deal with the seller and began to arrange going to get the tractor. I contacted a neighbor and asked if I could borrow his equipment trailer, that I’d found a tractor.  He knows us pretty well by now and knew that I’d be over my head pulling back a 24 foot equipment trailer. I did NOT know this; I had no concept of this. I don’t think I realized how stomping BIG such a trailer is. But, he did.  So, he offered to pull it home. Y’all, the tractor was more than an hour and a half away.

Then I rattled off all the attachments that came with it. “And it comes with a bush hog and it comes with a plow and it comes with a box blade and it comes with an aerator and it has a front loader and there’s a scrape blade….”

He said, “You realize that all that won’t fit on one trailer, don’t you?” No, no I didn’t! So. We contacted another friend, who had a buddy who would let us borrow a trailer that he could pull it with my pretty big ole truck.  These are the kinds of neighbors and friends we have here. Unbelievable. So we made plans to set out bright and early the next day to pick up the tractor.

Then that evening, the seller called to say that he couldn’t start it by jumping it off. It had been sitting out in the weather for a while and when he went to start it, it wouldn’t crank. What did I want to do? Since I had already lined up two trailers and two drivers and another truck to help me go get it, I wanted to go get it. He had already told me that the battery was dead and that the front two tires wouldn’t hold air. What was one more thing? That it wouldn’t start? We’d be fine.

When I told my friend who was going to help that the tractor wouldn’t start, he said, “Then how will we get it up on the trailer?” Hmmm. Good question. I hadn’t even considered that. So I called the seller and asked him. “We can pull it up there with my truck and a chain.” What about the attachments? How do we load them?  No problem, he said, I’ll call my neighbors to come and help.

Me, two trucks, two trailers, two good neighbors and friends, and one 9-year old boy who is worth his weight in gold. We headed off to get my tractor in a truck’n trailer caravan.

The story is too long, the details too many to describe what happened at the seller’s house. Just know that the tractor wouldn’t start and the truck that was to pull the tractor on the trailer wouldn’t start either. Things went downhill from there.

After about an hour of sweating and pulling and struggling, I turned to one of my friends and said, “Let’s go. This is ridiculous.” He said, “We are getting THAT tractor on THAT trailer!” He was committed.

(here’s where the tire fell off)

Then, after about another hour of more sweating, pulling, and struggling, I turned to my other friend and said, “Let’s bag it. Let’s give up. This is nuts.” And he said, “No, we are getting THAT tractor on THAT trailer!”

And Honeys, they sure did! It wouldn’t start, it wouldn’t move, it dropped a tire (!), but they finally got it up on the trailer. Team effort; commitment; good friends.

Because we didn’t have any equipment that would crank, we had to load all the attachments by hand; my friends, my good friends, loaded it by hand! A heavy bush hog. By hand. A pokey aerator. Box blade. By hand. Unbelievable. The sellers’ neighbors never showed. (He does not have neighbors like mine.)

I was so happy and thankful for neighbors and friends and community as we headed home. Two trailers, one 20’ and one 24’, hauling my new tractor and attachments. Rich, rich, rich. I’m rich in what counts. Neighbors and friends.

Closer to home, I drove a little. It was tough and nerve-racking, but I did it. Another neighbor captured it on camera. (Who is that Farmgirl in that pretty truck?)

One borrowed trailer, the one with all the attachments, came to my front pasture. The problem was that we couldn’t UNLOAD it. A neighbor across the street learned of our predicament and came over with his tractor. He used his front loader, and some friends, to unload each piece.

My new OLD tractor went straight to a tractor repairman, another neighbor. There, the issue of it NOT STARTING continued for about a month. This, that, the other. Battery, fuel injuector, starter, blah, blah, blah. (That’s what happens when you buy a tractor that won’t crank, by the way.)

But yesterday my tractor was ready to pick up. Hmmmm…how do I get it home? You guessed it. I called my neighbor and friend to see if I could borrow his equipment trailer. What did he do? He came right over and drove my tractor home. I was so proud to be driving behind that tractor on the road: THAT’s my tractor! And THAT’S a true friend driving it. I hummed the Green Acres tune all the way home.

Aren’t I lucky to live here? I wish everyone had neighbors and friends like the people in our community. The world would be a better place.

Oh, and my tractor? It is sitting in the driveway.

Next step: learn how to drive the thing! I know I’ll have lots of help for that too.

So far I haven’t found ways that I can help my neighbors the way they help me.  I’m completely indebted. I didn’t think life was like this any more. If there’s still a Mayberry in the world, I think I found it. I think I slipped off the face of the 2013 world full of violence and craziness and yuckiness and selfishness into a world of generous and kind neighbors. Suh-weeet!

A big thank you to the tractor committee: Aaron and Scooter and Grant and Joel and Len and  Ricky. And a big thank you to my Hubs. (who smiles, encourages, and endures me. and is a cutie to boot!)

Are you a GOOD neighbor? Do you have GOOD neighbors?

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl living large and laying low in the country, Rebekah

  1. Holly Holt says:

    This pretty much sums up country living and why a community is so necessary (actually anywhere you are). We are building ours now after buying an old farmhouse. I moved out of NY to the country and I have to say, community was equally important there, for different but similar reasons. Navigating the crazy world is a challenge and it is best when you have support and knowledge from those who have "been there" and "done that" to ease the pain.

  2. Nini Betters says:

    Rebekah – I always love your posts, but this one is my favorite! What a blessing to have found that amazing tractor and attachments, and what an even greater blessing to have mighty good neighbors – I believe they are a testament to the kind of neighbor YOU are, too! Congratulations! I’m sure you’ll be driving that big beautiful machine in no time! You GO girl! Hugs – Nini

  3. Denise S says:

    you are truly lucky to have neighbors and friends like that!!!

  4. Adrienne says:

    You are truly blessed to have neighbors who will drop everything to help you and are determined to complete the task. When you and your tractor are doing what a tractor is supposed to do, create a special dinner for your neighbors and invite them to enjoy your harvest. That’s what I’ve done and everyone is happy.

  5. Frannie Meshorer says:

    You are the darlingest of darlings! You attract your good neighbors because YOU are a good neighbor .. yessss .. they are indeed there anyway … but they are there for you because you are YOU!

    I adored your funny story .. what a great ‘memory’ for your ‘remembrance bank’! I’m sending your story to my ‘bestie friend’ Grace Parker and her honey-man Charles. They have a Christmas Tree farm in Creston, N.C. .. and are "the good neighbors’ you speak of! I do so hope that someday you will all ‘meet’. You would adore her and she would adore YOU! xoxo, frannie

  6. Joan says:

    Yepper that is the REAL COUNTRY way of living – so glad to hear that it still exists! Oh how people like to help those less knowing in the farming way – but you are for sure giving it one of the best tries I have heard of in a long time. No wonder your neighbors want to help you – they appreciate all you are doing for the ‘ole farm’, it is hard to see a neighborhood not be taken care of and you for sure are seeing to this one. What’s the tractors name? gotta have a name. My neighborhood is a newer suburb out on an old ranch, we are 11 miles from town but only 3 miles from the ‘hub’ grocery, eateries etc. so we as neighbors do help each other, just not quite to the extent y’all do. We had lots of helpers with the Black Forest fire here lately and still helpers everywhere and I’m not sure but I for one do not expect to be paid back but I will guess there will come a time that I too will receive more than I give and you too will some day know exactly how to repay. Thanks for sharing, always a joy to hear from you. God Bless

  7. Pamela deMarrais says:

    Rebekah, you are the little farmgirl that said, "I think I can, I think I can", and you did! Congrats on another great accomplishment towards having the farm that you always dreamed of! It’s so good to have folks nearby that want to help each other. You are blessed!

  8. Denise R says:

    Rebekah, what a wonderful post. So beautiful to hear neighbours being neighbourly. Helping one another out when needed is what being a neighbour is all about.
    I love that you’re continuing with your dream and all the lessons being learnt along the way. I’m certainly learning a lot from your experience. I’d love that kind of life one day.

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