Not fair. I went up to the land in the late afternoon today to drop off a bucket of compost and take pictures. It was a lovely drive, the sun just starting to sink, giving tree trunks and empty tree branches a warm orange glow, though the day was cold. Anyway, I got there, and the rickety gate and its badly attached “No Trespassing” sign were all in place, but as I walked up the trail to the homestead, I noticed tyre tracks. We’ve had a lot of rain in the last week so the ground was very soft. It looked like someone had driven a truck all the way up my trail, and taken out a tree on the way. Closer to the homestead site, there were indications that perhaps the truck had got stuck in the mud, but whoever was driving it had thrown down sand, and there was also a bit of gravel in that general area, which hadn’t been there before.
This isn’t such a good photo of the truck damage, because it was getting dark when I decided to take it. But you should be able to see the reddish stuff filling the tracks – that’s the sand. Once I realized they had driven right up to the homestead site, I started to wonder if these were hunters coming back to put up a hunting ladder. There was no ladder, but they’d stolen one of the large tractor tyres that I’d been planning to use for raised beds. The really weird thing is that they lifted it, but managed to leave the precarious pile of firewood that was inside it apparently untouched.
All of this was unsettling, but the worst was yet to come… I had a bad feeling about it even as I rounded the corner of the tumble-down barn with my bucket of kitchen scraps. Yes. The compost bin was gone. And it looked suspiciously like they’d taken the compost as well. How else to explain the fact that the ground looked pretty level, although the bin had been probably close to a quarter full, mounded up in the middle?
Now there have been some quite wild storms in the last week (although these didn’t disturb that stick pile), so that might be why the landscaping fabric was all riled up on the new vegetable bed.
That was pretty easy to fix, and I weighted it down with some bits of breeze block as well. The other thing that needed mending – and this was if anything the most upsetting find – was the bird feeder. It was smashed up, basically. Now this might have happened if a truck had run over it by accident – the big hole in the side; half the perches sheared off – but the branch it had been hanging on was gone, and the intruders had hung it up again on a different sapling. (Which makes me wonder: Do you remember way back in the Spring when someone stole my spade and fork? Well whoever did that refilled the bird feeder. I’m pretty sure they did.) I didn’t have tape with me today, but I patched the hole with paper, and stuck twigs back in for perches before filling it up with seed. It won’t last, but the birds will have something for the next week or two.
At least the rain barrel is still there (completely full of water, which may have been a deterrent), and although the lid of the old barbeque had parted company from its base, that hadn’t been taken either. Perhaps it didn’t have the same potential for clean-up and packaging as a Christmas present. I hope whoever gets my compost bin enjoys it. It’s a useful item!
So, what do I do about all this? Only the compost bin had some value, and that wasn’t much. I could talk to the police, but that seems like overkill for this, especially since I don’t yet have a proper lockable gate or fenced entrance. That said, there is a gate of sorts, and the place is posted, so it should be obvious to anyone that they can’t just walk in. I’ll talk to the agent who sold me the land, and – through him, initially – the neighbours. I think he knows the family… See whether there’s a more widespread problem with petty theft.
These weren’t the pictures I was planning to take, but once I’d got over the shock and patched things up, I didn’t have the heart to trek off further into the forest. But I did take this lovely sunset behind the Old Lady, so can at least finish with something more peaceful and beautiful.