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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Living in New England: Good Neighbors

There are many aspects of life here that are so unique from other parts of the country, and I want to share those things with my family, and perhaps with you- if you have never been to New England.  I do a collection of posts called : "Living in New England" that highlight quintessential New England sights, events, situations, and experiences.
I know of many people who have lived here in New England their entire lives and perhaps don't realize that some of the events and sights that I will describe don't happen elsewhere in the country. Or, maybe you are originally from New England, but have moved away... I hope these posts will bring back some fond memories for you. 
In any event, I wish to share New England with you through the eyes of this Southerner!

(To read other "Living in New England" posts HERE. On the bottom of the page click on "older posts" to continue reading)

This post could also be named "Boys and their Toys," (insert eye-roll;) but I instead decided to include it in my Living in New England series since "good neighbors" really are the back bone of New England.  A good neighbor takes many forms here, not only can a good neighbor be the person who lives down the road or a mile away, but it is your community as a whole.  Neighbors helping neighbors is an unspoken credo in New England.  Volunteerism plays a major role, and "community" is a powerful element since small towns and villages can be spread out far and wide.  For example, since so many small towns and villages do not have the funds for their own fire departments, the building and equipment will be funded by the town but the firefighters and first responders will all be trained volunteers.   Need help raising a barn, plowing your driveway, getting your Christmas wreath down ;) or getting your tractor out of the mud?  When the word gets out someone (or many someones) will willingly offer to come help.  There is a kindness here that is undeniable.  Several Thanksgivings ago I noticed in the "free" section on Craigslist (fyi- our Craiglist covers the entire state of New Hampshire) that many people were giving away the makings for Thanksgiving dinner to people who were in need, other listings offered to pay for a Thanksgiving meal at a local restaurant, and even others were inviting those in need to join them for Thanksgiving in their own homes.  Thinking this might be a new trend I looked on different Craigslists from all over the country, and in no other place (I that looked) did I find these random acts of kindness being offered.  Being a good neighbor is a New England way of life.

Back to "good neighbors" and "boys and their toys"... this post is for all the husbands out there who, I've been told, read the blog sometimes with their wives.  Since Big Blue seems to be a favorite amongst the men readers I thought they might enjoy hearing a Big Blue story... 

We've had a very warm winter this year for New Hampshire, last heard it was at present the 5th warmest on record.  We've had snowed, then had a run of temperatures in the 50's, then the melting snow would refreeze at night and every surface would be covered in ice. Trying to walk down the driveway to get the mail has, at times, been dangerous and impossible.  I've gotten the car out to drive down the drive just to get the mail to avoid a fall.  We don't need any more trips to the emergency room this year ;)  During one of the high temp days of 56 degrees Dan decided to move some  dog poop   sugar-by-product  debris that had been "stored" behind a tree close to the front of the house since the ground was too icy to dispose it daily, as we usually do.  He was moving it using the scoop on Big Blue, the tractor, to the "compost area" that is located off of the "tractor path" which is located just below the "motor court" just off of the barn.  Got that?:)  Let's just say that three dogs create a lot of daily "debris";)   Now, if he had asked his wife (which of course, he didn't ) I would have told him that it was waaaaaay too snowy, muddy, slippery to go down the tractor path.  Since he didn't ask me he went down the path to dispose of the pile of "debris";) and got Big Blue stuck in the mud which had the consistency of quick sand.  
Dan chained up Big Blue and I tried to get the tractor out with our Yukon XL, to no avail, (we brought the Yukon with us from Texas and it is not a 4 x 4 much to the astonishment of every mechanic who works on it as they have never seen one that wasn't a 4 x 4 up here!) after that a neighbor came down with his 4 x 4 Jeep and that also was a bust.  The next day Dan left for a 4-day trip. During that time we got another round of 4" of snow.  The whole time Dan was gone he worried and fretted over Big Blue being left out in the snow.  It was as if he had left one of the puppy-girls out there all by herself.  Dan spoke with another neighbor, who owns a tractor, while away on his trip and the neighbor was very excited to help Dan get big blue out of the mud; even coming over to the house one dark pouring-rain night to check out the situation so he could devise an exit plan!  Hence the boys and their toys comment ;)  One fretting, one scheming and the whole time I'm thinking "if he had only talked to me..... :)

Poor, stuck Big Blue :(


Please note the decorative antlers in the back of the yellow spreader.  I even decorate our tractor.... kidding-  they are being stored there til I found a home for them inside:)

The cavalry arrived in the form of our neighbor Phil with his Kuboda tractor (which definitely needs a name don't you think?!  Big Orange?  Tiger? )   Phil had come up with an ingenious plan to extricate Big Blue using four tree posts and some ice melt.

The tracks to the left take you down the tractor path (the path is hidden from view from the house) where things like firewood on pallets, extra tractor blades, Big Blue's aerator,  granite stones and the compost pile can be found.

Phil turning down the tractor path.

 The discussion of the removal plan commences. 

The plan is further discussed at the incident site.

The tree logs are carried to the site...

and placed perpendicular to Big Blue's bucket.

Phil smartly had chains on his tractor as opposed to Dan someone else who shall remain nameless ;)

Phil's plan was to place the tree logs under Big Blue's bucket and use the logs as stability to push Big Blue back to the salted area where Dan could then get some traction.

Slowly and carefully...

the two worked together moving Big Blue backwards out of the mud and...

within just a few minutes Big Blue was freed!  Phil's plan worked so well he didn't even have to use his tractor to pull Big Blue out of the mud.
"Phil, you're the man!" was the phrase of the day!

After Big Blue's rescue the two men talked and debriefed the mission as "boys and their toys" are wont to do;) 
Thanks Phil, you saved the day!

Couldn't live here without Big Blue or "good neighbors!"

(To read other "Living in New England" posts HERE. On the bottom of the page click on "older posts" to continue reading)


  1. What an interesting story! I never thought of getting equipment stuck in snow even though I lived in Colorado one year. I have lived near Dallas most of my life.

  2. What a great story! Some things are universal. Boy and their toys are one of these things. How wonderful to have such caring and helpful neighbors. I so enjoyed hearing about life 'up north' - quite different than life in a suburb of Atlanta. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I was actually about to e-mail you tonight when I saw your post in my mailbox! Being in New Hampshire I was wondering if you were going out to cast your vote!? This current race is the craziest I think I have ever seen. I will be anxious to see the outcome tomorrow. Now, on to boys and thier toys. My Joe is in the midst of setting up his trains in our bonus room upstairs. I have been listening to hammering for 2 days now and he hasn't even started on the train board yet! It will be MONTHS til this is competed. But, it makes him happy. So glad you have such GOOD neighbors. We do too, and it is really a blessing. It is snowing here inj pa. right now, again. I am ready for Spring:)

  4. Poor Dan is having a rough winter! Good thing it's been mild so far. Glad he is healed enough to get big blue stuck though. I think your neighbors tractor should be named Tigger.

  5. Phil's tractor is kind of "Tennessee" could name it "Smokey" :)

  6. So glad that the neighbor came to the rescue so that Dan didn't have to fret any more about Big Blue! Leo borrowed a piece of equipment to dig a hole in the yard and he almost got it stuck due to the mud. We've had a lot of rain since September so I would love to trade some of that mud for your pretty snow!

  7. lol...I totally understand the "boys and their toys", my boy has Big John (John Deere) And mix snow into that relationship...anything is possible. Hope Dan is healed and back to himself!

  8. Hi! Love your girl's fabric collars? Did you make them? If so, how? Thank you. We are thankful for our neighbors in the Midwest too!

  9. Thank goodness Big Blue was rescued sooner than later! That was very smart of Phil! I had to have my Dan explain this better to me so I could fully grasp how the process worked. Being a farm boy he has a great understanding of these kinds of situations. Isn't it great to have neighbor's help! It's nice to read how happy you guys are out there. New Hampshire is on my checklist of states to visit!

  10. Hi Joan, Dan, and girls: Having lived most of my life in NH/MA, with job assignments in GA and MI in between, I will say that we may be harder to get close to, but when you make a friend, you have a friend for life. Great post! Cindy

  11. Love Love this, yeah for Big Blue, aww
    this is sooooo Awesome!!!
    The neighbors and kindness, is such
    Warm Fuzzy.
    Love Love the Pics
    Ohhhhh mannn and there "Toys"!!!
    Mercy Sakes
    Thank you for ya post (s), Love Love
    ya Blog.

  12. Oh I love this entry! Always fun to read and be a part of...great photo journaling! Living in NC with home (parents in NH), I always feel very at home here, and I LOVE your design sense. Yes, my parents' neighbors have pulled me out in a bad rental car with their tractor when visiting. Life is good.

  13. My hubby's New Holland is just about the same size, and his rule is- never drive it around in 4 wheel drive, because if you get stuck in 4W, you are good and well STUCK! Only use 4W to get out.
    My hubs used his tractor twice to pull out snow plows that got stuck on our street after the blizzard here in MD. They were small pickup truck snowplows, not the big ones. He cleared the neighbors driveways and ours, he spent a total of 10 hours on that tractor the day after the storm. He is definitely my rock star.
    He always says that after my engagement ring, that tractor was the best money he ever spent!! I absolutely agree with him!!

  14. Love it! Noticed that your roll bar has been removed just like ours.... I'm wondering when ours will get put back on lol. As for the Kubota since she is orange name her Hermes. lol That is what u named our Husqvarna ZTR mower. She's orange too! Love reading about the adventure!

  15. Always love your posts when they come, one of the first things I read in my mail box. Love the heart of this story, men being men and neighbors being neighbors. Makes for a good life.
    Blessings to you, Dan and girls today!

  16. Glad Big Blue was pulled to freedom. When reading about your dangerous trips to the mailbox I thought, you guys need Yaktrax! They are studded straps that fasten to the soles of your boots to give you extra traction on ice (think studded snow tires or tire chains!).

    As a native Connecticut girl, I give these inexpensive little miracle workers as gifts to newcomers to my town! At our house, we both have two pairs - one pair stays in the house for mailbox jaunts and the other pair lives in the car for emergency situations. Don't get me wrong, you'll still need to be careful on ice, but these help a lot!

  17. Joan,
    What a wonderful community to live in. I was struck by how little I know about living where it snows! I love Big Blue, nice that its been rescued. :-)

  18. Oh my gosh, does this story make me happy, Joan. As a transplant myself (eleven years on now), I came here and thought why in the world does anyone need their own tractor. Now I know. And we've had a few similar stories as yours, being both the rescuer and the rescuee! Our tractor is a Kubota, very much like Phil's, and I affectionately named it "Baby" because you would think it is his baby. When hurricane Irene came through several years back, it wiped out many roads in Vermont. One of my favorite the aftermath of the storm, one of the federal gov't agencies was here assessing, can't recall which one right now, and everyone was out moving debris from roads and creeks, with whatever "toy" they had to make the roads passable. The news report showed the agency telling people they can't move anything until they've assessed it, etc. Vermonters just looked at them like they had two heads and just kept moving stuff and clearing roads. It was neighbors helping neighbors, doing what they could. Doing what they've done for years on end. It was funny, but also impressive. Where I came from, that would never have happened. It was every man for himself attitude. Sorry for the long rant, but I just loved this story. And glad to see Dan is feeling better.


  19. Thank goodness for good neighbors!! Gad the story has a happy ending! :)

  20. much older sister susanFebruary 10, 2016 at 12:56 PM

    Oh brother. I bet your neighbors think 'those crazy Texans'. Thank you Phil! Doug would have loved to have been there in the middle of all that! Glad it all worked out okay.

  21. OH Joan Iove your stories. Now I have a funny one for you. Over the years I keep magazines worth keeping, because someday well I just might need to refer back. You just never know right! So the other day I open a copy of Renovation Style dated 2011 and I said to myself why did I keep this particular copy. Not knowing you back then I scanned the pages when I fell in love with this gorgeous kitchen. Whole home really. As I'm scanning I said I wonder if Joan ever saw this gorgeous home in this issue. I continue to read and see you and your hubby and dog and couldn't believe it! Wow what a spread they gave you. I read it again and enjoyed it even more!! Just love your home and your stories... Maggie

  22. sounds like a very nice place to live and also so beautiful. I tried your soup recipe from the last post and I really enjoyed it. thank you for sharing. best regards, Wenda

  23. Hello Joan, Good Samaritanship does seem to be an ingrained New England trait. So many writers from there have told their own such stories, although often smothered in New England stereotype. At least you didn't have Phil saying "a-yup" as he assessed the situation!

  24. I love this story. You have Big Blue and we have Kubie! Markus has the smaller version of Phil's, as our property is so STEEP, and narrow roads, so cannot handle bigger. Funny enough, 5 years ago we had heavy snow (3 foot), here in Umbria. Markus got the tractor stuck, I pulled him out with our former X3, then he got the X3 stuck and I pulled him out with Kubie. After being snowbound for days, he ordered chains for Kubie. They arrived 3 weeks later- they were sent from Bologna, 2 hr drive from Umbria. By then the snow had melted, and the chains have NEVER been mounted.
    I hope you tell Dan and Phil about our dear sweet Kubie. She is our little work horse and we could not live here without her. And guess what, she was built in America, just like me!
    Great story, and so funny! Hello to Dan, Ella, Louise, and Magnolia, and thank you for the great story- Markus was also amused. Best to you, Joan, Robin in Umbria

  25. I could have written this post myself (except it's usually me who gets the tractor stuck, not my husband.) I went dangerously too close to a creek when field mowing and got the tires sunk in mud, tried to 'roll the bucket' and get myself out -- only to get more stuck. Luckily our neighbor has an EVEN LARGER Kuboda to come to our rescue. You're right-- good neighbors are truly worth their weight in gold!

  26. I love this post-reminds me of where I lived growing up, on a little street in the middle of the woods in the snow belt suburb of Cleveland. I remember long winters with snow piles way over my head. My Dad was always the one plowing everyone out and still does at almost 78! I swear he gets excited when it snows and would fret just the same if his tractor was ever stuck! Love your New England posts-truly beautiful part of the country in so many ways.

  27. Sweet story! Thank you to the plug about volunteer fire departments! I'm a volunteer EMT in CT! If your town is volunteer Fire/EMS, consider joining them. They need you!

  28. I too love your New England stories. I now live in Alabama and have for 38 yrs. However, as a native West Virginian, I have lots of snow memories and neighbors willing to help one another dig out. The tractor story interested my husband because he not only loves tractors....he restores old tractors. Men do love to plan, plan some more, and then debrief the merits or demerits of the planning. Have you ever noticed a road crew? There will be 1-2 men working with a large group of AS many as 10 men standing around watching the other two working !!! Men and their toys!!

    1. Ahhh, 'boys and their toys'; I can relate! Will definitely show this post to my better half who is the guy in our last home removed the back of a humongous hobby garage, put it up on rollers and then jacked it up to enable an in-ground swimming pool to be built. That said; good things Dan and (my) Dave aren't neighbours as heaven only knows what adventures they would be up to .... ☺. So glad that 'big blue' sustained no injury. -Brenda-

  29. Thank you so much for your post.I know of many people who have lived here in New England their entire lives and perhaps don't realize that some of the events.


Welcome! Thank you for leaving a comment; you have no idea how much your comments inspire me to keep writing- I appreciate each and every one. Comments are moderated by me prior to publishing on the blog, so if you don't see your comment post immediately it will be posted as soon as I receive and read it. joan