Advice Sought: New rural neighbor moving into a shared-land situation
Hello community, I’m asking advice on how to approach a land-sharing situation as a new rural neighbor. Sorry this is a little long, but the context will help, I hope.
I am pleased to report that I will soon close on a property in rural New York, over 40 acres and a small home. While I won’t be able to live there full-time right away, I am eager to invest in the home and land. The eventual goal is a mostly self-supported homestead.
The land has a large field, ~25 acres, and the prior owner (a mostly absentee owner) had a “handshake” agreement with the neighbor allowing use of the field. The neighbor hays about 15 acres (twice per year) and uses the other 10 to pasture his small herd (10-15 head). In return, the neighbor was to mow the owner’s ~1.5/2 acre lawn around the home (something the owner states the neighbor didn’t really do). This agreement has been in place for at least 6-8 years. The neighbor has erected an electric fence for the pasture and seems to have kept the pasture and field in good condition.
I would appreciate advice and thoughts from this wonderful community as to how you think I should proceed in this situation.
- I am aware that I’m the new person moving into an established situation, and it’s important not be a a jerk.
- However, this neighbor is essentially getting something for nothing (he has less than 10 acres and could not have such a large herd without use of this field), and I feel it’s important to create a new agreement that isn’t simply a give-away.
- I don’t mind him continuing to use the field, but would want an exchange or barter in a written agreement. I’m not interested in the lawn mowing, as I’ll be up every weekend to handle that. Farmer friends in the area have suggested he raise one beefer each year for me and I pay processing costs (they have similar agreements with other farmers).
- I eventually plan to use that field for farming and livestock of my own, but that is a few years away.
- I have met the neighbor in person to get his side of things and start building a relationship. He seems friendly and eager to continue the old agreement, and talked excitedly of all the livestock trading he’s been doing lately: “I want to watch my retirement grazing from the back of my deck!”
- For anyone who is on either side of a similar situation, I’d love to hear what did or did not feel good in this process in your experience.
At the end of the day, I know it’s better to have a buddy than an enemy as a neighbor, but I also feel that I need to reset the neighbor’s view of the situation without being a jerk, especially as someone who won’t be a full-time neighbor for a least a couple years.
Thanks for any thoughts you care to share, or any questions you think I should be asking. Always grateful for the shared expertise of this forum!