One of our neighbors behind our house, had a bunch of people over today for their their youngest son’s birthday. The other day I saw the Dad setting up some straw bales in their front yard and thought nothing of it, but if I had known then what those straw bales were for, I would have spoken up.
For 2 hours today, about 10-15 boys were shooting very noisy guns, while the parents and grandparents and their friends watched and cheered them on. It didn’t really bother me and I just figured that the noise would be good desensitization for my horse. I knew they weren't shooting BBs or Airsoft ammo because the hay bales were facing one another and were less than 50 feet apart. I was thinking it must be some kind of laser guns they were shooting. It never occurred to me that those boys were shooting something that could physically hurt my horse and other animals!
So, when the party had quieted down, apparently so everyone could eat, I headed up to the barn to feed my animals. My daughter walked up with me and immediately brought to my attention many little brightly-colored balls covering the ground in Apache’s paddock. What the heck?!
Apache showed up around a tree and was noticeably upset, nervous and trembling. I was able to calm her down with carrots and petting as she walked beside me up to the barn. The entire way up I kept seeing those colorful balls scattered all across Apache’s paddock…I then realized that those boys had been shooting paint balls! And then I glanced over into the llama and goat paddock, which is closest to our neighbor’s front yard, and was shocked at the high numbers of paint balls covering the ground.
When I arrived up at the barn I realized I had left my llamas and goats locked up in their stall all day. I do that sometimes so they won't get in the way when I'm cleaning and refilling the water tanks, which is what I had done that morning. I can’t tell you how relieved I was at that moment for my lapse of memory, because if I hadn’t kept my llamas and goats in all day, they would have been blasted and pummeled by paint balls!
Photo below was taken from the second floor of the back of our house. Our neighbor’s house on the far right (notice one of the straw bales set up for the shooting gallery in his front yard). Our llama/goat paddock is in the middle, our barn is at the top of the hill, and Apache’s paddock is on the far left. Even the black water tank all the way at the bottom of our hill, beside our small gate, had paint balls inside of it!. We even found them on our trampoline and under the trees to the left of our stairs and basketball court!
I also felt terrible when I realized that poor Apache wasn’t so much traumatized by the noise as she had been by watching all those paint balls barreling over into her paddock, some exploding as they hit our trees, rocks and the ground. She had spent the entire afternoon cowering down at the far southwestern corner of her paddock, beside my neighbor friend Val’s horse barn. I should have went up there and spoke to our neighbors as soon as those boys started their paint ball battle.
But I didn’t. And I didn’t even speak up when I saw all those paint balls all over my property, because I was just too terribly upset, and I knew I wouldn’t even be able to speak calmly. And I really really dislike face-to-face confrontation. So, Jen and I spent close to an hour picking up the countless paint balls, getting our hands paint-covered and filthy. I couldn’t let Apache nor my goats and llamas out of the barn until it was all picked up because of the concern that the goats might try to eat the paintballs and the llamas and Apache might get the paint all over their feet as they walked around. The neighbors and all their guests sat in the backyard, which is right beside our animal paddocks and watched as Jen and I picked up their paint balls, but no one came over to offer to help or even to apologize. It wasn’t until Jen and I had filled our bucket almost 1/2 full before I considered walking over to my fence and speaking with my neighbors. It was perfect timing because he and several other men had come out to the front of the house and were practicing shooting the paint ball guns.
The bucket we were filling up with paint balls. Notice the golf balls, too. This same neighbor practices golf from his front yard and we are always finding his golf balls in our animal paddock and backyard, too.
I called my neighbor over to my fence and showed him my bucket of paint balls and told him what a thoughtless and careless thing he did by placing the paintball shooting gallery facing into my animal paddocks. I told him how angry I would have been if my horse, llamas or goats had been shot, and I told him that I even found paint balls in the animal’s water tanks, that I had just scrubbed and refilled that morning. I also told him that many of the paint balls traveled over a hundred feet across our property, and we even found them all the way down down the hill beside my house (which made me thankful that I had put our chickens back in their coop earlier in the day when it looked like we might get rain…we didn’t, but one of those paint balls could have seriously injured one of our chickens!). And I told him that he should have set up the paint ball shooting gallery in his own back yard or farther over on his own property at a different angle.
He did sheepishly apologize for his mistake, but then offered to have his sons come over to help us pick up the paint balls. I declined his offer because most of the paint balls had already been picked up, but even though I didn’t say anything at the time, I felt that the Dad should have offered to come over to clean up the paint balls on our property and not the boys, considering it was the Dad that set up the location of the shooting gallery.
But I made it clear that he had better make sure his sons didn’t shoot any more paint balls towards my animal paddocks, now that they owned their own personal paint ball guns.
What’s ironic about this entire encounter is that here I was worried about stupid people setting off fireworks in our neighborhood even though fireworks have been banned, because of the extreme fire danger. I didn’t realize I needed to be worried about my animals getting shot with paintballs by thoughtless neighbors.