|State forest around my homestead|
Living secluded in the forest was scary to me in the beginning when I first moved here in 1999. I didn’t know what to expect and had those visions of wild animals such as bear and mountain lions coming right up to my house. My mother-in-law didn’t help much when her first look at our new house was cautioning me about strangers attacking me when I would be home alone. At that time my husband worked a night shift job so the hours I was alone was at night. And let me tell you, night time out here is certainly dark! The forest came almost right up to the back of the house at that time. I won’t lie and say I was not scared. I was. Very much so. Back then there was very little traffic on the dirt road which was basically a path through the woods. So when a car came by during the night when I was alone I would be frightened for a bit. I do not know what I would have done if anyone had pulled into my driveway. Not having an outdoor light limits what you can see out there.
Now I was not totally alone. I had our dog, Nikita, and my two cats, Nutmeg and Cinders. Nikita was a good watchdog, but at that time she was still a puppy and not that sure of herself. She would go upstairs to her bed to go to sleep and I was afraid to sleep up there alone, so I slept on the couch. I would finally fall asleep and down she would come, with her gruff bark. Like she heard something outside. She was not a barker and only barked one low bark to let me know she was concerned. I would let her outside if she wanted to go out and check. I was afraid something would get her when she went out but most of the time she sat on the porch guarding the front door. If my husband was home, she would defer to him to protect us. Then she would not go out the door unless he went too. Over the years she became braver and did an excellent job at keeping us safe.
|Finger Lakes Trail|
Since my homestead is surrounded by state forest and other hunting camps, there is a lot of activity around here, especially during hunting season. There is a one lane bridge leading to our road and the Finger Lakes Trail is along the creek and crosses the bridge and alongside our property. So we also have hikers, horseback riders, snowmobilers (since both roads around us are designated snowmobile trails) and four wheelers. Technically the four wheelers and snowmobilers are not supposed to use the Finger Lakes Trail since they would cause damage to it. But out here? Who is to know? Most of them come out here at night anyway. No cops here.
|The Finger Lakes Trail lean-to|
The Finger Lakes Trail built a really nice little lean-to for their hikers to sit a bit or stay overnight in a beautiful spot along the trail. Over the years, that has become a secluded party spot for local kids. They used to driver their vehicles down to the lean-to and party all night with their radios blasting. I know they did a lot of damage and left a lot of garbage along the trail and at the lean-to. So the Finger Lakes Trail association put huge boulders along the road to block the trail so you can’t drive down to it. It has worked pretty good. They have tried to move those boulders several times, but had to give up. Once they even brought someone’s tractor down to do it but for some reason was not able to do it.
|Boulders blocking the trail|
Before they barricaded the trail from vehicles, one dark night, when my husband was home (thank goodness!) three young teenagers appeared at my door. Nikita stood between me and the door and would not let them enter. I called to my husband and he came to see what they wanted. They were stuck when trying to drive out of the trail and their cellphone was on the charger in the car. The funny thing was they had all their windows rolled up and the doors locked, driving out from the lean-to, so when they got stuck, they must have jumped out of the car and slammed the doors shut. The car was running, the doors were locked but they could not get back in. They didn’t know what to do. So my husband said he’d see what he could do, and as he walks out of the house, Nikita squeezes between him and the kids. One of the boys said, “You are not bringing that dog are you?” My husband said, “she goes where she wants.” He said the whole time the boys were very scared of her, and she was difficult to see being so black and big. Well they ended up spending the night there because the only way to get into the car was to break a window and they did not want to do that. I think the next morning, one of the parents came looking for them.
|Hobo on the very top of the barn!|
I don’t know if they were kids or adults, but there has been many times of them shooting off guns in the middle of their drunken parties. If you wake up at 2:00 AM to gunfire, it is a scary feeling! Especially out here in the dark secluded forest. One time they were closer, near the bridge instead of the lean-to. I worried about a bullet hitting one of our horses. Or us in the house. I felt like we were sitting ducks. So much gunfire, I thought I was in a war! I took my gun, a 22 and my husband his black powder pistol and we went outside. Our barn at that time was not finished but had the upstairs floor finished and the framework done. So Nikita and I went up there. My husband went scouting around. I can’t remember what finally happened that time. Maybe he fired off the pistol which was a lot louder than whatever guns they were shooting. At least I am still here to tell you about it, so nothing happened to us.
Everyone on my Facebook page always tells me to call the police. I learned after a number of times of calling them, they will not come here for a long time, if at all. Many times they never showed up. If they do, it is usually too late. One time a sheriff actually did come, but just drove around the roads and did not walk down to the lean-to where they were partying and shooting. Probably scared, so he left. No, out here you have to take care of yourself. Even though we are not that far from several towns, it is a dark state forest at night and assistance is not available. I am thankful to have survived and hopefully will keep doing so.
Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole