I woke this morning at 3 to the sound of rain. The covers were hot and sticky, so I just got dressed and found my way down the hall to a cup of tea to soothe my hacking cough. I’m supposed to haul the stallions out of here today. Rain is often bad news for Largo Canyon roads.
That hacking cough is something I picked up in Milan. A cold or perhaps the result of sweeping up heaps of mouse droppings. The reality is though: I feel lucky to have mouse feces to sweep.
That little road-bump John was not worried about in the last post, turned out to be a wall. John came back to Largo to send me to the Planning and Zoning special meeting after he learned that one of the commissioners was very concerned mustangs would bring communicable diseases to the community.
On the way, I had to stop by the bank to deposit the check from Placitas Wild for the first truck load of hay. The bank manager pulled me aside to discuss the paperwork I was supposed to send her. Cripes! I’ve sent that woman so much paperwork as PDFs that it would take a ream of paper to print it out. She claimed that there were still five documents she needs, but I remember sending them before I went to Florida. Luckily I was packed to move to Milan and I had my computer with me. I sat across the desk from her and re-sent the files. She watched me send them, but then when they didn’t arrive in her mailbox, she was puzzled. She called the bank IT department. They had all the files I had sent. The people at the bank are trained to be so polite that you never get bugged. I left smiling but now concerned that I might be late for the meeting. Then, with no prior history of trouble, the truck did nothing when I turned the key. Totally dead. The spring wind was howling so I am quite sure that no one in the village of Bloomfield heard me scream. “NO! THIS CAN’T HAPPEN!” But in fact, it could happen, so I got out and raised the hood. I wiggled the battery clamps and the wires going into the regulator. Luck was with me and it started. I couldn’t take a chance so I did not shut it off until I was parked in front of Village Hall in Milan.
Inside, the walls were graced with a giant photo of men loading carrots onto a vintage truck. Milan was once the carrot capital of the United States, shipping carrots by rail. The property we had leased was on carrot growing soil. It’s a pink colored dirt that fills the sky in the spring wind. As I was driving into town, I noted that the freeway functioned as a windbreak and our field was not airborne. That would have discouraged me.
I got to Village Hall at 2:50, expecting a meeting at 3. I sat in the lobby studying the carrot farmers until the armed code enforcement officer came out and said the meeting was at 3:30. I considered whether I had time for a bite of lunch, but the truck was dead again. I looked into the toolbox to assess my capabilities (limited), selected some pliers, then opened the hood. I was repairing a loose and dirty wire when the code enforcer came out to smoke a cigarette. I started talking to him while I tightened the bolts.
It turns out that he’s just moved to Milan from Houston. Because I follow the local news, I knew that he was in the news last week for towing inoperable cars from the residential streets. I asked him how that project was going, knowing full well the residents were a little pissy on social media. He was still smoking when I closed the hood and made sure it would start. An inoperable vehicle in front of his office was unthinkable.
The meeting convened with the 3 members of the P&Z board sitting on a dais behind a bench desk, over which a cloth with the Village Seal hung at an odd angle. The code enforcer and the real estate agent sat with me at a wooden table. The members were an older Hispanic woman, a young active looking woman, and a skinny cowboy with a face of gray stubble.
It turned out he was the voice against us. He said we’d be bringing in diseases. I said wild horses are rarely sick when they come straight off the range. It was horses at shows and racetracks that spread most diseases. He asked about hay and when I said I had a semi coming on Monday, he said that wouldn’t last very long and in just a few weeks the horses world be starving. He got pretty heated about how there were going to be lots of dead horses. I replied that it was impossible to say something had no chance of happening, but that our 10 years of history was the only evidence I had to say it was not likely. The real estate agent started talking about the property’s history as a livestock auction. I learned that the grizzled cowboy lived across the street from us. The place with the cows and horses and roping arena. The real estate guy and the cowboy are recreational ropers. People hauling horses around the country, stop and rest their horses at the cowboy’s place. His concern for contagious diseases suddenly struck me as weird.
The real estate agent revealed that he has another client that is considering buying the property as a horse hotel. Suddenly the cowboy and real estate agent were yelling at each other.
I interrupted them and offered a suggestion. We didnt need a permanent zone change. We would be happy with a temporary use permit. Try it, see how we operate.
We talked about veterinary inspection and vaccinations. The cowboy resolutely held to the vision of dead horses. The realtor asked if if the feed store had a permit for her poultry. Of course.
The young woman in the middle started talking about this was a great thing for the village. Like a kind of Wolf Park. I thanked her for comparing us to an impressive institution.
They sent the real estate agent and me out while they deliberated. We sat in the lobby and talked about carrot farming until they finally came and got us. They made a formal proposal to give me a 90 day permit and then they voted on it. The code enforcer stated I had to have the paperwork before I could bring any horses but the clerk would not be in until Monday. I said that was a problem because I was expecting a shipment of horses Saturday morning. The Wolf Park fan said she did see why we had to wait. I walked out of Village Hall happy to have sweeping mouse feces as my next job.