We knew what our neighbor and her child were doing in our garden, but we kept silent. But after one incident, I couldn’t stay silent any longer.

We’ve owned our dacha for quite some time. When my husband and I retired, we began actively caring for it. We remodeled and planted trees and flowers. My hubby produces wine. From April until October, it’s usually just the two of us here. We’ve never had a disagreement with our neighbors. If there were minor disagreements, we worked them out through conversations. We never erected fences, and the boundaries between plots were arbitrary.

We were relieved when the dacha to our left was purchased by a middle-aged woman rather than some boisterous teenagers. There were few parties and picnics, but it was otherwise quiet. The house next door had been vacant for a month. In July, a mother and her child came. Her spouse had most likely driven them. He left the following morning. We hadn’t seen them in a week and didn’t know who they were.

Her spouse then returned and decided to introduce himself. He stated that they had purchased the dacha and that his wife and child would be staying there until the end of the summer. He’d be coming and leaving because of work. We happily let him borrow some tools from us to work on their plot. He returned the tools in the evening before departing on Sunday. That’s when things began to shift. We spotted footprints from a child’s boots multiple times near our strawberry bed, but we didn’t say anything because we didn’t have any evidence.

Then my flowers were all taken out. We hadn’t been to the dacha in three days, and the strawberries had vanished. We didn’t do anything else at that point because it was late and we needed to sleep. Our neighbor and her child walked through our property again the next morning. We stepped outside and inquired as to what they were up to. She didn’t know what to say, so she pretended they were just going for a walk with the youngster.

The damaged flowers from my garden were in the child’s hands. She began crying when we asked her to pick them up properly. I remained calm and emphasized that plants should be treated with care, and I requested her to pick them up. That’s when the woman yelled at us, accusing us of harassing her child. Her husband stepped in and told them what they needed to hear: they had repeatedly trespassed on our property and done whatever they wished.

The mom took her child’s hand and led him back home. We hadn’t seen them in a week because they had kept inside. It wasn’t until the woman’s husband arrived at our dacha that he charged over to confront us. They said we had mistreated his poor wife by denying their child the opportunity to eat strawberries. We didn’t debate or try to justify ourselves. We didn’t need any complications. We decided to set up a barrier and avoid interacting with them. We want to live at the dacha in peace, not in conflict.

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