While I believe in sensationalism, Gentle Reader, this is not it.
Last May, my friends P and S moved to a farm, inviting me to join them in the wasteland called Buckley. I did so. Our friend, the Colonel, joined us; we clung to thoughts of spring, getting us through a long, difficult, winter. We have been sustained by thoughts of sustainability, fresh vegetables, some light hard work, and satisfaction in a more authentic, healthy, way of life. That dream may come to a close before it’s even born.
You see, we rent our farm, Teaberry Retreat. The landlord is renting use of the land to another farmer – another Tyler, actually*- who said he intends to use the back acres for hens, pigs, and cattle. He doesn’t live here, and never turns up without turmoil in his wake. I’ve seen him maybe six times since I moved here, in June.
Everyone who lives here suffers from some species of anxiety, I should note, as well as sundry other mental afflictions. This will be important later on.
Other Tyler – Tyler Smith, that is – never telephones before he turns up. Late last week, we got a call from the landlord, saying that Smith had signed up for a television program on NatGeo, and they intended to film here. The Landlord would be reviewing the idea, and might turn it down, depending on pending information. We were surprised, and not thrilled with the idea, but it was reasonable, and not a big deal.
As it turns out, that isn’t even slightly accurate. Other Tyler’s visit today was just dripping with further info: the film crew will be showing up next Tuesday; Landlord signed the contract a month and a half ago, and was supposed to have filled us in; there will be at least 14 armed strangers camping in our backyard for as little as three days; the show is “Doomsday Preppers,” and is all about the craziest survivalists that they can find to boost ratings; these nut-jobs are the ones who will be camped in our backyard.
No one asked us, or even consulted us: we were flat out told that this was going to happen, and our thoughts and feelings on the matter were utterly irrelevant. Tyler Smith, smug and condescending, flat-out informed us that he wouldn’t let us get in the way of his stardom.
I was trying to tease out more information, so that we’d know precisely what was going on, but circumstances intervened. The household is in uproar. My emotions, as ever, continue inappropriate – I know that I ought to be furious, and a quivering ball of anxiety, and, to a certain extent I am. Mostly I’m in a state of shock – I really don’t know what’s going to happen.
The Colonel is talking of calling in the sheriff. P and S are looking at alternative locations for this enterprise, our hobby farm, our home. I’m trying to drum up my anxiety, which, now that it’s actually an appropriate reaction, is nowhere to be found. The landlord’s supposed to show up today. I’ll update this post as I learn more.
*Tyler Smith, of the “Washington State Militia”. Evidently, he’s head of his cell. For more information, please visit http://washingtonstatemilitia.org/ (Later, he claims to be the founder of Spartan Survival, a group apparently in existence since 2005, even though its online footprint is hard to nail down.)
Update: 2:13 p.m.
Evidently the Landlord has sent a text, asking us to cooperate with Tyler Smith, and pushing back the time of his visit. I’m reasonably sure that he’ll just not show up today, because he’s done that before. Oh, and a lovely mixture of anxiety/depression has set in. Weather’s looking stormy, friends.
Update: 5:50 p.m.
Landlord finally showed up; we had a meeting. It didn’t go well. He steamrollered over our concerns, flat-out telling us that Tyler Smith’s projects and priorities are more important than ours. He told us that we had a choice to make, and that that choice would determine where we live.
Update: 12:12, March 3rd, 2013
If you see this addendum, thank you so much for your support, and for checking back for more information. According to the sheriff’s department, we essentially have no right to protest our treatment, under the law. Also, they are aware of the event, and informed us that there will be 24 people, and that they will begin arriving today. Bear in mind, originally people weren’t supposed to arrive until Thursday, according to our sources. So that’s a thing. We have drafted a notice, a list of rules, pertaining to the residents, our animals, and our personal possessions, and how we and ours are to be treated. Mostly it just denies access to electricity and water, and the bathroom. We’ll be watching like hawks for the least violation of anything, our trigger-fingers poised over the telephone to dial the last number to summon the police. There’s nothing else that we can do.
Update: 7:25 p.m., 3rd March, 2013
Evidently Mr. Smith – that is, other Tyler – has been made property manager. This changes his legal position and ours, granting us potential protection under the law. I still have my doubts that we’ll be able to effectively claim that protection, but it gives us a fighting chance.
Update: 11:51 a.m., 4th March, 2013
Let me see if I can keep this straight – things have rapidly been changing over the course of the morning. This update may not reflect the current state of affairs, because the situation may have changed by the time I’ve finished typing it. The landlord has changed our rental agreement approximately 5 times over the last three days. At this point, he has consented not to come into the house itself without a direct invitation, but refuses to give us the required 24-hour notice of his presence on the property. We received a very nice phone call from the production company, and it is very clear that they have been lied to: they were told by Mr. Smith that he and his group were frequently at the farm, where they would practice their MMA fighting, among other activities, and that the farm was commonly known to be a bug-out location. All of this is false. We informed the production company, and also told them that our issue wasn’t with the program or the filming so much as the invading army, so to speak.
The landlord is still coming out today, but it’s a civil matter, so the sheriff won’t come out, apparently. The filming is mostly going to be at another location, but we’ve acquiesced to one day’s worth of filming, with certain conditions in place, regarding firearms, and tents, and fires. The company assured us that if at any point we, the residents, were uncomfortable, they would leave. Further, if Mr. Smith and company attempt to camp here, they will refuse to film/air any footage.
This amounts to a Pyrrhic victory.
Update: 9 October, 2013
Right. So we were lied to, multiple times. There were 30-40 people, including a few campers – who were actually camped on the ridge above us on the neighbor’s property, where rifles were pointed at our windows – including my bedroom. Further, in our yard, not only were several live rounds fired, we were under siege for a few days, with loaded guns pointed at doors, windows , and livestock. We were laughed at and given a run-around when we called the production company. The invaders destroyed the small wetland on the property, and sent the Colonel into hysterics when they gave a demonstration of how to kick down locked doors and break and enter (he has PTSD), making their intentions very clear.
We spoke with a lawyer, who arranged things so that we had a month and a half to vacate. We did. We’re now living in Olalla, without the acreage to continue our planned projects.
The Tacoma News Tribune, our local paper, has released an article about these fine folks:
Update: January 15, 2014:
And then this happened, y’all – dude got himself arrested for firing guns on TV when he’s not allowed to own them. BAM.
UPDATE: January 29, 2014:
And apparently Tyler Smith of Doomsday Preppers is trying to deny that the footage, specifically filmed for that episode of their program last spring, which my roommates and I can definitely witness happened last spring, only took place in 2009, before his conviction. THAT’S RIGHT GENTLE READER: Tyler Smith is claiming that he did not fire that gun, or own those guns, because the footage that aired on the show was shot in 2009. What. Just… what. The link, of course.