Tag Archives: back to the land

Country Living Introduction

Escape the rat race. Leave the crowds, the crime, the problems behind. Move to the country and live the simple life.

This is like believing, if you’re poor, winning the lottery will solve all your problems. All it does is trade one set of problems for another. And the new set includes problems you are unprepared for.

I did leave the city behind many years ago and wouldn’t want to move back. Country living suits me but the learning curve has been steep and painful. I am still learning about the simple country life through reading and the school of hard knocks.

weather and country living

Weather is an important consideration. I don’t mind a little snow and cold but don’t need months of it. The Ozarks weather suits me most of the time.

Lesson 1

My way of country living is definitely not for everyone. That is true for all of those how-to books and articles.

This does not mean reading these books is a waste of time. It means you must adjust what you read to the conditions where you live or plan to live.

I live in the Ozarks. There is a winter here but nothing like northern areas where snow is measured in feet for months. I tried that. No, thank you.

Rich deep soil may exist here and there in the Ozarks, but not where I live. My garden soil is half gravel. It grows a lot of nice vegetables but not carrots or other deep taproot ones. It dries out quickly. Hot summer sun cooks the plants.

A lot of those gardening books and articles won’t apply to me. I do enjoy reading them as I find ideas now and then to improve my own garden. Other ideas may sound good but don’t work for me.

livestock and country living

Gardens and livestock tie you down. Livestock, especially, needs attention daily.

Lesson 2

Know what your goals are before you look for a place to move. Be sure those goals are realistic. Just as important is whether or not everyone in your family shares those goals.

Are you wanting more room between you and the neighbors? You don’t intend to do serious gardening or raise livestock? Then all you need is a house on an extra large lot.

Are you a serious gardener? You might keep a few chickens but raising livestock isn’t on your agenda. You will look for a place with good gardening potentials.

Are you planning on raising livestock? This takes room unless you dry lot and then you need a big hay barn. Cows like pasture. Goats like brushy hills. Horses murder pastures so they need extra space. All need water.

Is a nice house important?

If you will hold down a job, be careful your dreams stay small. Nothing burns you out faster than working all day, every day and still never getting things done.

Consider, too, you don’t need to achieve all your goals the first year. It takes years to build up a good garden spot, arrange it the way you want and find the crops that grow the best for you. If you’ve never had livestock before, get one kind so you have time to learn about them, make sure their housing is adequate and you are comfortable with them before the next kind comes home.

It is tempting to dream big. Having a big dream is fine. Start small and build up as you are ready. You can look for a place big enough and suitable for that big dream, if it ever comes true. Big dreams take more than one person working to achieve them. At the very least, they need everyone supporting them or everyone will end up unhappy.

wildlife and country living

Wildlife invades even the cities but country living is living in wildlife territory. That place you buy belonged to them first. And some of them will come in conflict with you.

Lesson 3

I grew up in the city. I was lucky because my parents kept chickens. For a time we had rabbits. We ate some of them.

The how-to books and articles explain how to raise and butcher your own meat animals. There are good reasons for raising your own meat. I prefer to.

What is missing from those directions and matters a lot to city people is what it is like to butcher an animal you have raised and cared for sometimes for over a year. This is not some neatly wrapped package in the market meat section. This is a living breathing animal that doesn’t want to be your dinner.

Or you find one of those cute raccoons in killing your chickens. Perhaps it is your dog doing the killing. Or a woodchuck is eating your garden and fruit.

Either you can look at the animal and pull the trigger, ending its life, or you can’t. If you can’t, move to the suburbs. You will be much happier.

Think It Over

Country living has lots of challenges. Every day can bring life and death decisions. Ordinary days mean hard work.

There are times I shudder thinking about the day’s agenda. There are times I would love to sit down and relax, not bundle up to milk in thirty degree weather. There are times I ache from head to toe.

This is part of country living. I might sometimes think I’m crazy to keep doing this. Then I drive to town and see the houses side by side and the people crowding the stores, hear the noise and smell the cars.

For me, living in the country far from neighbors, able to walk the hills, enjoy my garden and animals makes all the downsides worth enduring. If you agree or, at least, want to try country living, perhaps you can benefit from what I have learned over the years.

 

The first homesteading topic which is on water will be posted next week.

Leading a Simple Life

I tend to accumulate old books on rural living. Eventually I get them read. This time it was Sue Hubbell’s “A Country Year” which I looked forward to as I enjoyed her “On this Hilltop.”

The book is a collection of essays and one hit home. It was about those she called “Simple Lifers” who wanted to leave their complicated city lives behind, move to the country and lead simple lives. At one time it was called the Back to the Land movement by the hippies.

Why do people assume those living in the country have simple lives? Perhaps some of the credit goes to glossy magazines where vegetables are perfect and animals behave and things don’t go wrong. That is definitely not the case for me.

Nubian buck High Reaches Silk's Augustus

High Reaches Silk’s Augustus is totally girl crazy. At almost two years old he has gotten tall and now climbs up and over fences. I don’t want all my does bred now as I want milk over the winter. Bred does will dry off. He wants out with his adoring fans.

My buck Augustus escaped again. This time he went over one unreinforced fence into another section then through the fence into the pasture. Luckily he did not pass the fruit trees but might not have paid any attention as only girls are on his mind right now.

That fence is now reinforced.

City people have many job opportunities. Rural businesses are often family affairs. Jobs are hard to come by and usually don’t pay well.

That simple life can be mandated by economics. You can’t spend money you don’t have. Raising vegetables for the Farmer’s Market is an iffy affair. Weather, woodchucks, insects and disease all conspire to consume your crop. Country people don’t pay the fancy prices city people do but are just as picky.

woodchucks are a simple life headache

Cute and furry woodchucks are interesting to watch but disasters in the garden. Whole vegetable plots disappear in a single night as these voracious vegetarians burrow under, go through or climb over garden fences. Garden produce is so much better than normal food.

Livestock is not reliable for income. Animals are work. They get sick, hurt, lost or can hurt you. Markets go up and down.

Many country people do crafts. This is fine if you then take the time to go to craft fairs or have shops in big towns to sell your crafts. Very few of crafts will sell locally.

Heating with wood is assumed to be cheap. If you buy your wood, it isn’t. If you make your own wood, it is expensive in time, labor and equipment.

Some people want to move out of the city to escape city problems. Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple had it right. All the skulduggery found in the city is found in the country.

simple life gardening produces snow pea pods

Gardening is a good hobby in a simple life. It puts you out in nature, provides exercise and results in good food like these snow peas.

So, where is your simple life? It’s where you are. It depends on how many projects you stuff into your life. The fewer the projects, the simpler your life.

I sometimes wish for a simple life with leisure time. A week or two vacation would be nice. Then I will opt for my complicated country life.