In my post yesterday, I was venting about all of the negative things I’m learning about country life. There are quite a few positive things as well. Before I start on my list of positive things here’s another gratuitous shot of Rocky, our Great Pyrenees/Australian Shepherd mix. He is currently 8 weeks old. He weighs just 5.5lbs right now, but he is going to get big very quickly.
Now that I’ve got the puppy picture out of my system. Here are some of the things I love about living in the boonies:
1) Lack of traffic. It takes me less time to drive to the kids school now (8 miles away) than it did in suburbia (2.1 miles away). The small town that I live close to has a population of under 1500. There is one blinking yellow traffic light. On most mornings, I can drive for 15 minutes in any direction before I see more than 2-3 other cars. There is no wait to pick the kids up from school and there is no line to drop them off in the mornings.
2) Lack of Neighbors. I have more cattle in a 1 mile radius of my house than I do people. The few neighbors that I do have are wonderful. Even if we don’t always agree on things, I know that I could depend on any of them in a crunch. I also know that I don’t have to worry about some rogue kid blaring music out of his car stereo in the middle of the night.
3) No Telemarketers. Yea. That’s all I need to say about that.
4) No advertising. I don’t have to look at billboards or commercials or store fronts. Nothing is telling me that I need newer or bigger or better. Most people here are frugal by nature. One of the gentlemen that lives a few streets away lives in a beat up singlewide, drives a jalopy, wears tie-dye t-shirts that have been worn so thin you can see through them, and looks like he could be a pan handler. Yet, he has a few thousand acres of land and a few thousand cattle to go with it. His net worth is easily an 8 figure number, but he still gets up at dawn, works his land, eats beans and rice for dinner, and finds joy in his daily walk with his dog. He splurges by buying a cold beer at the gas station every Friday night. He is just one example. Money doesn’t mean the same thing here that it means in other places. Security and hard work are more important. It’s refreshing. We never tried to keep up with the Jones’, and we’ve always been pretty frugal, but it’s nice to not be inundated with people saying that we need to buy more. I wish more people were able to experience this.
5) The City Paper. I love our paper. It comes out once a week and I look forward to it each week. It includes a list of birthdays and anniversaries, a little local gossip, some things to do in the area for the week, a few recipes, notes from one person to another, and a small classified section. It’s fun to open it and see that the headline is – BETTY LOU TURNS 90! HER GRANSON, JOHNNY, CAME TO VISIT HER. How fantastic is that?
6) The views. Oh, the views. My 4 year old comes in my room every morning, opens my east facing bedroom blinds, crawls into bed with me and says, “Mommy, let’s watch the sunrise.” There are so many stars in the sky at night. I can teach my kids how to find the big and small dippers. I can also point out the Milky Way. I get to sit outside with a cup of hot tea and watch the sunset any night I want. I don’t have to worry about something blocking my views. Here is my view of the sunset.
7) Fresh Air and Hard Work. I know that hard work seems like a strange thing to put on the list of positive things about living in the country; but, it’s extremely satisfying to do work outside, with your own hands, in the sunshine and fresh air. No matter how tired and sore I get, when I look out at the work we’ve gotten done and when I see the changes that are happening here because of that work – I feel a deep sense of satisfaction that no 9-5 job in the world could duplicate. Here is a picture of the driveway, before it was a driveway. If you spent a week shoveling all of this raking it into your own driveway, wouldn’t you feel a sense of accomplishment when you finished?
8) Fishing whenever we want without having to get a fishing license. One of our three ponds is stacked with large mouth bass, bluegill, and some sort of strange hybrid. We call this pond ‘Lost Hook Pond.’ Here’s a picture of DH holding the strange large mouth bass/bluegill (pan fish) hybrid.
9) Simple Entertainment. We don’t have cable and our internet is crappy, so we improvise. We play all kinds of card games, we shoot arrows, we target practice with the BB gun, we fly kites, we play horseshoes, we read books, we have time to cultivate individual hobbies and interests. We take nature walks. We work hard, but we spend a lot of time playing too.
10) The people. Most everyone is friendly and polite. Cars will stop completely for pedestrians. I can go to the store and not feel like I’m wading through a crowd of zombies, since people will actually acknowledge our presence. Most of the people around here would rather barter for things or give things away than sell and buy things. We’ve had complete strangers stop to offer to help us do things. When we pass by other cars in this area, everyone waves and smiles. There is a pride that comes with knowing we are a part of this great community.
11) We can do whatever we want to this property. We could build a shopping mall or a trailer park or the town’s first jello wrestling arena for dogs. We could build a house out of glass marbles. We don’t need permits for anything. We don’t need permission for anything. We have all mineral rights and no one can be on this property unless we give them permission. Also, we are grandfathered into these rights, so no one will ever be able to tell us what we can and cannot do here. (Obviously – we have to pay appropriate taxes and obey state and county laws.)
12) Watching the kids thrive. They love this place as much as DH and I do. When they work beside us on farm projects, they are learning real life lessons that they could never learn at school. Here is an ‘in progress’ picture of the dog house they built out of pallets for Rocky. DH helped them a little, but they did most of the work on their own. (Rocky loves it. In the picture of him at the top of this post, he is hanging out inside of it.)
13) Security. This is the land of opportunity for us. If DH lost his job, we could fall back on full time farming. It would be hard, but we could do it. If we were ever hungry, we could go fishing in our own ponds and catch our own supper. We could harvest veggies from our garden and fruit from our orchard. We could even use our camping filter and make pond water safe for us to drink. We could chop down trees and build a temporary shelter. We could get enough firewood to get us through the cold parts of winter. This land takes care of us and in turn, I want to take good care of it.
So you see – there are plenty more good things than bad things about living in the country. I’m sure my perceptions about things will change as we become more familiar with the area and the people. It’s very different, but it’s a very good different (most of the time). Despite the hardships and frustrations – the benefits of living here far outweigh any negatives.