1. Country people instinctually follow the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
I used to wince when I saw homes that had a bunch of rusting cars, tractors, random pieces of rusting machinery and piles of 2X4’s strewn about in pristine pastures. Well, now I get it. I’ve scrounged around our property for 2X4’s to make roosts for my new chickens, I’ve repurposed some strange things in my short time here. You’ll need that crap someday, for some reason.
When you live hours away from Target and civilization in general, not only do you not buy useless crap, you don’t buy much period. You have to honestly factor in the gas it takes to go get that random throw pillow for your couch. And with gas prices even higher in rural areas, you bet your sweet bippy that throw pillow isn’t worth it.
Although, recycling is arguable…There is no recycling service around here. We do our part by using beer cans as shooting targets.
2. Yes, people do wear Wranglers, tucked-in plaid cowboy shirts, cowboy or ranch boots, big leather belts with even bigger belt buckles and cowboy hats. And it’s NOT a fashion statement. It’s what you wear when you are on your tractor or when loading cows onto a truck.
3. People stay out of your business, but they sure as hell are talking about you.
4. The best thing to do for an urbanite new-comer (like myself) is ask questions and listen. There is nothing more annoying than a person who thinks if they read the Encyclopedia of Country Living they know all there is to know about living in the country. My neighbors, whose family have been in this valley for over 3 generations, know more than any book I’ve read and I plan to listen to every word (until I’ve been here long enough to have my own opinions, understandings and ways to do things).
5. You are not in control. Mother Nature is. And she’ll remind you of that often. She’ll change shit up on you real quick, keep you on your toes. And yes, her winds will blow your small children away if you aren’t holding their hands.
6. Chickens do not follow you around because they love you and think the soft clucking noises you make to them are comforting. They follow you because you fill their feed container every morning and think you have more. Same goes for most other livestock, dogs, children and husbands as well.
7. Living on a ranch is WORK. Lot’s of work. And we don’t even have a working ranch. We’re just living “RanchLite”. You don’t have time to whittle on the front porch. You don’t have time to learn the fiddle. I’m busy taking care of 3 kids, running a household, working from home and ensuring my chickens aren’t going to freeze from a freak storm that blows in…on June 4th. My list of To Do’s around here has reached epic proportions.
8. It is slower here. I always felt like I was rushing EVERYWHERE in SoCal. I drove here, I drove there. I ran errands constantly. I was nervous, anxious. I had a tight feeling in my stomach all the time. I absorbed the anxiety that seems to permeate So Cal. I was smart enough to be wary of any romantic notion that I would have more time living up here. I don’t have more time. And I have more to do than I ever have. But time doesn’t race by. It just ticks by, at the pace it is meant to tick. I’ve lost that rushing feeling…It’s subtle, but it is slower here.
9. I have to drive 15 miles to get the kids to school. In that drive, I see MAYBE 2 cars. And a tractor. And everyone waves.
10. I’ve never seen so many old barns in my life. I’m talking barns built in the 1800’s and are still being used. And if they aren’t being actively used, they are left standing (see #1).
11. Country music is not all that bad.
12. It’s DIY or die. You don’t hire landscapers, for example. If something is busted, you fix it. Or you ask a friend or relative and pay them back with a 6 pack and a BBQ. Bartering works well too.
13. I had a tendency to fill in pauses of conversation with conversation. Around here you don’t babble on. You say what you mean and mean what you say. Of course, the women are chatty, but men (especially the older generations of ranchers) don’t talk just to talk.
14. If I said I have a blog, I think I’d be met with the reply of “What the hell is a blog?” or “Why the hell would you want to do that?” (and I honestly ask myself the same questions)
15. Every morning I wake up and despite the crabby kids, the fact I didn’t have time to shower because I was up all night with the baby and I still have chicken shit on jeans I haven’t washed in a while, despite the churning in my brain of all the things I need to accomplish that day, I look out any one of our windows and think “My God, I live here?!?!? What a gift.”