Friday, April 20, 2012

A Case for the Country

Over the past few years I've often found myself explaining - nay - justifying our decision to pack things up and move to the country.  People's eyes go all wide and dreamy, their shock and wonder take over as they ask, But why?  But how?  For what?  In the beginning, I had all sorts of fancy explanations up my sleeve, always ready with a less than genuine response.  I don't remember what I said but it was probably something about wanting space, a desire to homestead, the need for "peace and quiet" (Fellow country dwellers, let us all pause and laugh for a moment at the idea of peace and quiet).

In the early days we felt like pioneers on those drives from Austin to the land, the car loaded down with coolers and snacks, the dogs' slobbering faces hanging out of windows with the joy of knowing exactly where they were headed.  It was exotic and made me feel salt-of-the-earth-y.  Now I realize it's not exotic so much as basic.  It's the way people started out living.

So far, country living has been mostly about choices.  I chose to take on the task of bottle feeding baby goats before we fully moved out of one house or completed another.  I decided it was the best time to raise 24 baby chickens alongside my adult laying flock.  I decided this summer there would be tomatoes, and basil, and fruit despite the additional work that would inevitably require.  In the time since we've moved here, we've both lost weight, slept better, stopped watching television (we have none), talk longer, and work harder.  A farm is a living, breathing part of your life, if you choose it.  It needs food, water, health care, patience, and understanding.  In the quiet of the morning, there's a sense of this place as a being - it's not individual pieces of a property - it's a whole creature waking.

Now, when people ask Why? I don't feel the need to justify.  I just blink back at them and wonder Why are you in the city?  What is that life?  I don't have any fancy answers up my sleeve.  And it's impossible to articulate the life you have chosen.  What I know for sure is that, aside from the baby animals, there's nothing cute, quaint, or precious about this.  It's work so hard sometimes places inside of you want to curl into a ball and sleep for a day.  It's constant worry and doubt and concern.  But with all of this comes days so full and expanded that I wonder what there was before this, and I sure as hell would never go back.  I know this life isn't suited to everyone.  Country-living means care-taking and stewardship and the type of hand gripping, sweat-inducing, muscle-pulling manual labor that reminds you - bodies are machines meant to move.  Give me that pain and worry any day over a life indoors.  I'll choose it every time.


Kimberly said...

LOL,Oh, just wait! Your fun is just beginning! The looks, the stares, the slowing down of vehichles when they see a girl (fall over) working on the homestead, the deafening silence that follows on the phone line when they find out the noise in the back ground is milk hitting the bottom of the pail. The mouth hanging open when you start dinner at 4 because you have to grind the wheat for the tortillas. It's awesome! I love to watch other's shock.
Woo hoo! You're doing it!

Aunt Lisa said...

Has a Norman Rockwell-esque ring to it. Love it! (and the pics too :-)

Rodger Ciliberto said...

You’re right – ranch living isn’t fun and games because you have to work to meet your needs. If long hours of labor don’t suit you, then this kind of lifestyle may not work for you. That may be the case, but I think the rewards are much better. You have the opportunity to live near a breathtaking landscape and free from the perils of the city.