Learning to Be a Country Girl
I married a “Good “Ol’ Country Boy”. He’s not a farmer or a rancher, but he certainly loves being outdoors working, fishing, hunting and just enjoying nature. He loves living in the country and would most certainly spend the majority of his time outdoors if he could. And that’s great.
But, there’s a problem. I came from a big city on the West Coast of the United States to the countryside outside a tiny little town in the South. (OK… to the folks here, it’s a city. But, the church I used to attend in the big city had a membership that was about 1/5th of the population of our entire county here. So yes, the city is tiny.) What a change!!
It took me years to actually like it. To me it was not convenient. It’s not near the kind of major shopping, hair salons, nail salons and other conveniences that I used to enjoy. (Yes, we have hair and nail salons and stores.) The closest health food store is about 50 minutes drive away. My favorite grocery store is about 45 minutes away. I ruin every pair of shoes I have on a gravel driveway. (Oh… for a house in the city like I used to own with a lovely driveway where I can drive right into the garage, close the garage door behind me, and walk into the house, shoes unassaulted by large and sharp pieces of gravel… a place that is minutes away from shopping, groceries, restaurants, and entertainment. Not that I ever spent a lot of money on entertainment, but it was nice to know that it was there if I wanted to see a play, a musical or a show) And, I hate bugs and snakes… both of which we have to watch here. (Can you say Copperhead and Water Moccasin?) The saving grace was that I commuted to work in the city. But, I’ve been pretty much in the country for the past 16 months now with very few trips to the city.
(This is why I wrote about being content. I have had to learn to be content with country living. Next step… learning to embrace it.)
Well, after all of these years I think I’ve now gotten to the place where I am part-way between being a city girl and being a country girl.
I love baking my own breads and have been learning to garden. (We’ve had a rather large garden for the past three years.) I started canning foods for the first time three years ago and have been learning how to make things like pickles, relish, jams and jellies, pepper vinegars, pepper jellies, pear sauce (like apple sauce), pear butter, etc. An error in making muscadine grape jelly let us enjoy muscadine syrup for our pancakes.
I’m expanding my “repertoire” this year and would like to take a trip to the mountains and get boxes and boxes of apples (for apple sauce, dried apples for snacking, chutney, and apple fillings for apple pie). Since we live in the South I also want to get boxes and boxes of peaches (one of my favorite fruits) and can them for winter as well as enjoying them fresh. I’d also like to make peach butter, peach jam and peach fillings for pies. There’s something really satisfying about going into my pantry and picking out a jar of pear butter to put on toast, going into the freezer and getting pear sauce, or opening one of the many jars of green beans, etc. Between my husband and me we grew, prepared and canned or froze many things. This year I will be using the dehydrator to make fruit snacks for the kids, jerky for my husband and much more. It’s a good feeling (and cuts down on our grocery bill.) Not bad for a city girl, eh?
Recently (in the last year) I started reading Mother Earth News. It’s about modern homesteading. OK… so the idea sounds romantic. I like the idea of having my own acreage and going off grid (producing our own electricity). I actually have gotten to the place where I asked my husband if we might be able to get chickens. But, on second thought… I have to weigh the benefits against the problems. Eggs that are fresher (and healthier since they’d be free-range) than any grocery store eggs could be vs. the risk of being pecked when I try to collect the eggs, the dreaded chicken poop, and the smell. (My nose is way to sensitive.) And then there’s the responsibility of taking care of animals and making sure they’re healthy. I’m leaning toward chickens… maybe my husband can take care of them????? (Sigh… I guess if I want the benefits I have to deal with the inconveniences.)
We have some acreage where we’re going to build a house. We’re clearing it by hand for now and it’s a huge amount of work. It’s beautiful (especially this time of year when everything is green), but full of trees at the moment. Once we cleared away enough trees, the proper officials came to approve placement of the septic tank and well. But, at this rate it will be a while before we actually build. I go over there and work as much and as hard as I can until I get a heat headache or until my back protests. But, my husband (bless his heart) has done most of the work. My sister-in-law has come and done a lot of work, too! When the house is built, the next project will be to put in the gardens and make it an oasis, a place of retreat.
I have already said that I want a cement driveway, a garage, and side walks going to the house. No more ruining shoes. No more getting muddy in the rain. If I can have that convenience, then living in the country won’t be so difficult for a city girl after all.
Hm. To a real country person, that might be kind of like saying that I want to go camping… but, only if I can do it in a motor home? OK… so my husband calls me a Princess. But, he loves me just the way I am, city-girl and all.