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Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to Live in the Country


How to Live in the Country 
Subtitle: Flashback... 8 long years ago.... Jack, honey, are you SURE about this? It seems awful far from civilization.  Ashland is such a cute little town...
A co-entry with my awesome husband Jack, also known as “Hot Roommate” 

Step 1: Establishing your boundaries.  Living in the country is like living 1860’s California.  Regardless of what papers you sign, what the county/township/whathaveyou is taxing you for, you will quite literally need to mark your turf.  This is not a joke.  After living in my home for just a few weeks a man pulled up in my driveway, my LONG LONG LONG driveway with a farmer’s gate across it, to inform me that I would be seeing his hunting dogs run through my property and not to bother them.  When I told him I preferred not to have hunting dogs run through my property, he told me that his granddaddy used to hunt this land and he did not care who thought they owned it now.  I am NOT making this up.  Not long after, Hot Roommate went and bought fence.  Lots of fence.  
Step 2: Learning about wildlife.  Now, I grew up in a rural area, but by rural I mean that when we walked to the country store to get ice cream, my neighbor owned it, not 711.   However, that did not prepare me for moving to the REAL country where I now live.  And did not prepare me for raccoons.  These are quite literally the smartest freakin creatures on God’s green earth.  They have thumbs, of which I was not aware, and can open things better than a five year old child.  They can open trashcan lids.  They can open the latch on your chicken coop (yes, I have chickens, don’t start with me).  They can open the door to your shed.  They can open so much it is honestly kinda scary and horror movie like.  Oh, and they have the rabies.  That’s scary too.  More on the rabies later.  To ward off raccoons you need to figure out what of your stuff they want to get into and then ask a friend who has an eight year old child how they keep them out of said things.  That should keep the buggers out.  
Step 3: Don’t forget the possums and coyotes.  Possums, or opossums for my non-southern readers, think that they are people.  They are not as smart as raccoons, however, they do have this attitude like they should be allowed to come live inside your house, or at the very least, on your porch.  When you try to run them off the porch, they will not run away, in fact they will look at you and hiss as if your wanting them away from your home is not only unexpected but insulting.  And they have the rabies too.  Plus, nearly the entire continent of North America is being overrun by coyotes, which will come into your yard, poop everywhere and rip your chickens apart.  If you are not familiar with real coyotes, they are not Wiley.  They do not hunt Road Runners with sticks of dynamite.  And they have the rabies. 
Step 4: Understanding snakes and other reptiles.  Snakes will pop up anywhere.  You can be walking from your house to your pasture, and bammo, snake.  You can pull back the tarp to get hay for the horses (yes, it’s a farm ok) and bammo snake. You can walk from the sheep pen to the goat pen and bammo snake.  You can be driving to your sister’s house next door on your four-wheeler and bammo snake and almost run into a tree (my sister did that, not me).  There are all of these cute rules about head shape to determine if they are poisonous or not, but really, do you want to bit by that thing anyway regardless of poison level? Just carry an ax. That will help. (And yes, you will have to use the axe to cut it up into little snake pieces)  Also, beware of snapping turtles if you live anywhere near water.  Those bad boys BITE and DON’T LET GO.  You can ID them by.... just ....oh never mind.  Try to avoid things with scales.  Good news though, they don’t have the rabies. 
Step 5: Dumped cats.  First, if you think this entire blog is going to be about critters, you’re wrong, but you need to understand that critters are a HUGE part of country living. (I almost wrote livin’ - see what living out here does to you!!!) People, and not just country people, seem to think that unwanted cats should just be released into the wild like your kid’s butterfly project. This is NOT cool, nor funny, but for soft-hearted people like me, you can create a cat colony that is quite useful.  I can’t get any of these darlings to move inside for the life of me and I am kinda glad since there are eight of them.  That would make me a crazy cat lady and I don’t plan on going that route till Hot Roommate dies. Yet, a cat colony such as this will keep pests like mice, moles, voles, crows and snakes at bay, although these lovely creatures might end up on your porch as a gift of love from your pride.  Don’t touch them without lots of paper towels because dead they can still have the rabies.  Oh, and so can your cats.  Make sure to get them shots to avoid this.  
Step 6: What is the rabies? The rabies is a crazy brain eating disease that animals carry and can give to people.  Remember that movie Cujo? Thems the rabies.  Here is an informational link from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabies , but be warned, if you will remember, drunk nerds like to edit Wikipedia, so if you read this and see something a little off, just ignore it and keep going.  We like to avoid the rabies because if you get the rabies, or might have gotten the rabies, you will have to get shots.  NINE shots.  In the STOMACH.  See why I call it THE rabies instead of just rabies.  Anything that nasty deserves a definite article. 
Step 7: Set rules for your kids. Much like your neighbors will think that it is mid nineteenth century America, your kids will think the same.  It is important to lay some ground rules lest you allow them to turn into animals.  Here are the top three that Jack and I have found are most important: 

Rule
Why this is important 
Don’t play in the woods with shorts on. 
Ticks.  You see, ticks in the woods nest. And a tick nest has quite literally MILLIONS of ticks.  Which will cover your child and the only way to rid them of the ticks is to cover them head to toe in Vaseline and let them walk around naked like this for hours, as you chase them to make sure they do not sit on the furniture.  
Please pee indoors
Now while it is cute to let you toddler son tag his territory like a puppy, what is not cute is to allow this behavior to continue as they get older. Because nothing says we have turned into a bunch of rednecks like your kid peeing on a tree at your Labor Day cookout.  
Shut the door
The further you live in the country, the more bugs, which will fly inside you house and take up residence and breed no matter how clean your house is.  Because remember those kitty gifts? Kitties also like hide these around your house. Which attract more bugs, who are waiting for their moment.  
Step 8: Fresh Food. Stop buying produce at the grocery store. One of the coolest things about the country is vegetable stands and they are everywhere.  In fact, where I live, no one even manages these stands, you pay on the honor system. I know right? That still exists. Kinda cool huh? Oh, but you will need cash, because you cannot use your credit card or smart phone to buy tomatoes at the stand with the Folger’s coffee can. 
Step 9: Make sure this is REALLY what you want. Case in point, my neighbors. There are many folks who come to the country and build these extravagant houses and spend thousands on perfect landscaping, park huge boats in their yard that will never see water and expect that the country works like a gated community.  I have neighbors like this who like to call and complain to the nearby farmers that they have let the hay get too high.  Or, when you run into them, like to complain about the deer eating their expensive shrubs.  This ain’t easy living.  There are animals, there are loud jacked-up trucks with noisy exhausts, there is farm equipment that will back up traffic for miles, there are farmers that still use manure for their fields and stick up a five mile radius,  there are bugs,  and in bad weather our roads are never treated. Accept this if you move out here. Popping up speed bumps and stupid signs on our private road because you don’t like to sweep dust off of your concrete driveway just makes you look like an asshat.  
Step 10: Find the local wine shop in town.  Just because you are living in the country doesn’t mean that you should go without Spanish wine.  Oh!! And get satellite TV!!! That way, you will never miss a single TV show or movie that Michael Shanks is in.  Because he is usually on cable. Which we don’t get in the sticks.  

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