Sep 8, 2008

The not-so-simple country life

Ah, the move to the country, back to the land, to a simple life… send the kids for fresh eggs from the chickens every morning, raise tomatoes in the greenhouse, and pick guitar on the porch as the sun sets. What could be easier?

That was our dream vision until we walked the land that is soon to be ours (our responsibility, that is) with the people who have lived it for the past 30 years. It turns out that while we will do the work, many others will be the ones who try to live offa da fat of da land:

- raccoons eat chickens during the night, and ducks during the day

- voles eat much of the fruit. I don’t actually know what they are, but their cat catches one per day

- rats have pooped so much in the crawlspace that the fumes are noxious and borderline dangerous, so it needs to be cleaned and sealed with plastic

- bears stroll up that beloved creek to eat our beloved berries, and occasionally dip their snouts into the chicken feed, leaving long cylindrical lick-holes as far as their tongues can reach

- ravens and eagles just love to snack on chickens

- human neighbours don’t tend to steal anything, but will shoot any dog that goes near their sheep

- frost will sneak in early onto our property as the cold rolls down towards the river but gets stopped at our treeline, regularly killing their market flowers and our winter supply of vegetables

- hundreds of mould varieties will feast on our lovingly-prepared root cellar supply of veggies and fruits

- deer will of course be thankful for lettuce and pretty much anything in the garden

- those delicious, invasive blackberry bushes will soon take over the whole garden if we don’t regularly cut them down and burn their roots with a blow-torch

A huge huge learning curve, that’s what we’ve bought. Now when folks ask what we’re planning, we just shrug and say we’re planning to read a lot, try to learn the land through the winter, and start slowly. A tomato plant here, a rabbit hutch there, over the years it will add up to a productive piece of farm to sustain our family and community; but not in the first year. It’s very seldom that I’m intimidated, but a simple walk with people who Know this life drove home the point that it’s a lot of work to properly care for this land that has become our home, our responsibility. To properly nurture and honour it will be a hard, rewarding, and enriching way of life.

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