Country Living – Sometimes I think I was wrong

There are some (ok, many) things that I regret about living in suburbia. One of them is chickens. I can’t keep chickens and it is something I would love to try.

As I have mentioned many times on this blog, I grew up in farming country. 4-H, FFA, county fairs and combine traffic delays were a part of everyday life. As were intolerance, racism, ignorance and heavy drug and alcohol abuse*. When I was old enough, I packed up my stuff and was happy to watch the silos and cows fade into the distance behind me. I swore I would never go back except to fulfill my familial obligations (the parents have to see the grandkids sometimes).

I am kind of regretting that statement now. I live in the ‘burbs now, which is something I didn’t really want to do. I wanted to be a city girl. I wanted to be hip and cool. Then I had kids. The city does not really provide room for children to run around. They are a lot like Golden Retrievers. They need a yard to run around in. So we moved to the suburbs because it was not the country.

And you know what I found – intolerance, racism and ignorance. No drugs and alcohol abuse… well, there is but at least they keep it discreetly behind closed doors and only talk about it behind cupped hands.

This past summer, I started sending my sons to spend half the summer with my parents. There are memories I have that my children are lacking and only the country can give them. Memories like finding magical kingdoms in the woods, playing hide and seek in corn fields, bike rides that ranged for miles (with no adult supervision) and freedom. True youthful freedom.

Here in the suburbs, I get the long eye down the nose and an unspoken threat of a call to Children Services if I let them play in my own yard without standing over top of them. Heaven forbid that our children be off our apron strings for a minute, to develop things like courage, an adventurous sprit and common sense. (Gosh, you mean doing that really stupid thing on my bike ends up with me scratching the hell out of my knees?!?  I think I will remember that for next time.)

These days, I toy with the idea of moving back to the country, back to places where I can keep chickens and no one cares if my Christmas lights are up till June (mostly because they can’t see the house from the road) and nobody will say a damn thing if I plant a vegetable garden in the front yard. And, more importantly, I could keep chickens.

Maybe the whole farming community living thing is not that bad. Maybe no matter where you live, you will run into issues and problems. Maybe I just need to weigh the good with the bad and see where the balance weighs out.

*It is a little known fact that drug and alcohol issues are more prevalent in rural areas than in their nearby urban centers. For example, the second largest drug bust in Ohio when I was a kid happened in a little nearby town that had a population of about 200. Think about it, wide open spaces for growing (marijujana) and fertilizer availability (meth), make rural areas ideal for production. The fact that it takes you a freaking half hour to drive to ANYTHING, and so most teens and poor adults have nothing to do, makes it ideal for consumption as well.

22 thoughts on “Country Living – Sometimes I think I was wrong
  1. I grew up in a small town but I was lucky to have a grandmother who lived in the country – most of the time. (She moved a lot.)

    When I was younger I wanted to live in the city but when I started college that started to change. Now, I live in the country and the thought of living even in a suburb is not a pleasant one.

    We used to live in apartments with hundreds of people around us. Now, if I drive through town and a see a house for sale, I’ll tell my husband I couldn’t live there because the neighbors are too close – even if the house is half a block away. :)

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  2. I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland (Bedford) and we were able to go off for most of a day to the fields behind our school, complete with trees, creek and crayfish…great memories! But 25 years ago I took my young daughters there and later my aunt found out and was appalled…apparently that was where the drug deals were happening at the time.

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  3. I’ve lived in big cities for most of my life and always hated it. I’ve never been so happy as the times when I was able to live either in the country or in a very small town. But you’re right. There is no heaven on earth and specially when it comes to racism, intollerance and all the rest, it’s people not places that make the difference.

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  4. I just received my free issue to Backyard Poultry magazine. I’m pretty sure the long arm of the Cleveland Heights law would come down on me hard, but it is fun to dream about.

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  5. Hi, I live in a suburban area (in the UK) and I totally agree with you. I feel we have great street with a lovely field and a small woodland at one side and I encourage my kids to go over there and explore but other parents in the street are appalled at my lax parenting. What kind of mollycoddled muumys-boys kids will they be bringing up?

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  6. Michelle McCluggage on

    I grew up in Amish country. I loved it as kid. Ponies and goats and even chickens and bunnies. A huge woods, pond and creek with real snakes, even!

    Of course, I hated it as a teen….and decided to become a big city girl and moved to the glamorous metropolis of Akron, OH! Arg, here I am stuck, it seems.

    At least I still spend most of the summers with my kids visiting my family’s farm. (Sorry Hannah, they no longer have chickens….)

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  7. Melanie on

    What town did you grow up in? I grew up in Brimfield. Two seconds up the road was a big dairy farm, right next door to my grandparents. Building forts in the woods, falling into the creek, ice skating on our pond. Going horseback riding. Good memories. You’re so right about raising kids in the burbs. We always had what I called the “MOMMY NETWORK” They were always under the watchful eye of someones mom. My son was lucky enough to visit my sister on her 5 acre farm in Charlestown during the summer. My folks and grandparents always had big vegetable gardens. I took Horticulture at the JVS my last 2 years of high school. Past member of FFA. I too would love to have chickens. I’ve lived the past 25 years in Shaker Heights. I’ve had a vegetable garden every year. I tell everyone who’ll listen the benefits of composting.

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  8. gus on

    My grandparents owned a nonworking farm on a remote hill road. My Gram spent her summers there, with up to 6 grandkids at a time. We ran in the fields, picked wild strawberrys, and listened for non-exsistant wolves. My sister wants to have her ashes scattered there. Later in life, as I have mentioned, I lived on a working farm. We had chickens, pot belly pigs, and dairy goats. I also had a sheltie who got to stay there after I moved. I would love to cut wood for the stove, plant a real garden, and take the grandson out to feed the critters. As for the garden, I had strawberry beds, not wild, and a nice asparagus bed. There is nothing like fresh asparagus. Perhaps one day I will have this again.

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  9. Kristi Jalics on

    There are CSAs around here, and more beginning, I think. I belong to Crown Point which is in Bath and run by the Dominican sisters. The largest amount of the produce goes to the Akron Food Bank, but I think there are about 300 CSA members…And there are more and more farmer’s markets. If this has already been mentioned in this blog which I’ve just begun to read, I apologize for mentioning it again!

    I grew up in Fairview Park in the late 40s and early 50s when there was infinite undeveloped space and freedom for kids….I know the world is not wonderful now (wasn’t then either) but I think people are too afraid about letting kids have some freedom. I also had my grandfather’s brother’s farms in southern Michigan to visit and those are wonderful memories. I think things are going to get better. So many people are aware of environmental issues.

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  10. Hanna on

    Elaine – Get your own damn blog and stop pushing your agenda here.

    Everybody else – I am glad to see I am not alone in my regret of the leaving the country life. The world has changed too much.

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  11. I want a goat. I live in a small town now, and am anxious for the day we can move outside the city limits and have a goat or maybe a sheep and a couple of chickens.

    I grew up spending weekends at my grandparents’ farm in the country, and I loved it. I grew up in a larger town, and I’m really happy that I lived in both worlds.

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  12. Janet on

    I live in Olympia, the small capitol of Washington state. I haven’t checked but if we are anything like Seattle, the MUCH larger city than everyone else assumes is the capital, it is legal to have three chickens (all female/no crowing) per city lot. Seattle just passed an ordanance allowing one pigmy goat per large lot but they have to be neutered as pets, so no milking. I want enough land to support myself too, with an orchard, raised beds, egg chickens and milk goats, but I also want access to what cities offer – museums, concerts, colleges, libraries, different ethnic groups, different ethnic restaurants, different kinds of people period! The countryside may well feed my body but human culture feeds my mind. And with all due respect to all bloggers, just connecting online is not enough. :=)

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  13. I spent my whole life until 8 years ago living in the burbs in England and then moved to the US , the funny thing is my adjustment to life over here was easy because I realised what I had been missing for 40 years.

    We have a couple of acres ( unheard of in England ) unless your pretty well off where we keep our Goats, Horses and many cats and dogs and I could never go back to suburban life so if I did move back to UK it would need to be down in Cornwall or Wales . Just not sure how I would earn a living but WTF gardens, wildlife and our critters make me feel life is much more worth living

    steve

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  14. peggy on

    When my husband and I bought our home in S. Euclid, Cleveland OH, I thought I wanted a nice, postage stamp sized back yard–just enough to plant tomatoes and a few roses, but not big enough to suck up entire weekends on yard work.

    Now, our postage-stamp bach yard floods horribly, still takes up too much time, and I’d like to have chickens and a goat as well.

    Nothing’s ever perfect, I supposed, and what we want and need evolves. Although it would be cool to live in a progressive, egalitarian community of forward thinking gardeners so we could pool our resources and help each other out when we have bounties of organic eggs and tomatoes. As long as some one else mowed my lawn.

    I am quite sick of winter.

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  15. HHmmm I will vote for sick of Winter It is March 3rd and snowing outside, Plus to make things even worse the goats bless them have discovered a way to open the Gate , thought I had a plan and placed shovel wedged in front now they work on the Shovel First then work on the gate hinge next and lo and behold I look out to watch the birds and there are the goats milling around with one trying to get in to the feed and grain barn.

    steve

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  16. Renee on

    I guess we sort of live in the country just 1 acre. We don’t have room for chickens but we have a large garden, a long creek and room for our children to play. I am a country girl at heart and would never like to live with others right beside us.

    Blessings,

    Renee

    P.s. I bet your children will always remember spending their summers with grandpa and grandma:)

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  17. My husband and I decided to take the chicken plunge last May. We purchased three Rhode island Reds from Meyer Hatchery near Ashland, OH. I can honestly say, they have been a sheer delight to have. Not only are they providing daily eggs, but they also provide lots of entertainment. We use their droppings on the daylily garden. I recommend getting chickens if you can. You only need the pullets, not the roosters, so some of the suburbia folks may get away with it.

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  18. “Maybe no matter where you live, you will run into issues and problems.”

    Well, one advantage of living in the country is that there is enough space between you and your neighbours. So even if they are talking their heads off, you have a good chance of not noticing it.
    As to chickens: You haven’t had any trouble with the chicken flu, have you? In our village most chicken owners have got rid of their chickens because they had to keep them indoors most of the year so as to prevent them from being infected by migrant birds.

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  19. I grew up in rural Ohio and of course couldn’t wait to move to urban areas – one after another over the years.

    When we could retire we moved to small town Oklahoma and bought 2.5 acres outside the city limits. It’s not a farm sized piece of land but is enough so we don’t feel boxed in anymore.

    Now we are learning to grow veggies and flowers from seed, fight the neighborhood cats for ownership of the flower beds and aging gracefully in clean air.

    The politics of country people shock us sometimes but city people shocked us in different ways.

    Most important is the improvement of our health, happiness and optimism. No chickens though.

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  20. Valeria on

    I had a homesteading Grandmother whom I adored because it was nevber dull at her house … garden out front, chickens in the trees, family spread out in homes of thier own up & down the road: it was as close to heaven as I will ever get again on earth! She did continue use a tiny red handpump inside — even though the “boys” put a faucet in the sink — and the outhouse in back got plenty of action too even thoughthere was a functioning toilet inside. She cooked all the meals on her wood-burning stove. I fell in love with that way of living and now (((finally))) after 33 years of marriage to a farm boy who fled to live in the ‘burbs, we are moving back to the country where I can do a little homesteading of my own :-) — minus the outhouse though (hubby won’t give into that). I’m 51 this past December and can’t wait to start living!!!

    Valeria

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