Life in the Country


I have an idealistic, idyllic picture in my head of what “life in the country” should be. Could be. And periodically, I get adventurous.

In my idealistic country home, the scent of honeysuckle, magnolia, dogwood, and lilacs fill the air. This is a ludicrous idea in that I grew up, in Boston, where nothing grows before moving to the wilds of Virginia, where everything grows. I’m not sure there is enough Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra to compensate for the nightmare all the above blooms would cause to my immune system.

This country life has animals. Horses, goats, peacocks, guineas, chickens. And I have had all of them with varying degrees of success, failure, and even heartbreak. However, I think I can live forever without the 20-foot snake found in South Carolina. Chickens are some of the bravest, most ferocious animals I have ever encountered. I’m not sure how cowardliness came to be associated with them. I wonder if the snake would have frightened chickens—just pictures of it scared the hell out of me.

We currently don’t have any chickens. This is a situation that needs to be rectified soon. In my ideal country home there are no bugs; no tics or mosquitoes. But it’s only May, and I have pulled two tics off my ankles. Chickens eat bugs—they pay their way. I need some chickens. I would rather run from a beast I can see than be attacked by something I cannot until after the damage is done. This seems logical, Spock (or Data) would be proud of me.

I went to a local farm yesterday and looked at some chickens. Ian and Ryan were with me.

Really? Ian asked, Chickens?

We tramped around in the mud for a bit. Mud, or perhaps chicken shit, it was a farm, after all. We were outside the chicken coops. I made myself believe it was mud; it’s been raining for days, weeks, forever! So, it was mud.

Don’t you remember Quinn? Ryan added.

Quinn? What about the Killer Chickens? Ian protested, one could hear the capitalization in his tone. I won’t get in the car with chickens, that’s gross. Why do we need chickens?

So we don’t have tics. I replied. If chickens then no tics. Simple logic.

I’m not getting in the car with chickens. Ian said with complete conviction. I don’t know exactly what he would have done had I bought chickens, we were some ten miles from home. I couldn’t imagine him walking it in the rain. Why did we even come here?

For peppers. I replied. The farm’s proprietor had posted on Facebook (because that’s exactly where someone would go looking for farming information…really it is) that she had hot pepper plants. And I wanted some.

Because the idealistic-idyllic country home has a garden. Although, garden and idyllic seem to create an oxymoronic sort of sentence.

I’m not very good with plants. At one point in my life I was good with houseplants, but not anymore. I tend to forget that they cannot water themselves and they die. But peppers would have to be planted outside. And God/the Universe will take care of the watering right?

Ian was dubious. He arched an eyebrow and followed behind me, sulking as he went.

I bought peppers, and sweet potatoes, and cilantro, and, um, something else. And I have a friend with tomatoes and squash for me. I am going to plant them down where my horse, Saiga is buried. It’s fertile ground. Open sun.  That’s what plants need, right? Hopefully that’s right, like I said, I’m not very good with plants. But I’m going to try.  Gardening is adventurous for an urbanite. Less adventurous than chickens, I’ll concede that, but still a daring start for this urbanite-turned-idealistic-country-woman.

Ian and Ryan carried my plants back to the car for me, mumbling about being carnivores. I took this for what it was; they don’t want my adventure in gardening to become their adventure in weeding.

But my summer teaching schedule is lighter than it has been throughout the fall and then spring. I’ll have time. The idyllic country life is what I dreamed of as a little girl. You know that place with no tics, or chicken shit—or roosters attacking, or weeds.

It’ll be fine, right?

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7 thoughts on “Life in the Country

  1. Caitie & I put in a garden last weekend where the pool used to be. Since it now only came up to Brian’s hips, and had sprung a leak, it came down & I put in a firepit and a veggie garden in it’s place. It is surrounded by gravel & pavers, so I am hoping no weeds. Dennis built me an 8×8 box and filled it with loam & compost. I put up poultry fencing to keep my “wild” turkey flock (Gertrude lives here now, but is still technically wild, and the rest of them come & go) out of the veggies. We will have tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, zuchinni, cukes, parsley, mint, basil. We are not the country, but definitely way, way into the burbs. I’m hoping for a good crop, we’ll see. I’ve always loved a veggie garden, it was something I used to help my Grandfather with when I was young and awkward and had no friends. Playing in the dirt has always brought back memories of summer and warmth, and being accepted just the way I was. Caitie has been my partner in crime on this, but I suspect her interest in gardening is more theoretical than actual. We’ll see. Hope you enjoy yours, a little dirt time has to be good for us.

  2. Precisely why I left the country life–allergies, ticks, and chicken shit. Chickens can be some of the most loathsome animals around, and you’re right. They will attack anything–especially a particular little girl sent to collect eggs for her grandmother–and I, too, don’t understand how they’re associated with cowardice.

  3. intrepid souls keep chickens – my stepson does, and we live in a historically known neighborhood of big houses, and we live in small pool house behind said houses, but up the street live some chickens; i sense the swell of a fad! That said, how chickens are treated when mass produced is awful; Auswitz like; ugh

  4. I’m really sorry I looked at the photo of the snake considering I live in rattlesnake country. The peppers, sweet potatoes, and cilantro sound great though!!!

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