Monthly Archives: November 2020

Fall roundup

Picking the beans before the rain.

With the extra warm weather this fall – it was 80 degrees here two weeks ago – we have been enjoying our time outdoors.  But this is the time of year for fall cleanup.  Battening down the hatches, so to speak. The farmer who rents some of our fields picked the beans this week. Amazing how quickly they can move. Sometimes they’ve been out there until one or two in the morning but this time it was daylight.

The garden is ploughed. Just resting until spring.

The garden is plowed and ready for spring.  Although we don’t plow every year, often just tilling, this year we decided to do a deep plow.  The autumn leaves have been ground up to mulch.  Although I still enjoy the meditative quality of raking, I must admit that just grinding the leaves up with the mower is much the easier work. 

The big pots are emptied and tidied away. Will fill them with flowers next spring, six months away.

All the flowerpots are emptied and stowed away.  The greenhouse is cleaned, mostly.  I’m going to see if the lemon tree can make it through in there.  We no longer heat the greenhouse in the winter but on a sunny day, the temps can get to the 80s.  The lemon tree was started from seed and, to our surprise, it has thorns!  Getting too large and spikey to bring back into the house.

The poor lemon tree. With thorns. It will make or it won’t this winter. Will keep you updated.

I’ve deadheaded many of the perennials and saved the seeds to sprinkle around in spring.  I discovered a patch of beebalm that I’d tossed along the road several years ago.  The bees can always use more forage.  And I’ve already dug some perennials and replanted them.  More to go if I feel like it.

The flowerbeds could use a little more attention but when can’t they?  I’ll get to them.  Or not.  The shop needs cleaning and I never did finish the attic.  Oh, well.  There’s always something to do here on the old place. 

I finally installed the new printer that I purchased a couple of months ago.  I’ve been printing out some notecards on it and it does a fine job.  Put some of these on one of my Etsy shops and have them in a couple of local shops.  Doing some holiday paintings for the local shops, too.  But I’m really ready to get back to the bigger work.  I have a solo show coming up next spring and still need a few more paintings. 

And the holidays are coming up.  Well, as I said, it’s always something out here in the country.  Hope you’re all staying safe and well.  I always welcome your comments.

Living in the boonies: the downside

I have often posted my favorite things about living in a rural area.  Although I tend to focus on the positive, living in the country is not for everyone. 

A little background.  My husband and I were living in the northern climes where we were faced with nine months of winter and three months of mosquitoes.  Fighting three and a half million people to work every day.  And leaving for work in the dark and returning home in the dark.  So after many long discussions, we decided to pack it all in and move to southern Indiana.  A milder, four-season climate and definitely away from the rat race. 

This was not a sudden relocation but was accomplished with much planning and research.  Like driving up and down the Ohio River valley, checking out small towns here and there.  We finally settled on our area when we drove into town and realized that it looked prosperous, neat and clean, and there were no boarded up buildings on the main square.

But these are some of the things you need to keep in mind if you are considering moving to a rural area.  It isn’t perfect and there are challenges.

Utilities

I remember asking my grandmother one time what was the greatest modern convenience she had seen in her lifetime.  She didn’t hesitate at all but said, running water!  Carrying water up the hill for a large family was a never-ending task.  So one of the things you need to consider is what is the water source?

We were very fortunate that city water had just been installed along the road where we live about three months before we bought the place.  Will you have city water?  A well or cisterns?  Or will you have to haul water in a big tank on the back of your truck?  (You might get tired of that in a hurry.)

Also under utilities comes electricity.  We’re fortunate to have a rural electric co-op and they’re very diligent about getting out to fix downed powerlines, no matter the weather or time of day. 

Internet, telephone, TV.  No cable out this far but we do have satellite internet and TV.  Can’t really do streaming, though, so there are tradeoffs. 

How will you heat your home?  No natural gas lines out here.  We have propane for the furnace, water heater, and stove.  An alternate wood furnace, the beast in the basement, which provides toasty “free” heat.  Not counting all the labor that goes into it. 

Solar panels would work, too, but they’re probably not on our horizon.  And it’s not consistently windy enough for a wind generator. 

Schools

We didn’t have children at the time we moved but if you have kids, that would be a consideration.   How far to the schools?  Reputation, etc.  Fortunately the schools around here are pretty good but you’re probably not going to get that new class in Japanese that you might want for your kids. And sports are always big everywhere, it seems.

Isolation

Do you enjoy your own company or do you require a lot of contacts with your neighbors?  Frankly, I’m really happy that I can sit outside and not see another house.  But I know they’re there.  Neighbors pull together and you will generally get to know your neighbors for a wide radius. But they’re usually not in your business either.

Shopping

Well, it’s twenty-five miles to the nearest good grocery store, in a couple of directions.  On rural roads, that’s twenty-five miles in twenty-five minutes.  I remember living in the city when it used to take me twenty minutes to go two miles due to traffic.  Of course, there’s the local dollar store for bread, milk, eggs and other items that you may have run out of.  You learn to do better planning when you make the long trek.  And nearly everyone has a deep freezer, too.

Shopping for other items – clothes, household, garden stuff – ensures that you plan better and bundle several errands together.  For even bigger things – malls, department stores, book shops – we go to the city.  That’s about fifty miles in one direction and about seventy-five in another.  Again, you make a day of it.  And you don’t buy as much.

And, of course, you can buy nearly anything over the internet these days and it will be delivered right to your door.  Even an international airport is only about ninety minutes away.

Services

Most services are available out here that you would find in a more urban area and the suppliers are used to the further distances.  One of my particular favorites is the local and regional library system.  If they don’t have it, they’ll get it for you. 

Medical

This is very important to some people.  We are fortunate to have some great doctors and a hospital only a half hour away.  It should be noted, however, that emergency care may be more difficult.  Twice I’ve had to drive with my lights flashing to meet with an ambulance.  They could have found our place but we were just saving time by meeting them.  And there are always the bigger cities for more specialized care.

Security

Frankly, most rural people I know have some kind of personal protection, probably firearms. (It may take a long time for an official to show up if you call.)  This could be for racoons in the sweet corn, coyotes stalking the hens, or one time, a couple of feral hogs that were particularly unpleasant.  A story for another time.

Coyote with pear. Taken in back orchard in summer. About 40 feet from the house.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things.  But I’ve had a tendency to paint a rosy picture of living in the country and that may be a little overblown for some.  It suits me fine but this isn’t the life for everyone.  There’s a lot of work involved in keeping up the garden and property. On the other hand, we can do it at our own pace and inclination.  Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about living in a rural area and I’ll try to answer.