Saturday, July 29, 2006

things change

I enjoy living in the country but as the years pass and I get older I find that I'm gradually becoming insulated from nature. Almost thirty years ago we lived in California and I commuted 85 miles to Los Angeles each day to work. The smog, traffic congestion, and the rush of life in southern California drove me to seek a quieter, more serene environment.

We were just kids when we bought the house where we now live. I was 33 and Dorothy was 29. We were after the true country experience. The old wood frame house on ten acres and a creek had no air conditioning and was heated with a wood burning stove. I fell into the country life with great enthusiasm. I bought a chain saw and cut wood to keep us warm during the winter. We did without air conditioning, using fans and the breeze coming through the open windows to cool us at night. We grew a garden and Dorothy canned the harvest. We had two horses, five cows, two goats, and two pigs.

Country living is not easy. Oh, I've seen people retire and move to the country with an income that allows them to enjoy living close to nature but have the work of cutting wood, hay, repairing fences, etc. done by other people. But I was still employed and all the chores necessary to survive had to be done after work. Over a period of time things began to change. We gave up the live stock because it was too much work. Isn't it nice to drive down the highway and see cows in the pasture? It's just like a painting. But those cows are rather high maintenance. They require shots and sometimes expensive medical care. Calving is not always free and natural. Some cows require the help of a veterinarian to give birth, and if you don't want the expense you can learn to reach in and pull the calf out yourself. If you're raising cattle to sell, it's necessary to castrate the young bulls. If the pasture doesn't produce enough hay to last the winter you must buy hay to feed the cows. I didn't know all this when I used to day dream about country living. Now I let neighbors pasture their cows and horses on our property and we can have the pleasure of looking at them without having to care for them.

Now the kids are grown and I'm retired. The house is equipped with central heat and air. I let my neighbor cut and sell the hay in exchange for maintaining the fences. I grow a garden and mow the lawn with a garden tractor, but since my gall bladder surgery I'm beginning to realize that I'm not going to be able to maintain the property as well as I had planned. For the first time I realize that I'm not going to live forever and even if I last thirty more years this body is not likely to cooperate for the entire journey. Dorothy and I are thinking about moving to town. That won't happen soon, but we're beginning to see the practicality of living close to hospitals and where going to Wal-mart does not involve a twenty mile drive. We'll just wait and see and be ready to make adjustments as things change.


Anonymous said...

Even though the kids would miss the creek and "the country life" we would sure love having you closer. Kelly

Dawn said...

I think retirement forces you to stop and say "hey, I'm not getting any younger" and makes you face what the years ahead may hold.