After having lived in the bonafide country for a whole five and a half weeks now I feel that I have acquired some useful tips that I can oh so generously pass on to any other suburban (or city, for that matter) gals who are country-bound! You can thank me later!
1. Expect snakes! Even if you have asked the neighbors if they see a lot of snakes and their response was “No,” expect them anyway! That way if you don’t have them you can be pleasantly surprised that you don’t, and if you do have them (especially if you have any sort of random gathering of rocks on your property) and say… see 3 on your first day and 9 in your first week… you won’t be plagued with nightmares and a fear of stepping out your front door.
Ok, you may still be plagued with such fears, but at least you’ll be forewarned!
2. If you don’t want to appear to be completely hickabilly, or if you even want to come across as being slightly civilized, make sure at ALL COSTS that you do NOT meet the neighbors with a large piece of food stuck in your front teeth! Not that I know anything about this or anything… Just sayin’!
3. Be aware of the fact that there are more bugs in the country… of ALL kinds… and they’re bigger… and yeah, there are just LOTS more bugs!
4. Have a first aid kit on hand and lots of bandaids with cartoons on them, because your children will now be country kids which means they will inevitably be sporting an increased number of bumps, bruises and scrapes! Once again, not that I know anything about this or that my two year old currently has a black eye, a large scrape down his cheek and bandaids on both hands… just thought you should know in case that happens to your kids.
5. Did I mention to expect snakes?
6. Baths are not optional but bathrooms apparently are! Let me explain- your children will essentially want to live outside (especially the really rough and tumble ones) and will daily be covered head to toe in dirt! Playing outside in the country will not leave them in the same state as playing outside in your old neighborhood! AND, if you have boys, expect to see their little boy buns exposed outside at random intervals during the day because apparently country life brings to the surface a deep down need in little (and perhaps even older) men to pee willy-nilly, with wild abandon wherever they please!
7. Although you may not have a body of water on your property it’s a good idea to take note if your neighbors do. Let me take this one step further and remind you that bodies of water, especially murky ponds, equal Mosquitos! Hence, come armed with citronella in bulk!
8. SNAKES!!! There are lots and LOTS of snakes!! And on warm days they like tall grass as much as those darned rocks!
So get a pig. They eat snakes.
Admittedly, I am having trouble convincing The Carpenter that I suddenly have a new-found love for swine and want a hog so badly I can taste it… oh wait, that sounds bad… and not that I wouldn’t consider raising pigs to butcher but the particular pig I am really longing for would purely be for snake-eradicating purposes… so I wouldn’t be tasting him or her…
Well, you get my drift- I want a property-patrolling pig!
9. Roosters don’t just ring out their synonymous cock-a-doodle-doo at day break- they do it all. day. long. BUT, if you are truly ready to embrace your new-found country diggs then you will accept their wailing as a charming part of and constant reminder that this is your new life… on a farm… in case you forgot.
10. Take extra-special care to not offend or otherwise cross 81 year old neighbors who have lived in a one-room converted milk shack with no indoor plumbing for the past 30 years. They hold grudges. And are not very well in touch with the way the world (and real estate transactions) actually work.
So, really, this one can actually be pretty impossible to accomplish, but it sure is a sad and surprising deal to find out that they hate you when you were just playing by the book. And it’s hard to explain to your kids when you can’t even really explain it to yourself. But I guess that’s life.
11. If you purchase a home that is over 100 years old you can expect to find some moonshine in the cellar. Take pictures ’cause it really is pretty funny!
12. If you should need to remove a large rock retaining wall off your property (especially if it lies only about 15 feet in front of your house) because it is infested with, oh, I dunno… say… SNAKES… I have been advised that the best plan is to actually douse it with gasoline and set it on fire first so as to minimize the overall horror and spreading of snakes all over your property that will ensue upon rock removal.
I should note that I am still working on convincing The Carpenter that this is the best plan since he seems to have it in his silly little head that the unknown number of snakes that reside in said wall (which I am convinced there are hundreds!) are controlling the mouse population. Ummm… let’s get some barn cats for goodness sake! KEEPING snakes is COMPLETE crazy talk!
13. If you move into a home of someone who has passed away and the family decided to have the celebration of life at the home, there is a very good chance that you will find a white, ashy substance spread in a certain area on the property. Try not to think about what it likely is.
14. If you decide to do a decent amount of renovations upon moving to your new home that should require you to live in a trailer of any sort for more than say, a few days, it’s a good idea to verify that the trailer has a working oven before setting up camp. You should also note that it will, indeed feel like you are camping and life on your new farm could feel a bit surreal. I expect this feeling should diminish once you actually move into the house and are able to establish some sense of new normal!
15. There is never a lack of things to do in the country and even walking to the mailbox qualifies as exercise!
16. There is more to discover and learn and take in for both yourself and your children than you ever thought possible! The joy you will see on their faces as they acclimate to their new life and absorb everything around them is priceless! Do your best to emulate even some of their wonder and joy as you make this new place, however foreign, your home!