Sunday, November 17, 2013

Our First Week Living Away From 'Civilization'

If you are like most, you’ve surely uttered the expression “I can’t wait to get back to civilization”, after spending time in the country, away from your IPhone and other gadgets.  You may have even found yourself starting to count down the days before your return to the “civilized” world you left behind.
Our family recently made a permanent move away from what most would consider 'civilization'.  There were many reasons for our wanting to do so, which I plan to get into in another post, but suffice it to say that a desire for a better quality of life was at the core of our decision.  Many of our friends likely consider us a bit odd, if not in-sane, for wanting and actually pursuing such a drastic change.  Maybe we are in-sane.  But what I can tell you with certainty is that we are already experiencing positive side-effects in our lives.
I want to share snippets of our journey in the hopes that it encourages you - not necessarily to do the same thing - but perhaps it will allow you to feel empowered and motivated to take steps towards pursuing your dream(s) and leaving your comfort zone. 

Now that we are mostly unpacked and somewhat settled in, I can take a few moments to share with you my observations and thoughts.  Here they are, in no particular order:
1.       We have discovered that in rural areas neighbors are neighborly.  They are not afraid to knock on your door and introduce themselves.  We lived in a relatively small city (over 10,000 residents) where our neighbor’s houses were less than 15 feet away, yet in 20 years I can count with one hand how many neighbors I got to know beyond the usual “good morning” pleasantries.  In fact,the day we left only TWO neighbors approached us as we were loading our truck and expressed that they were sad to see us go.   In sharp contrast, on our second day here, we came home to homemade jam left on our door step with a 'welcome to the community' handwritten note from neighbors, including their telephone number in case we should need anything. 
2.       Everyone is extremely helpful, with no ulterior motives.  Whether you are looking for the best mechanic or a reliable source for raw cheese, grass fed beef or pastured eggs, out here away from civilization, everyone is genuinely helpful and willing to share whatever contacts they have and what they know.   Although we lived in a fairly small town, we only experienced this type of community  with ONE family, before moving here.  There is an “abundance mentality” here that might take city dwellers some getting used to.  The idea here seems to be that if I help you, I help myself and by extension, I help my community.  For me and my family, that is quite refreshing and a beautiful thing to see in action.  Just as a small example:  my husband was asking our neighbor a few days ago where we might be able to rent a truck in order to be able to move my mom’s furniture into her new place which is about 20 minutes away from us.  We were looking for a U-Haul type facility but being out in the country we figured that U-Haul would be hard to find.  The neighbor mentioned how we would be better served using a trailer to haul my mom’s things instead of going through the trouble and expense of renting a truck.  We thought his suggestion was great, except we didn’t have a trailer or a registered truck to haul it with.  Being mentally exhausted from the move, we dismissed the conversation and figured we would just deal with it in the morning.  When we woke up the next day, we found a nice new Chevy truck and a huge trailer (with keys in the ignition) sitting in our driveway.  We both just looked at each other and smiled.  The trailer was big enough for my husband and I to load all of my mom’s things in one trip.  After a few hours, we returned the truck to our neighbor, clean with a full tank of gas and a thank you note.    

3.       You stop looking at your watch.  At least I have.  I haven’t worn a watch in years and even before moving away from civilization, I was always a slave to time.  Every task I undertook was dictated by the clock.  Now I find myself wondering about the time only long after it gets dark.  Now that I think about it, my husband purchased a watch several days ago and it is still sitting unopened.  Go figure!
4.       If you have a home-based business, consider Internet accessibility in the area you are looking to move to, BEFORE you commit to a location.  I am almost embarrassed to admit that this was honestly one of the last things on my mind when we picked this home.  Yet it has proven to be a challenge mostly because we have been cable free for the last 6+ years, for conscientious reasons.  Because our home sits in a valley, we could not get any Internet signal without either:  (1) cable or (2)  a 120 foot tower (which would have had to have been erected on our property).  The idea of having a tower on our property was not something I would even consider, for health reasons.  So we now have cable, BUT fortunately, we are able to block virtually every channel except for a few educational ones.  And so far so good.

5.       E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E will invite you to their church.  J

6.       Flies and lady bugs will invade your home!!!
I am not sure if it is a country thing or just specific to the are we’ve chosen, but I have never seen anything like it.  Flies gather (ok, correction..... they swarm like bees) by windows(indoors and out) and siding.  Previous to moving here my husband had an abnormal obsession with flies. He’s the type to stop anything he is doing – and I mean ANYTHING-  to kill that ONE fly in the room.  The only difference is that now in our new home he has to contend with hundreds at a time. J We have sprayed a lemongrass essential oil concoction all over the place and he has also caulked areas of the home I am certain were not meant to be caulked.  So we can say they are currently under control (i.e., not swarming like they were before).  The lady bugs are not as gross (or abundant) as the flies.  And to be completely honest, I can actually handle just about anything (even flies), as long as I don't see a cockroach.  Cockroaches are definitely a deal breaker for me... but I digress!   I have since found out that these (pic. to right below)  Osage oranges will deter insects (including spiders) so we have harvested plenty from our land and have strategically placed them on the outside and inside.  I am hoping they help.

 7.       Even if you are not a hunter, you will be forced to become aware of hunting season (and its intricacies) real fast.  I get up pretty early every day and since being here I have been waking at around 5:45 a.m. to take walks in the fields with my small terrier Roxie.  On one particular morning earlier this week I walked farther than usual and my thoughts were interrupted by sudden gun fire.  At first,  I instinctively ignored it since you hear shots go off often in the country even if it’s not hunting season.  But as I walked further, I caught sight of our neighbor and noticed that he was wearing his orange vest with rifle in hand  – even his hunt dog had an orange vest on! Yikes!!! That’s when it occurred to me that it was probably a real good idea for me to start heading back... pronto!  That was the last time I took my morning walk.  Hunting season here goes from the second week of November until November 24Th   .  Now, whenever we venture out beyond the 2 acre mark we make sure that we all have orange vests on and our children in particular are not allowed to roam our property without supervision.  Another funny incident occurred on our first night here.  A distant neighbor was traveling down our road and her car was struck by a huge buck.  It caused significant damage to the front hood of her car.  She saw the injured buck go back onto our property and after introducing herself along with her daughter, she begged my husband to allow her husband to come back first thing in the morning and look for it.  She offered us the meat in exchange for it's head.  Yep... that is all she wanted...its head as a trophy.  I was quite amused at how she was more concerned with locating the buck than with the serious damage it had caused to her car.  Oh, and her husband did come back around 7a.m. the next morning (with rifle in hand) to look for it.   

8.  You can actually see the stars at night!  I know this isn't a big deal to some, but to us it is HUGE!   On most nights, the sky has been crystal clear, allowing us to see every star cluster.  

9.    I have always longed to be in an environment where my children could explore and learn from nature's abundant gifts.  Everyone that knows us knows that we have a Dr. Doolittle in our household.  Seeing both of my children, but especially my daughter, develop her intuitive abilities in a natural setting is beyond rewarding.

There is more to come, as I plan to continue sharing our experiences - the good, the bad and the ugly- on our journey for a simpler and more balanced life-style.

I know what you are thinking... it is too early to tell; but so far, stepping away from 'civilization' has served our family well.

So what are you doing or what have you done to leave your comfort zone?  I would love to hear from you.