If you spend enough time out in the wilderness, you begin to think that perhaps rather than visiting maybe once or twice a week you should move out to it. Moving out to the country would afford you the ability to watch wildlife from your window, harvest your own eggs and walk your own land.
And, granted, this is the twenty-first century, unless you go completely off-grid country living should entail little more than a longer commute. However there are a few not so well known tips you should have before picking up stakes and moving to the back of beyond.
1. Don't piss off the guy with the tractor. One aspect of living in the country that is seldom appreciated is neighbors. These fellow country dwellers whether separated by acres or miles will be better known to you in weeks than your urban neighbors will be in months or ever. You will quickly find that you are not surrounded by like-minded hikers and nature lovers, but that many of your neighbors simply cannot cope with human interaction. The good news is that interaction is rare, the bad news is that it is sometimes necessary. Therefore it behooves you to get along with the local who owns the tractor. Tractors cost anywhere from $10,000 up, thats a big investment for an every now and then use; however, if you need to bury a cow, a boulder rolls into your driveway or your road washes out, you need one now, not in a few days. While you are befriending the guy who owns the tractor, also find out who can weld, who has some minor veterinary skills, and who has an 'in' with the well guy. These will all serve you well.
2. Electricity and water are luxuries. Yes you are on the grid, but you are probably at the end of it, and between you and the power station stand 10,000 trees waiting for the slightest provocation to leave you powerless. And yes, you may feel powerfully independent on your well, but when the power goes out, you will likely have no water either. Also, you will quickly become conversant in the myriad workings of pumps and pressure tanks and know just how expensive they are to fix or replace.
3. Every one has a gun. All of your neighbors from the tree hugger to the misanthrope are gun owners. Some only use theirs for snakes, others may feel they are protecting themselves from an upcoming UN incursion, and others may have an old shotgun in case the second neighbor needs to be held off until reinforcements arrive. Regardless, some of your neighbors may feel that it is perfectly appropriate to shoot their guns at random hours, either at varmints, targets or bottles. The first few times this occurs can be somewhat harrowing, but remember, the air is still out here and sound travels far. As long as you here no bullets zinging overhead there is no reason to retreat to your cellar (unless you are worried about the UN invasion as well).
4. Roosters do not stop crowing at day break. They stop crowing at nightfall. Likewise donkeys bray at the slightest provocation, dogs howl, yap, and bay, sometimes without cease, and peacocks make a sound not dissimilar to that made when a cat gets eaten by a fan belt. Country living is far quieter, however the silence makes every noise stand alone in all its majesty. Sounds carry far and wide, and on a still night a dog barking a mile off can sound like its on your porch.
5. Laws lose significance out in the middle of nowhere, and the first to go is any law concerning the containment of dogs. Dogs lounge unfettered on front porches, chase mice alone roadside ditches and travel about on canine excursions that they alone are privy to. The etiquette of canine behavior requires that dogs stay out of your yard, away from your own dogs and do not harass livestock. Otherwise dogs carry on secret lives of their own and become a part of the habitat.
6. You discover, to your horror, that the antlers of the deer you spent all last winter befriending now adorn your neighbor's fireplace. Rural people become very proprietary about their land, as well as cavalier about greater societal norms, therefore, your neighbor saw not a game animal protected by laws, but meat that has been allowed to fatten on his land. This is fine(ish) with deer, it becomes an issue with streams and livestock. Just because something strolls onto your land, or in the case of water, runs through it, does not entitle you to it. Eating the neighbor's goat may seem like fair compensation for the ruined rose garden, but may lead to unpleasantness down the road.
Living in the country can be very relaxing; however that relaxation comes at a cost. Skunks will spray your dogs, and the neighbor may not understand that his horse is not welcome in your front yard. If you can embrace the inconveniences, then country living is for you. Just remember, befriend the guy who owns the tractor.
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