Simple Living Country Style

Simple living isn't for everyone. Writer Leanne Ely share her experience of living out in the country and trying to keep up with her "simple" life.
Leanne Ely

In search of the simple life
Long, long ago on a farm far, far away, lived a suburban family with a feed store bill that was able to bring tears to a grown man's eyes. With two cows, four goats, umpteen chickens, rabbits, dogs and cats, the feed store people squealed with delight when the mom pulled up in her station wagon and lifted up the back latch before even setting foot into the store.

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That mom was me. I was an urban drop-out, eagerly looking for the Simple Life. Tranquil, pastoral, uncomplicated.

What I got was endless chores, feed bills and the heartbreak of a backed up septic tank.

I'll never forget hatching of our first chickens and then watching the dogs eat them one by one. The joy of the first egg and then wondering what to do with 30 eggs a day. I still smile when I remember my daughter running down the hill with the goats leaping behind her, singing on the top of her lungs, "The hills are alive!"

And the garden! Honestly, mine looked like it belonged on the cover of Organic Gardening. I had everything growing and then some. I mulched, fertilized and composted my way to a mighty bounty. I was someone you avoided at church in case I had a squash hiding behind me for you to take home. You know the types -- they're the ones with zucchini on their desks at work the size of a small aircraft carrier.

And after the animals were tended, the garden weeded, watered and harvested, there was canning to do. Jams to make. Pickles to pack. Did I mention there was also no air conditioning?

Oh, the heat!
You haven't lived until you have heard me moan about the heat. I just don't do well in this Southern, humidifying oven of a climate in August. It is to me, unthinkable to even think about setting foot outside in such abominable conditions. Happiness to me is central air set on Polar. Forget being frugal.

This is one area where my very sanity is at stake. You and I both know the Duke Power people like to send those little flyers with your bill trying to make you feel guilty for being comfortable. Do they really think we're that stupid and will reset our thermostats to 85 because they spent money on a flyer?

Last summer, when my daughter sprained her ankle, I asked her if she could wait till fall to go to the ER. Did I mention that I just don't do well in the heat? My family was thinking they would pack me in dry ice on Memorial Day and let me out after Labor Day. That would be fine with me. I won't even tell you what I felt like after canning 24 quarts of pickles, 36 jars of jam and 21 jars of okra. Roadkill doesn't talk.

So did I learn any lessons? Not really. After a stint of big city livin', we're back in the country with more animals (added ducks this time), the same ol' station wagon with feed perpetually in the back, but this time we have central air. A big'un. Four tons of cold power, able to refrigerate the entire South. That, my dear friends, is living. I might even attempt to can

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