• Cheryl

Country Time Tuesday

New blog day added to the lineup! Wednesday is “Lump Day,” or my day to discuss breast cancer and life thereafter. Friday is “Happy Hour,” or my day to share my creative pursuits and what I accomplished during the week. And from now on, Tuesday will be “Country Time” - my day to talk about everyday life out in the country on the old family farm.

It’s Casey’s family farm, not mine, but we live in the 100-plus-year-old farmhouse, and the property still includes 120 acres. Casey’s dad remembers growing up here and helping his own dad with the crops and the animals. Much of it is wooded now, but a good many of the fields are still farmable and are leased out to a neighboring farmer - in the three-plus years since I moved out here, there have been corn and soybean crops. The animals are long gone, the barn since turned into storage for the auto body shop Casey and his dad have in the garage that’s been here for decades. Another barn was mostly destroyed in a fire quite some time ago, and what remained has become Casey’s paint booth for the shop.

Casey’s mom lives across the road, on an acre or so of the farm that was gifted to her and his dad when they first got married; the entire family built the house themselves - Casey remembers helping with that, too, when he was maybe three or four years old. Also across the road, on land that buts up against Casey’s mom’s, is a huge field overlooking the valley where his sister hopes to build a house of her own one day.

We have one neighboring farm we can see, with the small herd of cows who have the baby cows - the “dots” - I love to watch and report on; that farm is directly across the road from Casey’s mom. We have a next-door neighbor who lives *immediately* next door - just a house, no farm, not much acreage at all. And that’s the extent of our neighbors. It’s so quiet out here, so tranquil. Our road is a main connecting road from one part of town to another, so there’s a bit of traffic, but otherwise, the most activity we see is wildlife - plenty of deer, a number of groundhogs, raccoons, skunks, possums, and coyotes, which we’ve never actually seen but which we hear yipping down in the valley, and sometimes even closer. We occasionally take in a stray cat that’s been dumped out here - too many people just assume that farms are happy to have cats, and so they just bring pets they no longer want and leave them out here, which infuriates all of us. Casey’s dad especially has a soft spot for animals. Spike, our outdoor black cat - nicknamed “The King” - lives in the garage and does his best to chase away the strays, as the farm is HIS kingdom. But Casey’s dad tells him they have to get along. Spike grumbles.

I grew up in Johnstown, but our neighborhood, where my parents still live, is quiet and bordered by woods on one end, so I’ve always appreciated nature, and there’s plenty of it out here, which I love. But the isolation has its pros and cons: it’s been particularly nice during this pandemic, because we can be outside and go for walks and not really have to worry about running into anyone, yet generally speaking, it’s not always convenient to live a good 20 minutes from the nearest grocery store. And forget about shopping for fun - there’s nowhere to shop except for the general store-type place in town, which is itself several miles away.

Having grown up in a bona fide neighborhood, I do miss the things that come along with that - the sounds of lawn mowers and kids playing, trick-or-treaters at Halloween, the overall sense of being part of a community. I miss being close to civilization. I miss living in a modern home - we only just installed electrical outlets in the upstairs bedrooms a couple of years ago! So the last few years have been an adjustment for me, that’s for sure. But the pride that Casey and his family have in this place is touching, and I have to admit that it’s pretty cool to live in a place that has such deep family roots. I never get tired of the gorgeous rural scenery, and the peacefulness that comes with it. I love being able to see the Milky Way on clear nights. And the artist in me enjoys the challenge of making over the farmhouse and turning it into *our* home.

There is indeed a lot to be said for living in the country.