My parents were just like me — “country from the heart,” but not quite as country as I thought country folks might be. For instance, just as the title states, “We just lived in the country … that’s all.”
During my early childhood years and until I was 18, we lived in rental houses. But, just because you rent a house on somebody else’s land doesn’t prevent you from using the owner’s land to farm, garden or keep livestock. Country people who own their land usually do some kind of farming or own and tend animals such as goats, horses, cows, and pigs.
A few landowners have exotic horses or bulls that seem to serve no other purpose than to keep the pastures clear of weeds, grass and brush. For those four-legged beasts, all you have to do is throw a little, ragged fence around an area and you will be good to go. It is just that simple; however, we never took advantage of that opportunity. And, in a way, I’m glad we didn’t.
We had enough to do. We picked cotton; harvested peas, cucumbers and peaches; gathered pecans; and helped neighbors with their crops. The latter we did only occasionally, but the others were real work on an ongoing basis. So, I can understand why we never worked the land that we lived on – we just didn’t have time … well, I’ll take that back. We did have time, but when we were home, we had other chores to do, and when those chores were finished, I guess my parent felt we need some rest and relaxation, which we certainly did.
On our property, we never had a vegetable garden or a flower garden, not even a flower bed. It certainly wasn’t because we were lazy, because we were always busy working on outside jobs. I think my Mom just didn’t want to invest any time in flowers and vegetables. For one thing, her mother gave us all our canned goods, so there was no need for her to waste her time with that. Now, about the flowers, I’ll take a wild guess and say that either she didn’t like ’em or she just didn’t want to invest any time in growing and tending them either. For whatever reason, we never had flowers to beautify our little rustic landscape.
My daddy wasn’t a farmer either, but I think though that at times, he thought he was. For one thing, he didn’t have any farming equipment. Without a mule and plow or a tractor, it’s difficult to do anything in an uncultivated field. I guess he figured it was more than enough to work on someone else’s land, so he simply didn’t fool with anything on his own. I’m glad he thought that way.
We didn’t have a milk cow nor any other farm animals. Animals are just like people … little people that is. They have to be sheltered (in a barn that has to be built and maintained). Livestock have to be fed, usually with hay that has to be planted, harvested and stored in the barn. They have to cared for and pampered just as we have to be bathed, medicated when sick and protected from winter’s cold and summer’s extreme heat. So, it goes without saying that even if we had had money to buy livestock, there is the other side of animal husbandry and homesteading. Glad my dad decided against those too. At one brief time, we did raise hogs. That didn’t last long, though, perhaps because my dad was busy on a “real” outside job. He just didn’t have time to romp around in a pigpen.
No doubt people have their reasons for living in the country. They may have inherited their land and decided to stay put. They may not like living in a town or city close to others. They may prefer the open space and fresh air, so to speak, but for whatever reason, each family decides how “country” they want to be. They can just live outside of town but not necessarily live like a typical country family. In some respects, we weren’t typical country folks, because we didn’t get too involved in country life and living … only to the extent that we really had to.