What You Can Get Away with on a Farm or Ranch

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This column was originally published February 12, 2014

Farm and ranch residents may not have a grocery store or WalMart located only minutes away, but there are some advantages to living out of town including things you can only get away with in the country.

  • It’s universally acceptable in the country if a kid pees outside.
  • Dropping by unexpectedly on farm/ranch families is not received as an unpleasant surprise or annoyance. Country folks enjoy friends, acquaintances, or relatives stopping for a visit.
  • Nobody cares if there’s horse or cow poop in the driveway (unless someone trips or stubs a toe on a frozen cowpie, then there might be some griping).
  • Water from a country well is generally potable and doesn’t cost over $1 to drink 16 oz. of it.
  • In the summertime, the racket that country “neighbors” make is actually pleasant. Birds, crickets, frogs, and coyotes (and at our house, sometimes elk) are soothing to listen to.
  • You can have dogs, several if you want, and most stray cats are welcome, especially if they hunt varmints and vermin.
  • It’s perfectly legal and there’s no risk of getting fined for indecent exposure if he or she is too lazy to get dressed just to go run out to the vehicle for something or get clothes off the clothesline in one’s skivvies or sleepwear (we’re talking warm weather).
  • The company that stays all summer is always welcome back: bluebirds, robins, yellow finches, mud swallows, and blue jays, and all of their other relatives.
  • You  can have a clothesline because there are no ordinances against them on farms and ranches.
  • There are no Jones’ to keep up with.
  • On a farm or ranch, tots can stand on the pickup seat next to their parents to check cows.
  • The only complaints if your dog(s) bark at night will come from you/your spouse.
  • It’s acceptable to have and use the old outhouse in your back yard.
  • Country lawns don’t have to be constantly mowed in order to remain a required height.
  • You can hang the whole works on a clothesline: bras, underwear, pajamas…nobody cares.
  • Dogs don’t have to have a collar, dog tags, or be on a leash in order to run around in the country.
  • You can shoot a gun in your yard and neighbors won’t be alarmed. They may come over to watch you shoot though.
  • In the country there’s enough open space that you don’t have to pick up feces after your animal(s) defecate.
  • If you’re putzing along in the middle of a country road, drivers will not give you the stink eye (disdainful look), honk their horn, or raise their finger at you. Instead they’ll give you a wide berth, wave, smile and nod as they go by.

Country living has lots of advantages until farm and ranch residents get snowed in, experience a major power outage, or suddenly have no water. Getting power restored, well issues resolved, or plows out to the country roads can sometimes take a long time. That’s when country living becomes more of a disadvantage known as “pioneer living.”

© Amy Kirk 2014

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About ranchwifeslant

Amy writes a humor column based on rural living and ranch life from the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. She and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth generation cow/calf operation near Pringle; the Elk Capital of South Dakota.
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