Monday, May 20, 2024
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The Benefits of Country Living

I wrote this piece in 2001 and in my opinion little has changed.

CalfWhen I got out of bed this morning it was pretty much as any other morning. After attending to all of the normal bathroom obligations, I put the coffee on and fed the cats and dogs. Then I walked to the mailbox and put something in it for the carrier and raised the flag, picked up the morning paper and walked back to the mailbox to see if I had put up the flag. After I got back to the house the bottles for the baby calves in the barn needed mixing, then the walk to the barn to feed the calves. The bull is fed, the dry cows turned to the grass and the cows with calves are moved to fresh grass. These chores or some version of them have been the preamble to the day as long as I can remember. The main enterprise of any particular time determines what these chores consists of and some of them are not necessary for our livelihood. But it is part of the whole that makes home what it is and makes up all of what we feel is important. There is a duty to care for our animals whether or not there is a monetary reward for this care. The dogs and cats are part of this place we call home and without them it would not be the same. If this would be an improvement is a matter of opinion. What is special about any of this? Really nothing special, just living life the way we want to live. Those of us who live in the country are different form our city cousins, if this were not so we would all either live in the country or the city. There are certain things that encompass life in the country and morning are the least of them.

I believe that one of the reasons that people are so screwed up today is that they have lost the feeling of belonging, the feeling of place or the feeling of home. All change is not for the better for what it is worth I think the price of change can be too high. This is not to say that change or progress in itself is bad, but I think sometimes we lose our base or foundation. In my case the neighborhoods of my childhood are no more, they have been replaced by interstate highway systems or torn down by Exxon to create a safety barrier between the refinery and the people. The giant super markets and fast food joints have robbed most places of their character. Most of our cities and towns are beginning to all look the same. The movements to make all of the little country towns centers of antique stores and homemade bread stores and craft shops are sad at best. They have no more to do with the real world than any of the other tourists traps that are springing up to satisfy the feeling of the lost past that is beginning to overcome people.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are things in the past that are best left there. I do not think many of us want to go back to drawing water from a well or making the trip to the outhouse on a cold morning. But on the other hand there are things about country living that are different from city living and this is as it should be. What happens to ruin it for everyone is the idea that the folks from town want to live in the country, but they want to bring town with them. There can never be any feeling of belonging to a place if you try to change what brought you there in the first place. Again I am not against improvements, but understand that when a little country lane is paved it is no longer a little country lane. For whatever the reason we all have become afraid to be different, all of the houses in a development look the same it is hard to tell one make of car from the other.

Country living is not about being like your neighbor, it is about living in harmony with your place. Country living is about teaching your kids that there are responsibilities that go with having a horse or dog. Country living is about learning that the chores come first, that there are things that must be done regardless of the weather or what is on the television. Country living is about learning to live in the real world and dealing with nature. Most people do not want to live in the country and this is good, but for those who want to make the move I have one thing to say to you. Leave town in town or you will miss most of the things that make country living special.


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Don Ashford
Don Ashford
My name is Don Ashford and my wife is Betty and we live in Ethel, LA. It would be impossible for me to write a bio about myself without including Betty in it. We have been together since high school. I was in the senior class of 1955 and she was in the class of 1957. Do the math. We have raised cattle since 1959 except for a little time that I spent with Uncle Sam. We have grazed stockers, owned several cow- calf herds and custom grazed cattle for other folks. I worked as a pipefitter for more than 25 years. Until we went into the dairy business in 1977 we were as most people down here part-timers or week-end ranchers. Later after we had learned enough about MIG to talk about it so that it would be understood by others we put together a pasture-walk group to introduce it to our friends and neighbors. We belong to more farm groups then we probably should but we get great joy working with other people. What makes us most proud are our son and daughter, our 5 grandkids and our 7 great-grand kids. It has been a hell of a trip so far, but we are not done yet.

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