Country: What we’ve come to love

I suppose I should clarify our definition of country. We live on 3.5 acres, on land that used to be fully surrounded by the open country with 3 or 4 homes around. Now, they are developing quite a bit of this land, so we actually have quite a few neighbors (which I admit…I am happy about). Some of our neighbors are coyotes and raccoons, though, so there is still clearly land enough for these wild animals to roam.

As mentioned on the home page, we were nicknamed “Martini-Farmers.” Not because we farm martinis—as fantastic as that sounds—but because we are people who still love the city, yet wanted a taste of living on land and working with our hands.

It turns out, this whole owning land thing is a lot of work. Almost every one of our weekends (if not our days) is full of mowing, watering, cleaning chicken coops, pulling up dead plants, planting new plants, weeding and pruning the garden, blowing leaves, laying bark chips, and chasing our dog down the street. That’s just the outdoors—that doesn’t even count our indoor maintenance and projects!

But in return, our weekends are also full of picking strawberries and tomatoes or pulling up carrots, poaching fresh eggs, delivering our herbal overflow to neighbors, and enjoying a chilled glass of rosé in the garden after a day’s work. Working with our hands and enjoying the literal fruit of our labor—there is nothing quite like it, and it’s also a lifestyle that I never thought I’d enjoy this much.

There have been a few surprises, both good and bad, that any country rookie might want to know about. Here are a few of them:

  1. Dead Animals Appear Everywhere:

    I wish I was kidding. But the number of half-rabbits I’ve found laying around our property has been a harsh wake up call. Whenever I see our goldendoodle, Tucker, sniffing around somewhere, I almost always know that he has found a bunny leg.

  2. Lots of Land = Lots of Work:

    Obviously, right? It seems the lustre and the dreaminess of living in a field becomes a little more gritty when it is your responsibility to maintain. I should hand over this line item to my husband, Josh, since he mostly maintains the land. But we both have a heart investment into this place. While he mows the field and sprays the barn and takes care of the moss everywhere, I water and care for the garden with Oliver’s help, teaching him what it means to work with our hands.

  3. Working With Our Hands Means So Much More:

    There is a culturally-transcending value of working with and benefiting from the land. Now, please understand, we are not anywhere close to fully supporting ourselves through our little homestead. I don’t know that we will ever fully aspire to that…there are too may things that I still love to buy at the store. But, when we can pull up our own carrots, strawberries, onions, beets, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, spinach, and mesclun greens and then head over to the chicken coop to pick some fresh eggs…there is something that fills the heart when we have cared for the very things that will care for and sustain us in return.

  4. Open Space Makes Room for Everything Else:

    We are still city people at heart. We love walking the blocks of interesting restaurants and weird Portland shops. But while we have been living in a more open space, we have been asked by our circumstances to consider our biggest priorities and hopes as a family, our closest friendships, and our value of pace of life. These things have been invaluable to us, and I can’t wait to discover what our second spring and summer will reveal to us.

  5. The Kindness of Neighbors:

    For whatever reason, before we lived in this little farmhouse, we hadn’t really bonded with our neighbors (and we’ve lived about 4 other locations prior to this!). But in this place, on this dead-end street, we share our eggs and herbs, we listen to the country veterans complain about the coyotes and the encroaching and modern construction, and we take care of each others’ chickens. It’s a kinder way of life that I am growing to love, and it opens up so many more opportunities to show our little 2-year-old OIiver what it means to physically love your neighbor.

Thank you for joining in with us on this journey. I hope you walk away from these posts with a smile, or perhaps more questions, or even with an open mind about something new.

Jamie L. Robison