When we moved from the city to the country in 2011, we were looking for land. I wanted more room to grow things, and Robert wanted to have a vineyard and sheep. As an introvert, I was also looking for privacy and somewhere more quiet and peaceful. We found good land, and it is private, quiet and peaceful. But we found something else that we hadn’t anticipated. Community, and ourselves.
In the city, I found neighbours intrusive and had few friends. In the country, I have lots of friends, an active social life, and a sense of belonging. In rural areas, you rely on each other and support each other. Need hay? A neighbour will track some down at a good price, someone will loan you a big truck and trailer, and another neighbour will offer to store the hay in his big barn. If someone sees a bear or cougar, they alert their neighbours with livestock and dogs. If a tree blows down, everyone shows up with a chainsaw. Roaming dogs are leashed and held for their owners.
In rural communities, it is important to know your neighbours. It’s a long drive to anywhere, so you help each other. Going to town? Maybe your neighbour would like you to pick something up for them. A Costco run? Who else wants to come? Truck broke down – we can give you a ride or try to fix it. We lend equipment to each other. Too many blueberries? Maybe the folks down the street would like some. Leaving town? Someone will feed the sheep.
The power goes out, the highway gets closed by yet another accident, the weather locks you down, a storm surge floods the road. It is just part of life. You learn to live simply, complain less, use less, reuse all you can, appreciate the natural beauty surrounding you, forage, grow your own food, preserve food for the winter months. You work hard and wake up at sunrise. You also go to bed pretty early!
You meet your neighbours while wearing pajamas and gumboots, looking for the escaped sheep. They don’t tease you about it, and they’ll help you search. Everyone has a barking dog, and no one complains. Other farmers come for cocktails and spend the afternoon in the barn discussing the nutritional value of hay. No one is bored. It is such a rich and satisfying life, and I can’t imagine living in isolation in a city again. The Far Side has been a blessing.