Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Country Roads, Take Me Home

So much to do...and see!

When we weren't fixing up the house or unpacking (which we are still doing, by the way), we went sightseeing and checked out the local scenery. Some of the views were spectacular! Unfortunately, I can't share some sights because stopping on a two-lane mountain road to take pictures when everyone is doing seventy is a big no-no.

Please forgive the windshield.

Though sometimes, the traffic was sparse, and we could.

That was the first two weeks. Then things started to get colorful. Unfortunately, our cameras don't capture the depth of the colors- but they were so pretty!

The sunsets were pretty too...

And then we had our first frost. As the sun rose, the trees protected some of the crystals- this was across our street...

It gets below freezing at night now, yet the days are surprisingly warm- in the sixties. 

Neighbors are already asking what we're doing with the store, and after we tell them, they ask when we plan to open the bakery cafe. Yikes-We haven't finished unpacking yet!

We still don't have internet or phone service. It's a blessing, not a hindrance, because we have more house repairs to do than expected. But, if we don't get connected soon, our daughter won't be able to do her college classes online come the spring semester, and we can't get our cooking videos out like we'd planned.

We're still hopeful and optimistic, though! God is good, and this could be just another lull before the last big push to get the store up and running. Whatever He has planned, we'll do. All we ask is that you keep us in prayer. If two or three pray, it's a powerful thing, so imagine if everyone who reads this prays- that's super powerful!

I hope you enjoyed some of our country roads!

Monday, November 1, 2021

City House, Country House

(post-dated on 10/21/21)

I knew life in the country would be different, but I didn't think the changes would be so drastic. I'm sure the lack of internet and phone connections (due to postal and service screw-ups) has a lot to do with it.

One of the biggest hardships so far is getting signals so we can communicate with the world. That's one of the reasons this blog post is post-dated. I had to write it minus the internet and insert it into my blog when we finally had a connection.

We got frustrated enough that we drove over an hour away to a Starbucks so we'd have wifi and could communicate with the world (this sentence was written today, 11/1/21.)

As for the phone? Until we get our new service, we have to drive a minimum of seven miles to the nearest business that offers a connective hot spot. We do this every day, so my husband can get his messages and do correspondence. It takes about an hour or so, sitting in the business's parking lot before opening hours (it doesn't open until the afternoon three days a week, another quirk which is common here), so we aren't taking up valuable money-earning space.

Imagine, if you will, a family of three huddled in their van, raptly transfixed on their mobile devices, sitting in an empty parking lot almost every day. Why? Just to make phone calls, connect to games, and update their downloadable library because their hard copy books are still packed.

Yep. That's us.

The entire week we've been living it, Country Life has been one challenge after another, most of them good, and some of them interesting. But, I still don't consider myself a homesteader. Still, as I write this, I'm making two enormous kettles of homemade tomato sauce because the farmers practically gave the last of their tomato crops away. And I still have more to make tomorrow.

Don't look at me like that. Tomatoes were on sale, and we had an empty trunk!

(Update: We wound up with five and a half gallons of tomato base!)

Ahem. Back to the comparisons.

The water here is from a well and tastes fantastic! The city water always tasted like chlorine and rust- so much so that we had to filter it to make it taste right. The well water is pumped directly into the plumbing and is the best I've ever tasted, straight from the rocks. The locals even know where the spring origin is and are willing to show us once we get settled.

The water is free, but the electricity is expensive. So is the propane. And Kerosene. And oil. Choose your fuels wisely, folks. You can't keep this stuff in the garage because there's no natural gas in the boonies.

At least for the older folks, the internet isn't essential; many don't have or use it. Although it's still a bit funny to hear the Mennonite lady who runs a fabric store out of her home yell to us, "Check us out on Facebook!"

People 'make do,' and often, most of their repairs are DIY projects with some interesting results. Our house is full of them, and my husband puts a lot of effort into making the 'make do's' into 'fixed properlies.'

Let's just say that, around here, you don't need an electricians' degree to rewire your house. However, most people feel one outlet per room is enough. It isn't.

Carpeting is an option, but only downstairs. It's a must upstairs. Curtains are also optional and don't have to cover the entire window. Want a half-curtain? Just use scissors. It's one of them 'make-do' thangs.

Insect life teems here; if you don't like bugs, don't live here. Seriously. The good part is most of the bugs here are harmless and non-aggressive except for these little orangy-yellow school bus-colored ladybug-like beetles. They may be cute, but they bite.

We haven't seen a roach/waterbug yet, but there are enough of those tiny school bus beetles to choke a goat- or clog up every light fixture in the house.

And spiders. One visited our kitchen and did a DIY project overnight, using our ceiling fan chain.

Stinkbugs don't do much else other than scare the crap out of you as they buzz about the house like mini helicopters, but once they've landed, they will happily climb onto any spare paper you have so you can give them a nice whirlpool funeral. Just don't squish them, and you're good to go.

Even the bees are friendly here- they just give you a little once-over (as long as you don't scream and flail about like those attention-getting air-blown tube people) and fly off once they realize you're not some weirdly shaped flower.

You can burn paper trash in your yard- in fact, they encourage it. Why? Because the only way you'll get trash collection is to buy specially colored contractor bags at the local grocery store at five bucks a pop- then you have to have to pay the service to haul the bags away, and you can only have four bags at most a week.

So, once a week, we cook over a nice, big fire. Frugality is critical here.

(That's the garage in the background, not the house. 
My husband built the fire pit. I love it!)

Nearly everyone here is 75% or more self-reliant. Anything growing on their land, be it plant or animal, is considered a chance for profit or sustainability. Our property has a few chestnut trees, a cedar tree, a pear tree, and a small grape arbor. They are pretty to see, but now that we live here, we realize that what we used to see as decorative can also be used for profit. So now our thoughts are, what can we do to make something from the fruit and nuts they bear?  

Our neighbors hammered home this point when they came over, five-gallon bucket in hand, asking if they could pick some pears for canning. They do this each year, and since we just moved, we didn't have an issue- so we gave them permission, thinking they were taking all of the pears. Nope, they only wanted enough to fill up their bucket; but I heard my husband say he wanted to see what he could use them for next year. Like we need more to do!

Speaking of neighbors, most were friendly, and some (including the pear-canning people) offered us some of their homemade goods- including a few dozen fresh eggs and a jar of apple butter. Others have yet to introduce themselves, and some were a bit wary, asking what we planned to do with the store, then promptly telling us 'Well, that won't work here,' when we mentioned our plans. But most people are glad to see we're doing something useful with the building.

Just wait until they see what's coming to their old general store!

Here are a few other things we learned this week about country life:

Cows wake up at 4 am.

'Down the road a bit' could mean a mile or ten miles.

Directions are given by 'So-and-so's house' if you know the area or 'That house with the white sign and brown horse in the field' if you don't.

There are no franchises anywhere for at least a fifty-mile radius.

Major cable and internet companies don't build here- yet.

Conservatives are plentiful, and they love God, America, and Trump deeply- and they aren't afraid to speak their minds!

People here are patient and will wait in line without a fuss. But get them on the roads and watch a good ol' boy nearly run you over with his truck as he passes you.

Speed limits are optional.

People are more sociable, and everyone waves back, even if they don't know you.

Sit out on your porch, and the local dogs will come over for a visit. One is named Benny. He's the mayor of our four-tenths-of-a-mile village, and he arrives daily for a pet and a cuddle when we're outside. He even smiles!

Chickens, oddly enough, won't cross when they see a car coming. So I guess that answers that old joke- He crossed the road because there wasn't any traffic!

Ducks, however, don't give a crap what speed you're going and will cross the road to either be run over or glare at you indignantly if you stop and yell at them.

The sun rises late and sets early due to the mountains. And nighttime is dark, like black-hole dark. It's pretty common to hit deer and other smaller mammals out here because there aren't many street lights if any.

The stars are like glitter on black velvet when the sky is clear. I had no idea there were that many stars in the sky! It really does look like those space scenes in Star Trek

It still feels a bit surreal to us, like we're here on a working vacation and will have to go back to Philly soon. Actually, we have to go back, but it's only because we have to get the rest of our stuff out of storage. So after this weekend, we'll be at the new place for two straight weeks. Sometimes it feels like we just got here, but most times, it feels like we've been here for years.

Maybe it just took time for our bodies to catch up with our hearts.

(Update: we moved the rest of our things last weekend. So now we just have to find spots for most of it. We're planning a huge yard sale when we're done because all of our stuff just isn't going to fit!)

The sun and birds greet us every morning. Sometimes the cows do too. Even on cloudy days, it's bright outside, and the air is crisp and fresh with a touch of winters' chill. The trees are just turning to flame colors, and migrating birds point the way south.

(the backyard)

It's peaceful.

It's comforting.

It's home.