Confessions of a (Former) Townie

I admit it. I was a town kid. Oh, I lived in a small town or two when I was young, but always in the town limits and didn’t have any exposure to farm country. Well, except that one memorable summer I went to stay with my cousins for two weeks on their farm. That’s a whole other post.

In my junior high and high school years (or should that now be “middle school”…am I dating myself?) we lived in the state capital. My school had one boy who could be even remotely considered a farm kid and he was so quiet that we pretty much forgot he even was there.

Although my parents were big into camping, and my father actually worked on his uncle’s farm when he was a kid, I was kept sheltered from the world of agriculture. I’ve found in later years that there are lots of kids that are. Kids that drink milk, eat meat, vegetables and fruit, and have no clue where they come from before they get to the isles of the nearest grocery store.

I at least thought I knew these things until I met my farmer-husband and found out how clueless I truly was. For the first time I am revealing some of my “misconceptions” about the country a.k.a. all that space outside of the city limits. In some ways it really is a foreign country.

* Most of the corn that is growing in the fields, at least here in the Midwest, is not the sweet corn that people eat. It is field corn. It is used for animal feed and corn oil and ethanol. Trust me, you do not want to eat it.

* The “beans” that are growing in the fields in the Midwest are not “green”, “pinto”, “lima” or variations thereof. They are soybeans. They are edible and have been sold roasted and salted as pumpkins seeds or sunflower seeds are, but the majority of it is used again for animal feeds, fuels, and cooking oils and additives.

* Country roads are laid out by miles, not blocks. One city block does not equal one country ‘block’.

* They ARE roads, not streets.

* They used to all be numbered with weird county names like R38 or E26. Unless you get 911 service in your area. Then they come and give your house a real address number (not just a “rural route” number) and your street a real name. However, unless you are talking to another townie or townie transplant? You will probably still be referred to the R number or E number or how many miles past some local landmark.

* In town, we are given directions by “turn left” or “turn right” or “go straight”. In the country, you learn damn quick (even if you have to get out your sundial) north, south, east and west… ‘cause that is the only way you will be given directions.

* The driveway to your city home is considered to be a country lane leading to your house.

* Lunch in town is the noon meal. Lunch in the country is a snack. Dinner in town is served at night. Dinner in the country is served at noon. Supper in town is served – if at all – as an early evening meal. Supper in the country is served at night, usually whenever the farmer gets out of the field, so can be anytime from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Are you confused? Boy, I sure was…

In my own defense, I would now like to point out a couple of my pet peeves. These are things that as what I now consider myself to be – a farm person – I cannot tolerate in the townies. Just so you know, these are not things I have done.

* In town, you do not step off the sidewalk for any reason, unless you are in a public park (or it is your own yard). Fences have been erected for small infractions of children ‘cutting through’ on lot lines to go to school. Newer communities have constructed bicycle and walking paths that weave in and among the houses, making the chance meeting of grass and feet rare. In the country, everything is community property. NOT. Do not ever make that assumption. That is a huge townie mistake. I have seen more dumb townies since moving to the country than I had my whole life up to that point. Townies think once you step outside the city limits it is all free land with no boundaries, limits, or rules. They think nothing of pulling up to a ditch, any ditch, and dumping their old Christmas tree, tires, refrigerator, or ten boxes of junk from Aunt Sara’s house that they don’t want to haul to the public junkyard because they’ll charge them $10 to dump it. Once the guy was dumb enough to dump his trash and he left mail in it. The cops tracked him down, made him clean it up, and gave him a hefty fine. That was only once out of a zillion times this has happened, however.

* My front yard is not the local country park. Do not picnic. Even if the German Shepherd is not barking at you this day.

* My barn is not your refuge in the storm. Unless you ask. You may actually be invited into the house at that point. If you just help yourself to my property without asking, you may be looking down the barrel of a shotgun. You’ve been warned.

* My fuel barrel is not the local gas station, and my water hose is not the local hydrant.

* Just because I live in the country does not mean I need to get the tractor and/or pickup truck out to pull your sorry drunk ass out of the ditch at 2:30 a.m. when you can’t make it home from the bar in one piece and you don’t want to call the cops and/or the tow truck. You’re lucky if I’ve let you use the phone…. and restrained the German Shepherd.

* Any rocks, flowers, trees or other items you find in my front yard are not free for the taking. Whether or not they are outside my home… or on the edge of my farm field. Just because you can’t see a building right there, it is not public property, but is property that I either own or rent and it is not yours.

* Last, but far from least, going out into the country is not a guarantee of privacy. Country roads were not put there for you to park and get naked. Within three miles of my house my husband and I have caught people in broad daylight ‘getting it on’. Many more have been spotted going down the country road in the middle of the night, slowing down, and the lights go out. Uh huh. We be stupid. People? Get a room. Or at least, get some common sense. Country people go up and down those gravel roads all the time and we’re usually in a pickup, semi-truck or suv that I guarantee will be able to look down into your little Toyota to see your lily-white butt doin’ the nasty. Oh? … and when you go by the field later and see us? Sheepish waving does not make it all better.

All I’ve got for today. Welcome to the Country. Be sure you have your passport ready.