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.

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Middle-aged. Anti-social. Mom. Grandma. Town-raised farmer's wife. Iowan. Want more? Come read the blogs.

7 thoughts on “Confessions of a (Former) Townie”

  1. OK, you’re not a real rural lifer at all if you have some problems with people parking and getting some action on some corn-hidden road. That’s the cornerstone of country living! EVERY small town has some section where the kids go park, make out, bang, whatever. You went to one when you were younger and you can probably still say the name of your own “Inspiration Point”.
    And the right/left – North/South thing…doesn’t hold true either. I know that they give theri directions that way, but that’s mostly so they can get people lost and murder them in a field somewhere immediately after sodomizing them.
    I mean…I know a lot of farmers & town folks alike that know neither their right form their left nor their north from their south. Generally, you can’t screw up right and left because your mother wrote a little R or L on your hands as a kid. North & South…people fook that up all the time.

  2. I’m a guilty townie! I’m guilty of going down the country road with my boyfriend (now my husband) and “getting it on!”
    This was a great post and really makes me long for country living (despite the negatives.) I’m SO not a townie at heart. sigh.

  3. I live in the city suburbs, but m,y heart is in the country. 😉 (OK, at least for the day we visit the pumpkin patch)
    Great post Sue! Thanks for sharing your “country and farm life” with us. 🙂

  4. My insperation point was the gravel pit in Jonesboro, no one lived around the area for miles, although it did get crowded some Saturday nights. As for the brain dead hippie naturalists mistaking your front yard for a nudist picnic ground, it sure beats drive by shootings. I remember working for a resraurant in Oak Glen as a kid coring apples in a display cage for the tourists. I once asked the owner what his pet peeve was and he said it was the weekend outdoorsman that blazed a trail from his suburb home for the afternoon to explore the great outdoors thinking that meant parking in his front yard, urinating in his garden, and carving initials in his trees to prove they had been in “the wild”. He said he once caught a city guy who grabbed a saw from his barn and was cutting a branch off of one of his apple trees, the idiot wanted to take it home and plant it in his backyard…

  5. Well I guess it’s good to know that people are idiots just about everywhere. I have lived my whole life in a big city but I was raised by people who grew up in very, very small towns in the South. Both families had “family farms” meaning SOMEONE in the family was still farming and all the kids had to spend SOME time out there working. I also grew up with the whole breakfast, dinner, supper thing which was highly confusing here in L.A. One of the things living your life in the city will do for you is that you do not EVER think that you are alone enough outdoors ANYWHERE to get naked, unless you are actually HOPING to be seen. That is an entirely different goal. Good post.

  6. I have to tell you how funny this was for me to read. Obviously, people have watched far too many movies about what it’s like to be in the country, where people do just shack up in someone else’s barn without asking.

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