I’ve been thinking about the reality of tree changes lately. Mostly I talk about the good things we’ve been doing, and share the fun bits of our life. The truth is though, what I imagined life would be like down here, is very different to how it actually is. When I read back over the early posts of my blog I often have a laugh at how idealistic they were. Lots of talk about time together, romantic notions about being part of a community, and so forth.
Don’t get me wrong, there are so many good things about moving to the country, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. I don’t take what we have for granted. Not one tiny bit. Today however, I want to tell the truth about some of the things I find hard about country life.
The first thing you need to know is that the novelty has worn off! During our first year here everything was new and exciting. It was exhausting, but the excitement carried me through. During the second year, I felt more at home (but still not a local), and some of the novelty had worn off, but by the third year, the novelty has definitely gone. This is just my life now. The excitement of growing too many cucumbers the first year, has turned into ‘what the heck am I going to do with that many cucumbers again??’
Living in a small community, particularly as a teacher, I feel that I am in the spotlight a lot. When I go to the supermarket, I run into students and their parents, all who know who I am. My kids are watched at to see how they behave, and the parents often want to ask me questions about what I am cooking with their kid etc. After teaching in the city, where I rarely ran into a student, I find the blur between my personal life and professional life hard, and I definitely feel some pressure.
Also because my husband grew up here, and his parents live here, a lot of people know who I am, and start talking to me as though I know them, though in reality I haven’t got a clue who they are. I’m slowly putting together names and faces etc. Just last week while I was getting petrol some one asked me how my parents in laws were getting on, and how my work was going, and I still haven’t a clue who they were.
Something I have had to get used to is the amount of planning that it takes to get things we need or want. The town where I teach is tiny, so anything more than basic groceries means a trip somewhere. Even the bigger towns don’t always have what I’m looking for. I find it so frustrating when I’m in the middle of a project and don’t have something I need. Although you can buy things like fabric on line, it’s hard to tell what they really look like so I often have to cross my fingers and hope that it is OK. I never really comprehended how inconvenient life is when you’re not close to shops and services. Double that when you think that I teach Food and Textiles – the time I spend finding the bits and pieces I need for my classes is incredible!
One thing I people say to me all the time is how lucky we are to have all that space. Yes I know we are lucky, but boy does it take a lot of time to maintain. CB spends hours everyday keeping the garden and the farm going. Whether it is five acres or five hundred acres (or five thousand) the land still need to be kept in good order. This means digging thistles, keeping the grass down (with animals, or mowing), checking the fence and dams. All this takes time, and the more land, the more work and time it takes. Because we live right in the middle of it, there is always more work. In the summer months CB generally heads back out after dinner to get some work done while I wrangle, threaten, and cajole the kids into bed. Before we moved here, I imagined our life would be similar to our 9-5 work day lifestyle in the city. I had no idea about the amount of time that a farm takes.
Drought and the vagaries of the weather add to the pressure of life here. We’ve had not enough rain for two years now, and for many farmers the pressure is on. Even though we are lucky that I have a job that isn’t dependent on rain, the whole community is starting to feel the strain. Businesses in town are commenting that there are fewer people spending money. It’s hard to get used to not being in control.
This isn’t meant to be a ‘downer’ post. There are so many good things about living in the country. I love our produce. I love the environment. I know we are fortunate. But I find it so frustrating when I get told that I’m living peoples dream. It’s like I’m not allowed to acknowledge the hard parts, or the bits I struggle with, because I have to be ‘living the dream’. The problem with all dreams, is that they are not based in reality.
Do you dream of moving to the country? Have you considered the downside of tree changing? I would love to know what you think!