Growing up (and living) in the country outside of small towns has taught me a lot over the years. This is a list of the top things you learn growing up in a small town.
How to be neighborly. We learned to show everyone respect, especially our elders. People know they can call anytime and you’ll be there to help (and vise versa). We’ll give you the shirt off our backs and not expect anything in return. And of course when we pass you on the road we’ll wave.
How to drive (on gravel roads). If you live in the country I guarantee you’ve been stuck behind that car going 20mph down the middle of the road. Well we learned long ago (usually before we we’re 14) how to drive on gravel. You better stick to your side of the road when going over hills and be alert because there might be a slow moving tractor on the other side. In general, I think small town folks are better drivers. Maybe it’s because we learned sooner. Or maybe because we have to drive everywhere (no subway or walking-distance around here). Maybe it’s because life moves a little slower around here. Ever been to a big city? People can’t drive.
Give farm equipment and semis the right of way. AKA share the road and use your head. Semis can’t stop on a dime. I see this all the time during harvest time, people pulling out in front of us. More than once there have been close calls. A semi hauling 80,000lbs. of corn can’t just slam on the breaks and stop – so use you’re head because it’s semi vs. your car – you’re not going to win. Tractors can’t go 55mph and they take up the road. Slow down and pass them when it’s safe. When passing by get as far over on your side as you can. Remember we’re working all day to get food on your plate and clothes on your back.
How to live off the land. One of the first things we learned growing up was how to plant a garden – to grow our own groceries. We learn to grow gardens, crops, hogs, cattle, and chickens. We can plant, grow, harvest, and cook. We can do all this with our own two hands.
That doesn’t stink, it smells like money. A lot of people complain about the smell of manure. In fact because of that, there are many rules and regulations on where hog buildings, etc. can be built. But us country folks know that it doesn’t stink, that’s our income. Whether it be from the hog building, turkey farm, cattle ranch or the fertilizer on the field – it’s an important part of growing and raising the food that feeds everyone.
Hardwork and dedication. From the time we were able to walk and talk we were given chores. You have to pull your weight around here. You don’t know what hard work is until you’ve bailed and stacked hay on a hot summer day. Growing up with animals (or gardens) you learn dedication. You have to feed them, water them, clean them. You have to work with them daily. This instilled at a young age make us more passionate and dedicated to our future. School, jobs, animals, relationship, agriculture, hobbies, activities – the list is endless.
News travels fast. You always had to think before you acted. Whatever you did someone would see it or find out and everyone would know before you got home. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It kept us in line (or tried). Also, if you we’re down on your luck, in bad heath, etc. people would bond together to help you out. Whether it be lending a hand, bringing you a hot meal, finishing harvest for a farmer who died, or just a friendly phone call.
It’s home. No matter how far you travel or where life takes you, you can always come back. You’ll be greeted with the same smiles, waves, and hellos as before. This closeness shows you the true meaning of community. In a small town you are able to build friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime.
I couldn’t have picked a better place to grow up. There are some values and principles you just can’t learn anywhere else but in a small town. Here’s to faith, family, friends, food, farming, and small town living.
Did you grow up in a small town or a big city? What values do you think you were instilled with because of this?