What Growing Up in a Small Town Taught Me.

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?

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Christmas in the Country Gift Exchange.

On December 21st, I gave everyone a sneak peek of my gift. Here’s a reminder (or in case you missed it):
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My gift was from Heather from Double H Photography (check out her Facebook page here). She’s great blogger and great photographer, be sure to check out her blog. And now to reveal what I received:
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Click photos to enlarge.

Items in the package:
*Christmas card
*2014 Real Buckaroo Calendar (Heather’s photo is featured in November.)
*Red & Green Potholders
*Cute chicken magnet
*Set of note cards featuring Heather’s farm photography.
*Coffee mug, coffee, and chocolate bar.
*Kaycee Cutter (for cutting hay twine, plastic, etc.) Made in Heather’s hometown.
*Cute Christmas stocking wall hanger

My secret gift was sent to Jenny from The Magic Farmhouse (Facebook page here). Check out her blog to see what I sent. Also, check out the rest of the 25 blogs that signed up to see who everyone had and what they received, check out the link up here!

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Winter on the Farm.

Winter on the Farm.

Winter on the farm.
It’s pretty. It means Christmas will soon be here. It means snowmobiling. It means the New Year will be here soon.
But it also means: cold.
Really, really cold.
The corn has been harvested and now the wind blows like crazy. We don’t have many trees (well actually we just have one) but we have a lot of really big buildings. This blocks a lot of the wind but it still whips around. Snow blows and drifts easily in the country. And anytime there is a major snowfall there’s no doubt the gravel roads will drift shut. When we have a blizzard the snow drifts right up by our front door, last year we had a couple of 3-4ft. drifts right outside the door. Such a nice surprise to open the door and get a face full of freezing cold snow. Wakes you right up! Thank God for tractors & buckets. Because a shovel ain’t going to cut it! We don’t have that much snow yet, maybe 6 inches so far, but it’ll come.
You would think that since gravel roads have loose gravel and have texture that they would be easier to drive on and less slick. That’s not always the case. Gravel roads are going to be the last ones the county comes out to clean, they also don’t get salt or deicer put on them before the storm or after for that matter. Last year when we had that big ice storm the gravel roads were 10x as bad as the paved roads. 4×4 is pretty much a requirement of living in the country. Well not necessarily a requirement, I know a lot of people that have cars that live in the country, but 4×4 makes your life so much easier. Just use your head, and drive safe!
The weather has been very cold this last week, and that makes everything harder. As I sit here typing this it is -1 outside, but with the windchill feels like -20. Working outside is harder, working in unheated buildings is harder, checking the mail is harder (ahem, I drive 😉 – too far to walk, may freeze to death), bringing in groceries is harder, just being outside doing anything is harder. In fact when it feels double digits below zero, it makes leaving the house harder. If you have to be outside a lot in the cold I suggest investing in a pair of Carhartt bibs, the nice insulated ones. They have nice coats that match them also, I have one and I’m happy with it. But seriously, the one thing I could not live without is my Polaris snowmobile coat. They keep you SO warm. But if you’re working or going to get dirty/greasy don’t wear this. $300 is too much for a work coat, at least for me! But for being out and about in town or obviously for snowmobiling this coat is a must.

Famous in a Small Town.

I bet you didn’t know that my little farm town is actually famous. In the summer of 1983 Hollywood invaded the little town of Readlyn, IA to film most of the movie Country. The movie portrays the struggles farmers faced during the farm crisis of the 1980s. It was filmed in other surrounding small towns, but the majority was done in Readlyn. At the bank, the co-op, the city hall, and the bar. They couldn’t have picked a better town to depict farmers across the nation. The movie would be released to the public in October 1984. Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard starred in the film. We’re also known for being the town of ‘857 people and One Old Grump’. We celebrate Grump Days each summer and someone is named the town grump. But that’s a story for another day! 🙂

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“In this country, when the land is your life…you fight for your life.”

What it is really like to date a farm boy.

So you want to know what it’s like to date a farm boy?
Well here it is, the cold hard truth.
And my farm boy also happens to be a diesel mechanic.

Plans change every day. You’re going to have to be flexible. Very flexible.
There are no 8-5 jobs or 40 hours work weeks. It’s basically 24/7/365.
He’ll track dirt all over the kitchen floor & wash his greasy hands in the bathroom sink.
You’ll be recruited for parts runs, moving equipment, picking up & dropping people off at different fields, and moving trucks around.
They’ll say “what is that?” when you wear a new dress or blouse.
Be ready for some late nights and early mornings.
Carrying around sockets or wrenches in your purse will become totally normal.
You’ll have to get used to being home alone a lot.
They are still men, they are still human. They make mistakes, they’ll make you mad.
Supper will be delayed on a regular basis. You’ll starve until 9pm or eat by yourself.
On the somewhat rare occasion when you get dressed up and go out you may want to bring a set of normal clothes along because you’ll never know what the night will bring. And I don’t mean any sexual. I mean like pulling a friend’s truck out of the ditch and having to drag it home.
They think you look sexiest in your work clothes, not that expensive outfit you just bought.
His idea of a date is working on a truck in the shop.

If I haven’t scared you off yet, there are many great things about dating this type:

He’s a handyman. He can fix anything & everything
They’re manly. They aren’t prissy and aren’t afraid to get dirty.
Unlike most men they will try not to repeat past mistakes.
This life makes for some unique dates. Tractor ride, anyone?
They like to take care of their girl.
They are good with their hands.
He knows how to use all sorts of equipment.
They are traditionally loyal and protective.
They will teach you so much.
He’ll know how to make you laugh.
They’ll make you feel like you’ve never felt before.
Life in the country is best.
They aren’t afraid of putting down roots.
He’ll have muscles you can’t get anywhere but a farm.
There’s something sexy about working the land.
Most farmers want to keep the farm in the family. Thus, they want children.
He will work hard every single day of the year without complaint.
Fresh air, starry skies, and cornfields as far as you can see.
They will hold you closer and tighter and with more affection than any other man you’ve ever known.

Even though it’s not the easiest job in the world, I wouldn’t give up my country man for anything in the world.

Fair Week.

Our county fair start Saturday and runs through Sunday. Saturday is just set-up and some bands play at night and the last Sunday is clean-up, take down, and release of exhibits. Starting Saturday night and continuing through next Saturday night we are busy every night. I tried to come up with a more clever title for this post but ‘fair week’ summed it up pretty good. Tonight Kyle thinks he’s just going to work on his truck and bus all night but I have other plans. Like you know a dinner & movie. But I’d settle for just dinner. Hint hint. 🙂

Our next week or so looks like this:
Saturday: Bus Races (this is actually at a different counties fair).*
Sunday: Farmer’s Tractor Pull (Sigh, Kyle just sold his pulling tractor so he won’t pull in this).
Monday: Tuff Truck Competition. It’s an obstacle course for junk vehicles.*
Tuesday: I work 1:30-9:30pm and Kyle has a friend’s birthday party.
Wednesday: Combine Demolition Derby. Pretty self-explanatory.*
Thursday: Scrambles.
Friday: REO Speedwagon concert. Not 100% for sure if we’re going.
Saturday: NTPA tractor pull.
*These are events Kyle will partake in. He’s quite the little go-getter, isn’t he?

I hate to say it but there will also probably be a lack of blog posts during this time, but I’ll do my best!