Tag Archives: stereotypes

Moving to the country gonna eat a lot of peaches…

25 Aug

What is it about the country life that evokes visions of peace, charm, freedom and solitude to some and isolation, hard work, boredom and inconvenience to others? Why are some people drawn to it and some people not?

I often think of my Grandfather who (according to him) was a real cowboy. I actually believe it more now than I did as a kid. I grew up in the Midwest in a college town and only knew of the “cowboy” through Hollywood depictions. Grandpa wore the right boots, shirts and denim to fit the stereotype but that’s where it ended. He was probably the only real cowboy I’ve ever met and yet he was one of the kindest, gentlest spirits I have ever known.

My grandfather moved from North Dakota to Los Angeles in his early 30’s when job growth was becoming the big deal out in CA. This must have been during the late 1930’s. Although he eventually owned several acres in the greater L.A. area in order to keep his horse, his heart just wasn’t there. I believe that he despised the noise, the dirty air, the concrete and the (too fast for him) pace of life. Grandpa couldn’t wait to get out of L.A. and move to Montana. He retired early and did just that.

Some people love the energy of a big city. They love the shopping, the restaurants, the social scene, the traffic, the noise. I guess I’m not one of those people. I want dark nights where I can see the stars, I want to hear only the bugs and the birds. I want to be in uninterrupted contact with nature and I don’t want to visit it, I want to exist in it. I am like my grandfather in that regard. But I had to come full circle (just like he did) to get there.

Now that I am really out “in the hills”, I have met country people and shockingly, they don’t seem to “fit” all the “stereotypes” either! The wisdom they have shared, the friendly help they have offered and the way they have welcomed my family into this community has been amazing. I also believe that some of the old-timers around here are truly a treasure.

First hand knowledge and experience is invaluable to anyone just starting out on a farming journey – there is so much to learn. I have asked for and received information about chickens, pigs, cows, goats, tomatoes, potatoes, okra, putting in a pond, butchering, cooking, making wine, moonshine, the history of this area, how to treat poison ivy (medicinally) and where to buy my hog panels. Oh, and how to grow a lot of peaches.

I know people that utilize Hollywood stereotypes to describe country folk, or anyone different than they are, actually. The comments based on these stereotypes can get pretty ugly. Since the saying goes: Arguing with a fool makes you a greater fool, why comment. However, I find it interesting that these put-downs are devoid of first-hand personal experiences. Where do these concepts about country people come from? Movies that portray “Hillbillies” as ignorant and in-bred or as scary deviant murderers? If you travel at all, you know that people are people, where ever you go. So why do some people feed into these stereotypes? Doesn’t this behavior act as a way to divide us rather than allow for a cultural appreciation of the different regions and communities that America has to offer? Clearly stereotypes are everywhere, including the South, but really, can’t we all just get along?

According to Tom Dorrance, “the long way is the short way” when training horses. I think my Grandfather subscribed to a similar philosophy. I think this applies to the small-holder as well. I’d like to add that “the old way is the new way” in sustainable farming, you just have to go back far enough. All the talk about re-localizing and organic/sustainable farming is great for our communities. However, the irony is that some of these old country folk or “Hillbillies” If you will, are living-history regarding certain farming practices that have almost been completely lost. And you can bet your peaches I’ll be covering this stuff.

As it is, I moved to the country and am eating a lot of peaches, but the best part about being here is the people. I could not effectively farm without their knowledge or help. Clearly people are either cut out for country life or not. I say, if you want to find happiness, ignore the stereotypes and do what you are passionate about. It may take a while, require sacrifice and even some huge lifestyle changes – but if it’s your path, take it.

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