There are many changes people face when transitioning to the homestead lifestyle. One of these changes is a shift in social interaction, especially for those moving form a more urban setting to a new rural life. For some people this is one of those changes that has been dreamed of for a long time. For others the change in social dynamics can be a bit of a challenge to overcome.
Some of these changes are more easily adaptable depending on each person’s personality, but none of them are insurmountable for those determined to make rural living their new lifestyle. whether you feel the change will or will not be a challenge, it is still best to know more about the changes headed your way before jumping in head first.
For those, like us, who moved from the city to our little piece of country heaven, one of the first things you will notice is the silence. Cities are noisy places full of cars, trucks, people, sirens, lawn mowers, air conditioners, you name it. On a calm, quiet night in the country, there are times when it seems you are all alone, and for some that may not be far from the truth. This was not something of a challenge for us as the silence was one of the motivating factors for our lifestyle change. We grew used to it pretty quickly. To tell the truth, it wasn’t long before we realized it wasn’t actually silent after all. During the day there are birds singing their beautiful songs, squirrels jumping from tree to tree, the light rustling of the leaves in the soft breeze, hummingbirds whirring overhead, and an occasional neighbor popping off a few rounds from their weapon of choice. When the sun fades the night shift takes over. Armadillos, skunks, raccoons and possums begin their nightly rustling in the brush. The leaves still rustle in the breeze, but the darkness ads a bit of mystery to their sound. Of course there are the coyotes howling their nightly tunes which at times can be somewhat charming, while other times it can seem slightly alarming, but after a while these noises will become the normal background for daily life.
The population density in cities and other urban areas is far greater than that of rural areas. Your new homestead may be miles from the next family or you may be able to see other homes from your porch. The interesting dynamic though is that chances are high that you’ll get to know these neighbors far better than the dozens or more that lived within shouting distance of your urban home. Most people who live in the country either prefer the outdoors to being cooped up inside. At times there are also many chores outside that require regular attention. In the city most back yards are surrounded on all sides by privacy fences and while neighbors may be heard at times, they are rarely seen. In the country don’t be surprised if, while working or playing outside, that a friendly neighbor may stop by just to say hello or even offer to help with whatever you may be doing.
It is wise to get to know these neighbors as you may soon discover that unlike the city, good help can be harder to find. There is a wealth of knowledge about rural living that surround you. While you may find it necessary to learn how to do many new things on your own, don’t hesitate to ask questions from people who have been at this lifestyle far longer. In the city it may seem rude to ask to borrow someone else’s tools, but in the country it can often mean the difference between getting a job done or a day spent driving to the city for the tools you need. Certainly some people won’t be interested in lending their valuable items (tools), but others are very willing to help, especially if you have the ability to help them out in return at a later time. It won’t take very long to identify those interested in helping you to succeed, but only if you have the ability to ask for help.
You are Your Own Public Works
If you have notion of building a house in the country and sipping lemonade on the front porch as a full-time lifestyle, you may want to invest in a small tract of land rather than a larger one. When your driveway washes out or a fence falls over, chances are there isn’t anyone to call for help. You may be blessed with helpful neighbors, but it is important not to burden them too often with your needs as they too are likely to have plenty of their own work to do. Yes, in the country you pretty much are on your own, that is unless you have deep pockets to pay for such services. “To each their own,” as they say, but I don’t really see that as living the homesteading experience. There is a sense of pride and fulfillment in learning to do new things and accomplishing them with little to no assistance.
Adapting to Your Environment
In urban cities, entertainment and diversions are plentiful. In the country you have to learn to appreciate even the smallest things. Find pleasure in the natural world around you, after all, that’s likely one of the reasons for starting a homesteading journey. It may take some time, but if you give nature a chance, you’ll learn to love it and begin to wonder how you ever lived without it. You may find one day that you are talking to animals and plants, but that’s OK (we all do it).
New homesteaders will soon discover that things to move at a slower pace in the country. Urban life is easily tackled with plans, schedules, and routines, but in the “real world” of rural living, things have a way of getting in the way of our busy scheduled lives. The natural world we admire can throw a very fast curve ball at times and it is better to accept these things as they come than to fit them in around a detailed life plan. It is certainly a great idea to have plans, dreams and ideas, but knowing when to hit the pause button to take care of immediate concerns is a very important trait to develop. Nature is not the only source of frustration either. Remember those neighbors that are important to meet and get to know? Yes, sometimes even these important members of your new community can be a source of patience-building. You may have found the perfect piece of ground to build a new life, but you truly never know your neighbors until you’ve been there a while. Learn to embrace people’s differences and find ways to make the unpleasant things fall to the wayside. You may even be knee deep in some big project and one of those friendly neighbors may stop by at just the “wrong” time to chat. It’s alright to move the conversation along so you can get back to work, but don’t be hasty and lose the friendly hand of a good neighbor. Heck, they may even jump in and help you out – it happens more than you may know.
Freedom to Fail
In line with developing patience, it is important to develop a mindset that failure is always an option. It should never be the goal, but taking on this lifestyle, especially if it is new to you, can present obstacles you never imagined were possible. Take failures as a learning experience and find ways to improve on whatever didn’t work the last time. Sometimes failure feels just like it sounds, but honestly, there can be a joy in learning what does and does not work in particular situations. Give yourself room to grow and homesteading will eventually be everything you dreamed that it could be.
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