good fences make good neighbors

We live in the country. It’s hay season… where days and nights are long with work and tractors and wagons and lemonade. You’re bound to get caught up behind a convoy of cutters and bailers and kids swinging off the back at some point, and there’s no use gettin’ fussy. It’s hay season, and there is work to be done. Just this morning I followed three tractors for over 11 miles to the grocery store. Three. Tractors. No passing. It was awesome. Rylie, at least, was highly entertained. Did I mention the 11 miles of no passing? ELEVEN MILES. gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

The fence is up, Folks. We had a 5-acre rectangle enclosed (immediately behind the pole barn and back to the top of the ravine, for those of you familiar with TexasNorth) with a 7-wire high tensile fence. It’s beautiful. It’s clean and straight and electric. I’m gonna paint a sign to put on the gate that says, ‘Yep, it’s electric and Yep, it’s on.’ Longhorns are crazy athletic (which explains part of why we Aggies have had some historical trouble with them in football) and need a bit higher fence than your usual cow. We also had a lower wire added in case we decide to add some sneaky goats to our menagerie. Next year, we’ll add another rectangle of fence on the other side of the house and start making serious headway on plans to re-raise the Old Red Barn.

Ry’s a big fan of sitting on the gate, swingin’ her legs, babblin’ at all the chickens below her. It’s a good place for a kid to be. As I watched her taking everything in, I realize that we have purposely stripped her life down to fences, big barns, and small houses. Wooden toys, old cartoons, lightening bugs. There is no movie theater, no consistant network tv, no marble slab ice cream shoppe nearby. I wonder if she will be sad about that later when she goes to A&M for college and realizes there’s a whole other world out there? I suppose I think it’s better to add things to your life later by choice rather than start with everything and have to learn to do without when you head out on your own. That’s just me talkin’ here. It’s not so much a city vs. country thing… or an Army vs. civilian thing… or even a rent vs. buy thing. It’s just a ‘make intentional decisions’ thing. We decided to start with less… in the common sense of the word. I am realizing, after our couple weeks of craziness, that this slow life… this simple but hard-working, take-your-time life… is exactly what this child needs. She is supposed to be here...at the farm. It was a shocking, humbling realization as I was once again reminded that there are plans far greater than mine at work.

People out here are serious about work, serious about NASCAR, and serious about fences. We’ve already had a minor dispute about property lines with our neighbor to the South… and our fence isn’t even on the line! We’ve left room around the entire perimeter to be able to drive it. But, we live in the country. People protect what (they think) is theirs… and rightly so. Actually, it’s not just the country. I remember a tree-trimming dispute right downtown! To avoid any future complications, hard feelings, or cow tipping we will be paying to have an official third party come out and drive a stake in the corner of the lot. Better safe than sorry- and it’s nothing personal on either side. It’s just how things are done out here. This is why The Boy handles these ‘interactions’ while I nervously bake apple pies inside and leave them on doorsteps after midnight.

The cows- 4 babies born this past Spring- will arrive as soon as our friend Dave is finished cutting his hay… so maybe a week? I know! Super fun. July is wide open for visits after the 4th, so head on out. We’ll be here.

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About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

20 responses to “good fences make good neighbors

  • diane

    Oh My Word.
    You have succinctly described my entire childhood which is a mere 5 miles from here.

    And you’re right. It’s better to learn to add later in life…Calvin College offers everything a farm girl could ever need. πŸ™‚

  • CortneyTree

    Matt and I had a semi-serious discussion about why I’m okay if our kids fuss about the clothes I make them wear or the homemade Halloween costumes instead of store bought–I fussed too, and now I know my momma was right, and I’m totally over it, and they will be one day too. Same thing with Starbucks and simple living–one day she’ll be so happy her whole life wasn’t bombarded with the noise of commercialism, and that her mommma gave her handmade presents that became heirlooms rather than junk. At least, I’m crossing my fingers that all that will be true, for us both πŸ˜‰

  • KatieKate

    Yes, Cort, yes! Exactly. We’ll put your kids and my kidson speed dial to each other so they can complain about the handmade clothes and such.

    You know, if Ry wants to be a city girl when she’s older- midnight coffe, subways, etc., awesome. I love the city. I just figure she can decide later. I’m choosing to leave all that out for now.

  • Jimmy

    Hey Rose is a “city girl” but she gets homemade clothes, gifts etc. course Zinngermans is thrown in as well and she seems well adjusted. She does need to better understand where food etc comes from, so looks like when you get your longhorns we will have to come visit.
    Pontooning lost week was great by the way.

  • Shanna Mac

    I started life on a farm, but by elementary school was only a weekend farm girl and weekday town girl. The farm was better, and I think it is why I’ve sought living away from close neighbors since I’ve been old enough to live on my own. Fortunately, Adam shares my love of seclusion.

    And Gracen pooped in the potty a little while ago!!!!

    And Avery pooped on me four times in an hour.

    Gracen wins.

  • amy

    Its nice to read about other people who want to raise the family in a more “live off the land” sort of way.
    i must admit, i am a bit jealous of all the land and farm animals you have. I hope to have chickens, goats, and honeybees before too long…

    by the way, i LOVE your blog. πŸ™‚

  • sunday

    YOU ARE AWESOME! i almost think that worth is going to wish he had married you instead of me. you are living the life he so wants. do you have water on your land. i hope you don’t b/c that would pretty much seal the deal on worth leaving me. his dream land has a creek as well. he has mentioned us coming to see ya’ll and him hunt. girl i can make a mean apple pie and wouldn’t that just be so much fun, us together in a kitchen!

  • Lisa and Gary...

    Amen, Sister. Believe me, less is more. Scottsdale (aka Snottsdale) is the epitomy of gluttonous spending, frivolous materialism and rampant consumerism. It is the shallowest of the shallow end of the pool outside of L.A., I believe, probably because so many people who live here are from L.A. It’s all about how much you have, how much you paid for it, and how it compares to what your neighbor bought; smacking painfully of “Are you good enough?” Most days, it breaks my heart to raise my daughter in this environment and I know there is war to wage to keep her grounded, humble, and thankful despite all the shiny, glittery little divas who will inevitably line up next to her at the bus stop.

    You are blessed to be rooted right where you are. Rylie will be none the wiser for what other people believe she’s lacking. Her cup will runneth over with more valuable goodness.

    Lisa

  • Mandi

    Jeff and I were just talking about this simple life yesterday. I’m for it on so many levels, but I worry about myself–not being the knitter, apple pie baker, animal lover, etc. etc. that you are. What would I do with myself?!

    Can’t wait to see pics of your longhorns! That is so awesome!

  • thekooiet

    Is blogger actually going to let me post this time??

    WHOOO HOOO! Your fence is really very, very nice! I can’t wait to see longhorns up close!

    By the way, I have two beanie baby chickens for you….and some strawberries. πŸ™‚

    (AND, blogger is giving me a hard time again!)

  • Miss Laura

    I want to come play with your cows, OK? OK? *Sigh* I must live closer to you. Maybe I can talk Josh into moving to the Bella Vista area next…even though he HATES Rockford, esp. Bella Vista. I heart you, The Boy, and Rylie too…and your chickens.

  • EllieRichellie

    I love everything you said in this post. I wish I could put my finger on it specifically, but it helps me feel that there are smart, conscientious, caring people around every corner. And that there really is an apple pie fairy!! I’m not up on my farm etiquette. . .should I send like, a ‘cow shower’ gift for your new arrivals? hugs.

  • Chelsey Meek

    I love the pic of Ry playing in the dirt. She’s gonna be like her mom, and better for it!

    Congrats on the fence…maybe it will keep me in when I finally visit.

  • Jessica, Myron and Rylie

    mmmmmmmmmm says Rylie Jayne

    That means cow in her language! She would like one too please!

  • sunday

    so please tell me you listened to the ricky skaggs song that i reguest you listen “simple life”. please oh please listen. you will make it your anthem i am sure of it!

  • KatieKate

    I did I did I did! I love it! I’m listening to it right now and Ry girl is clapping. She’s also wearing 5 bibs… it’s her new thing. But that’s another story.

  • Anonymous

    I wanna live out there with my 4 growing up fast kiddos…. but who would love the HS and MS kids in the suburbs? They should all have to move to a farm for 10 weeks before they turn 18…. You think we could make that a reality show? I’m sure someone already did. xo elly

  • Dan, Annie, Will and Mocha

    You are my hero.

  • gail

    that is so good that ry is thriving in your enviroment. isn’t God good that way?

    our son would be a nightmare in that situation as he has no impulse control, but God has chosen a small town enviroment for us where he does well.

    God knows where our kiddos will thrive and where to plant us as families.

    great post!

  • Crockpot Lady

    beautiful. I’m feeling itchy lately to pack it all in and head out to the country, any country. Your children are growing up in paradise!

    xox
    steph

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