May 30, 2009

Country Life

I live in southeastern Virginia. This area was, some years ago rather more rural in character than it is now. The neighborhood where my folks live in Portsmouth was surrounded by farms when they moved there and when I moved into my mobile home in Newport News  it was walking distance from a working dairy. The area is all suburbs and congestion now but I occasionally encounter people with no concept of rural life complaining (or boasting) that they live in the sticks...Hampton Roads is not the is the oldest continuously populated urban areas in North America.

Many years ago, I used to live in Zuni in Isle of Wight County which is still somewhat rural (but not really). When we lived there, aside from the main state routes,  we didn't have paved roads...which sucked when the weather was bad....and we depended on wells for water. Before we got a deep well I had to change the filter under the house daily. Aside from the general store/Citgo station and a lawn and garden place, there wasn't any shopping closer than 40 minutes away.  There was a nudist colony about 10 miles away....which took advantage of the isolated nature of the area.  I never went there but I know it was on the Ivor side if the county line, in the vicinity of the insane asylum. The  little town was (and still is) dominated by the grim visage of a ruined grain elevator ...the explosion of which had cracked windows in Smithfield, some 20 miles away. There were also a few (2?) wild  kangaroos...but they are probably all dead now. Even then we were only 40 minutes from a hospital and less than an hour from downtown Norfolk. It wasn't really the wilderness.
 In recent years the area was devastated by the freak disaster that was Floyd and since then the side  roads have been paved (which is a big improvement).
It has also had many of the peanut fields filled with exburbs. These in turn are filled with people who boast of living in the country and how genuine this makes them. At one time I delivered the area (except Zuni) for UPS and at one point, while taking lunch in Windsor, I was told about a local political stink involving those roads. 
When the roads were paved many of the inhabitants of the new exburbs had tried to get the county to NOT pave the roads that did not lead to their little enclaves. They argued that the gravel (and sometimes dirt) roads made the area more authentic and picturesque. This did not sit well with people who had much experience with what it meant to deal with mucky roads in the winter and the terrible dust in the summer. Accourding to the gentleman who told me this, these people had the chutspah to claim that paved roads would encourage more people to miove into the area....just like they had...and they even sued to get the road paving stopped on environmental grounds arguing that the roads for others...(but not for them of course...but then that was a fait acompli) was an environmental problem. When they failed at that they did demand curbside garbage pickup...since it sucks to take ones garbage down to one of the county dumpster stations in ones Prius (these people are so edgy and authentic they can live in the country without a pickup truck). So no...even out in Isle of Wight County...its not the sticks...If someone claims it is cock your eybrow at them.

Why this programming detour?
Well its a tail of country living and all the cool kids are doing it...
At least this cool kid.
 Go read her tale of rural life really she's a professional writer.
It's a 10.0.
It is win. 
Read the whole thing... her writing brings all the boys to the yard.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 02:50 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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Living in the Willamette valley, I never had any confusion about what was "city life" and what was "country life". Maybe that's because my cousins lived on a farm.

They had a small herd (about 20 head, I think) of white face cattle. They had big fields where they grew and baled alfalfa (for the cattle during the winter). They also had a pretty big field where they grew vegetables and suchlike (strawberries) for Aunt Marge's canning.

So I knew what a farm really is like. On a farm you need a tractor. On a farm there will be a baling machine. On a farm there's cow manure. If there's no cow manure, it isn't a farm.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sat May 30 15:09:42 2009 (+rSRq)

2 I never lived on a farm.
In all honesty, I'm actually a pretty urbane guy, but it gets under my skin to encounter people in college claiming that living in Virginia "with the hicks" gives them some sort of rural authenticity cred. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sat May 30 15:21:00 2009 (V5zw/)

3 If there's no cow manure, it isn't a farm.

I'm sure the agricultural farm behind my apartment complex (corn right now) will be fascinated by this statement.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Sat May 30 16:14:57 2009 (hlGBx)

4 They may not have cattle but I think there's a decent chance they do have manure. They truck it in to use it as fertilizer. (Or at least in a lot of places they do.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sat May 30 17:20:58 2009 (+rSRq)

5 Depends on where in the country the corn farm is, Steven. Eastern Shore or Pennsylvania?  Yeah, they're using manure like you wouldn't believe.  Down in the Delta or in some parts of Illinois & westwards, copious NH3 & not enough cattle in the vicinity means that they rely almost entirely on chemical fertilizers. 

Around here in my stretch of central Pennsylvania, they're fond of liquid manure.  You can smell it on the breeze when the uphill farms are spraying.  And really?  We're not all that rural anymore hereabouts.  Too many condo developments in the last decade to properly qualify.  Housing prices are too damn high, for that matter.

Posted by: Mitch H. at Mon Jun 1 10:20:27 2009 (jwKxK)

6 I'm pretty sure I don't want to know what "liquid manure" is.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Mon Jun 1 17:44:09 2009 (+rSRq)

7 Google is your enemy.  It's a hell of a lot easier to apply manure with a spray truck if you liquefy it first.  What you *don't* want to do is drown in a manure lagoon.

Posted by: Mitch H. at Tue Jun 2 17:07:27 2009 (jwKxK)

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