Country Living Tips

As I learn and the country tips come to me, I’ll add them here and share with you!
The cow's life in the field is the epitomy of how we think of country living.

  • Nothing grows under a walnut tree. The base of the tree and roots set off a toxic (to other plants) secretion.
  • Do not flush cooking oil or grease, bleach or any other harmful chemical down the drain, you will ruin your septic balance.
  • Rocking chairs are the ultimate country living comfort chair. You will need at least two – one for you and the other for your spouse or company.
  • If you are raising pigs and their pen is outside make sure you provide them with ample covered space as well, they need to get out of the elements from time to time and feel safer at night sleeping under cover.
  • Every 6 months throw an ounce of bleach into your dug well to keep bacteria down. Every year have an analysis done on a sample of water from your tap.
  • Water that flows on your property or property line is not necessarily yours for the taking. Check with local authorities before tampering with or redirecting the flow.
  • Oak, cherry and hickory provide the hottest, longest heat source. They out heat pine and poplar by over 100%.
  • Leave any tree stumps where they sit, they are a great source of food for woodpeckers (or homes if large enough).
  • Geese will protect your barn animals from many predators. Many mornings I found coyote fur in the barn pulled out of the hungry animal by my geese. They fight for their lives with beaks and huge flapping wings, all the while sounding the alarm with their loud honks and hissing.
  • Compost takes longer to break down under evergreen trees.
  • Give up on your clothes dryer if you want to cut down your hydro bill by about 20%. Hang clothes outside, or dry on a wood hanger inside in the winter.
  • Sheep are great lawn mowers. You need at least three for them to be happy and they tend to roam so you will need good fencing, page wire fences work best.
  • Plan for a little herb garden by the kitchen door. Once you start cooking with fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, etc. you will bemoan the winter months.
  • One acre of land takes one person 3 weeks to turn over. A horse and plow – one day. A tractor – 4 hours.
  • Cows thrive on timely routine.
  • If you must buy firewood, buy it by the logs and cut and split it yourself. If chainsaws intimidate you, hire a local lad to block it up for you. Let it sit outside for 3 months if you can, it is easier to split with an axe after it has seasoned in the air and sun. If frost gets into the blocks…easier still to chop.
  • Marigolds repel insects of all kinds including mosquitoes. Plant them in your vegetable garden to keep down aphid and slug population.
  • Hens lay nearly 300 eggs a year in their prime. Geese only 20 per year. If you can get the egg from the goose you can use it in baking, but baby geese are the cutest things so I always let the momma hatch hers. After two months, get any eggs that have not hatched out of the barn. They eventually rot and explode and the smell will stay for months afterward.
  • Squirrels, raccoons, wild dogs and bears will raid your compost pile if not covered. Plastic compost bins are cheap and will save the mess of scavengers. (Of course I’m not making any promises! We keep ours covered and the pests have been known to come around when the food is growing scarce in the forest.)
  • Overalls, long johns and rubber boots are all the rage in the country – and make the most sense too!
  • Grow heirloom vegetables for no fuss gardening and genetically sound produce.
  • Every five foot rows of planted potatoes yields 10 lbs. – approximately 1 month supply per family of three.
  • If your property is overrun with brush and bushes, buy a goat or two. They will clear it up in no time. A word of caution here: goats will also eat your fruit trees, flower and vegetable gardens, and anything else within their fenced range. Good fencing goes hand in hand with goats.
  • An oxen is just a castrated bull of any breed of cattle.
  • You can obtain a level of self-sufficiency on 15 acres of land. Try to factor in a 5 acre renewable wood lot if you are living in harsh climate and heating with wood.
  • If you ever have to move a pig from one place to another never let it see an escape route. Either build makeshift walls from point A to B or place a bucket over its head and lead it by a rope and collar.
  • Keep some cedar kindling near the fire to get it lit faster.
  • Watch country auctions for used tractors and buy the first one you can afford. They run for ages and require little maintenance.
  • Erratically watered cauliflower grows erratically. Water it regularly to ensure it grows in a nice neat ball.
  • Five acres of hay takes a tractor 3 hours to cut. After a few days, turn the hay. After a few more days bale it.
  • Installing a fence gate? Gates open into the field so that animals can not push against and open them.
About Laura Childs

Country Living enthusiast Laura Childs was a downtown city girl for many years before heading to the hills to live a sustainable lifestyle, raise her daughter, get back to the land, and learn the time tested traditions of a simpler era.

Throughout her farm life adventures of raising animals, working from home, home schooling her daughter, and being more green, Laura Childs has been sharing on the GoodByeCityLife website through articles and personal musings since 1998.

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