A quilters introduction to country life

Posted By on February 3, 2009

Ok, call me old fashioned, but I don’t see a need to have a kitchen in my home. It only stays clean for a little while and then, time to cook and make a mess. If the kitchen was in a different building, overheating wouldn’t exist, odors wouldn’t permeate every room and, best of all, the dirty dishes couldn’t be seen. oldkitchenThat made perfect sense to me, and we set out to build a separate building for the kitchen and dining room. I’m wondering if that’s what the early settlers had in mind. My rationale was if it was good enough for Thomas Jefferson it was good enough for me. And so it was.

Having one’s kitchen and dining room about sixty feet from the primary residence isn’t as daunting as one might suppose. Well, it was a bit surprising when going to the kitchen for a midnight snack my husband encountered a skunk with the same idea.

monticelloIt’s interesting how seemingly insignificant events in one’s life influence decisions years later; at least it was in my life. I had no idea that visiting the Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, many years ago, would generate such an imprint within me.

As city folks, we purchased land in the country for our retirement. The property had only been leased for cattle and the first day we got the land we parked under a shade tree to wait for family members. Right away, a learning experience. We had parked in the cow’s feeding and pooping area. Nothing like spinning wheels and flying cow poops to get you off to a good start in country life.

To create the rustic look we felt represented our simplistic lifestyle, my husband built most of the furniture from old weathered wood. Completing the country atmosphere, we built a quilting studio on the second floor of our simple hand built cottage home. Most of my quilts are not the typical bedding items, but portrait art quilts which hang on walls; however, I put in so many windows there isn’t wall space to hang them! Instead, they are displayed on the gambrel roof ceiling. And so it goes.

We bought a refurbished nineteen forty something Ford 9N tractor to cut grass; tractorwe cleared brush, and cut down mesquite trees. Another learning experience. One should pick up ALL the thorny mesquite limbs to avoid driving the fifty mile round trip to get the tires replaced each day. And, about the brush hog, I can personally testify one should not put fingers under the thing while the blades are turning.

The water well issue was a totally different story. I had not given much thought to how water wells were dug, but when I asked the guy about the forked stick he laughed and told me to point to where I wanted it dug. I had no idea I had so much power in that index finger.

elsieAhh, buying the cows. I had never been to a livestock auction and all I knew was I wanted cows with pretty eyes. The auctioneer’s cadence was difficult to understand and they ran them in and out so fast it was tricky, but I bought two heifers. I didn’t even know what heifers were, but I was successful and, at the time, that was all that mattered. I really think I could have paid a little less for them, but I kept bidding against myself. Later they had calves, and I turned a bull into a steer with a single rubber band. Now, that’s a learning experience.

I wanted the cows to be more like pets so I was laughed out of the feed store when I asked for something to feed them that they loved so they would, in turn, love us. We let the cows have the run of the property until they began eating the window shutters and the grandchildren’s toys.

His wrap.

His wrap.

That brought on the next big adventure, learning to string a barbed wire fence. I have the utmost appreciation for someone with the knowledge of fencing a pasture. Having never examined the professional intricate wrapping of barbed wire around a post was mind boggling to say the least, and most humbling. Until I had to do it, I had never even thought of how to wrap the wire. Who would have ever thought there was an art to wrapping wire around a post, but there most certainly is, and, to this day, I haven’t mastered the beauty of it.

We did fence off eight thousand square feet for our garden. I didn’t mind sharing things with the cows, but they just kept walking all over the plants.

My wrap.

My wrap.

We planted extra for the jackrabbits, bunnies, deer, fox and other night visitors. The grasshoppers were another story.

We planted blackberries and blueberries, but I didn’t realize when I planted strawberries that the suggested planting in mounds didn’t mean two feet tall! It did make the fire ants happy though, they had a two-foot high mound in which to live, and all I had was ant bites.

I was quite excited to find a grove of wild plums on the property, which set me into learning to make jelly and canning vegetables from the garden. Since the plums were so tasty, I set off to find some wild mustang grapes. Educational opportunities abound in the country. Mustang grapes make excellent jelly, but I learned by experience that off the vine they are very bitter. The grape vines wrap around and around tree limbs and are particularly tough to remove from trees, that is, unless you grab one, put both feet together and pull with all your might. I tried it and, with one big snap I landed and broke my wrist. None of these learning opportunities are available in the city.

My kitchen.

My kitchen.

Actually, I don’t think of our farm/ranch as a rural area, I believe remote is more applicable. The closest convenience store is about eight miles, fifteen miles to the nearest grocery store, and twenty-five miles to a town. The road was paved about three years ago, which increased traffic to about ten cars a day. Commuting to and from work was a three-hour daily experience.

Rural living does not include pizza delivery or running to the store for last minute items; neighbors are miles from you, not inches away from your privacy fence; however, one can see the stars at night in all their glory; wildlife is abundant and fascinating, and raking leaves is a thing of the past.

We are the makeup of our thoughts, environment, and experiences and I hope my pioneering spirit, like those of the early settlers, is reflected in my home and my choice to live in a rural setting, even if it does take an ambulance thirty minutes to arrive.  ©Margaret Bucklew 2009


4 Responses to “A quilters introduction to country life”

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  2. Jesse says:

    A few answers to quiotesns above. We need to have the quilts in our offices by April 30. We will be seeking volunteers don’t call yet but we will post a date soon to help us process the quilts in early May. We are accepting only new quilts. We cannot accept fleece blankets or knitted and crocheted items. We are providing what our contact has asked. Other groups have other guidelines so an Internet search may turn up a place for these other items. We are accepting all sizes of quilts from baby to king. We have received mostly baby quilts, which is great. We would love to have some more adult-size quilts as you are able to send them.Our thanks to the many, many QN readers who have and are responding to our call for quilts for Japan!Dana Jones, Managing Editor

  3. Anita Estes says:

    Now this storygets me all homesick for my childhood home. Too bad the family farm is now a suburb of a small city. At least I can read your blog and sigh wistfully about the days gone long ago.

  4. Lisa Scott says:

    Wow! Great story! I teach with your daughter and think she is pretty special! I have enjoyed reading your blog and seeing your beautiful quilts!!!

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