Monday, August 30, 2010

Send me your ideas

As you all know, I've been writing a weekly column for RegularGuy.  Somehow it became my platform for country humor (don't ask me how).

Trouble is, especially with my brain-dead status during our busy season, I'm having a hard time coming up with ideas about what to write.

A reader just posted this comment:

Hi Patrice, I was reading some comments about some article this morning, someone wrote that she was "going to move to a farm, get off the grid, have a garden and a hammock" ...and I thought of you, I bet you could set her straight on the hammock part! Your blog is a great lesson on country living. 

Voila!  My next column!

Which gave me an idea.  How about if you, my beloved readers, send me your thoughts about some aspect of rural life (especially if it can be contrasted with urban life) that would give folks a chuckle?  Post your thoughts as a comment on this blog entry so we can all enjoy them, and that way I'll be able to harvest a wealth of ideas from your intelligent contributions.



  1. I don't live on a farm, but I do live in a small rural town. The first thing I learned when I moved here was that I must not alienate the local tradesmen. There is only one plumber, one carpenter, one...well, you get the idea. In my previous hometown, with a population of 50,000, there were plenty of men in the trades, so if one didn't show up or do the job to my liking, I could call another one. In my current hometown, the selection is limited and word travels fast if a customer is a pain in the rear. Here, it's either accept their skill levels and their irregular work schedules or do the job yourself. I've learned to bite my tongue.

    Anonymous Patriot

  2. Oh gosh, we were just laughing the other day about people that are so mightily offended about us killing an animal for meat yet they don't have any issues with filling their shopping carts with clean, happy little packages of chicken and beef.

    Like somehow they are not eating something just as dead as what my husband shoots? LOL

  3. Woke up with a funny (or not so funny) idea for a bumper sticker...Bush/Ombama stinks! Love your blog...keep it up!

  4. Speaking of not knowing where food really comes from, I was once backed into a very pointed barbed wire fence by a young Holstein bull who only wanted a little fun and a bit of sport. Anyone who has worked with animals has had similar experiences. What about those?

    Or how about the heartbreak of a young man or lady whose prize steer was auctioned off at the fair?

    Or even better -- what do you do just like your great grandmother did?

  5. I wish I could offer a suggestion, but I unfortunately fall into the rural wannabe category- somewhere in between city/suburb living and rural living. I have a couple of hanging planters growing various fruits/veggies, I just started a tiny compost bin, and I am learning the art and fun of canning. My goal is to truly live in the country as you do someday. I would love to have a thriving garden and raise my own animals for meat, however convincing my husband of the latter has yet to happen. He prefers his food to be faceless, as he has a tendency to grow very attached to animals. My reasoning is that I would feel much better about eating something that I raised and I knew had both a good life and a humane death, something I cannot say with any amount of certainty about those nice neat little packages in the meat case at Albertson's.

  6. Personally I would love to be able to talk to my grandmother about the depression again. Sadly she has been gone about 25 years now. But before they are all gone I wish someone would talk to about 4-6 elders from that era mabe 1/2 from the country and the others from the city and get stories of just how they faced the days as they came at them. Would be interesting to see what the difference was. Just a thought...mwp

  7. While my idea isn't really rural, it does poke fun at the fashion world. What I find funny is that everyone should their "own" style. Something totally "unique" and "creative." So long as it's still bought from a store. Meanwhile I'm making tunics, a pair of leather gauntlets and I want to make a cloak. But I doubt the fashion world will look favorably on homemade adventure gear.

  8. The subject of food, both nutritionally and safety-wise, is near and dear to my heart. I am appalled by our neighbors' lack of skills and knowledge all the way around. People seriously believe you can buy meat "made at the grocery store", the kids don't believe you when you tell them you can make potato chips or french fries out of regular potatoes, their parents think that potatoes with eyes are defective and going bad! I would love to see your wit and knowledge applied to that subject. I also appreciate anything you can share on home-schooling; so many people I talk to argue that it's just a way for bad parents to keep their kids from being shaped up by public schools, but I've seen what the inside of public schools look like and they aren't shaping up anyone! It's really nice to have solid examples from actual home-schooling households on how it really works. Thank you!

  9. Gran. Tilly, this happens to me all the time! Even after explaining the ethics of home raised/wild caught over intensively raised/feed lot animals I still get told we're just plain mean to kill an animal ourselves.
    Conversly, one of those people was laughingly telling me how, when he was fishing, he threw his empty bottle into the creek and it hit a duck, killing it. I asked if he swam out there and grabbed it to take home for dinner - no use wasting it - and he scornfully responded 'You can't eat duck'! There were so many things wrong with that that all I could do was walk away. There was no point going further.
    This is one of the reasons I don't live in the city anymore.

    Karla, perhaps you could raise homing pidgeons or prize rabbits to sell? You won't eat them but they'll be there if you have to.

  10. One of the weirdest things I see city folks do is look at expiration dates as though their very lives depend on them for protection. It doesn't seem to occur to them life went on pretty well before everything from milk to aspirin had and expiration date stamped on it. Nor do they seem able to make the distinction between "best if used by" and "utterly toxic and unusable." Duh!

    I cringe to think of the amount of perfectly good food and other products thrown away every year in this country by folks who can't think, smell or reason for themselves. And I know the manufacturers and producers of said products are just thrilled by the prospective replacement sales that must inevitably result.

    Country folks who milk their own cows, for example, can smell the milk and tell if it's clabbered...and if it is, make some biscuits!!

    G-ma T, I've had that same conversation about hunting vs. commercially butchered meat, and I'm sure a day at the feed lot and the slaughterhouse followed by a day out hunting with a good hunter would set them straight in a hurry about which is the more humane and healthy. Unfortunately it seems too much of our urban dominated population lacks a grasp of the real natural order of things. Veal vs. venison? Gee, ya think??

    Good grief! Would somebody please push me off this dang soapbox?? lol

    A. McSp

  11. I read somewhere about a Dear editor letter someone wrote just bashing those cruel heartless people who would go and hunt animals. At the end of her letter the woman admonished these people to do like her and get their meat the humane way, buy it at the grocery store. I finished that story wondering where she thought the grocery store meat came from.

  12. Along the same lines as not understanding where your food comes from, I once heard a story (I can't recall the source) where a man overheard a woman complaining about ordering chicken in a restaurant and was repulsed by the fact that it was bone-in!

    What about those people who are so addicted to their electronic gadgets that they would literally die without them? The only one I'm addicted to (and mostly have to use for work) is my laptop. But the people who have their cell phones glued to their ears and have an iPod, and another miscellaneous device handy at all times truly baffles me! People are so busy trying to keep up with the Joneses, they are missing out on their own lives.

    I also homeschool, so I always love your topics that relate in some way to children and schooling. I used to work for an online public school and one thing I found kind of find "funny" were the parents who would scramble in August or September to find alternative methods of school (i.e. homeschooling, online, private) for their children. It was like they just realized that little Johnny turned 5 and would be expected to attend the local public school. Since they knew the horrors of public school they now felt they needed to find an alternative. So they go into a mad and frantic dash asking all sorts of questions (or not knowing what questions to ask) and fearing the worst. I planned my son's Kindergarten year of homeschooling for 1 1/2 years prior to his first "official" day of homeschool. Geez parents, use a little foresight will ya!

    Sorry for the rant! Hope this gives you a couple of ideas for articles.

    Andrea S

  13. Penny, the grocery store meat comes out of the trucks that park at the back of the store. Don't you know ANYthing?!

    Bill Smith

  14. I like old tools. Not to hang on the wall and worship, but to USE.

    One of my favorite big 1 1/2" chisels came to me as a lump of rust found under a barn in a New York City suburbia. What a beautiful piece of steel was hidden under all that rust. The edge is polished to a mirror finish, and it can shave a piece of copier paper into layers. It's easily 150 years old.

    I also use old auger bits with wooden T handles. By the time I could haul out my 1/2" Milwaukee drill motor, chuck in the bit, and run the extension cord I have already drilled the 1 1/2" or 2" hole I need by hand.

    I laugh when I see people struggling with their weed whackers in high grass. A scythe works nicely, and is good exercise.

    Bill Smith

  15. I was raised a country girl and my first experience with a real 'city person' was when I was about 19 and I had to clarify to my manager where food came from. She'd go through this list she had in her head..."berries grow on bushes, tomatoes and cantaloupes grow on vines, watermelon, apples, and oranges grow on trees......". I just told her she didn't want to be under the tree when the watermelons were getting ripe :)

  16. Well, I'm seeing lots of great quotes and excerpt material here based on the many wonderful and insightful comments this thread's drawing, and I'm getting an idea for a title here..."Food, Fiber and Foolish Fantasies."

    Bill Smith, you're a man after me own heart, ya are. And probably a quiet worker. too! lol

    Andrea, your stuff's a hoot! I love it. I'll never forget to always look up when walking thru the watermelon orchard. lololol

    And Hamyheadmp, your wonderful idea is one I've longed for years to be able to make happen. In our case we talk about wishing we had all the wild food and medicinal plant knowledge our Cherokee grandparents had and lived long healthy lives by. It would be a huge blessing to us, but just as importantly, it would honor them and connect us to them in so many ways.

    This is a great thread, Patrice. Thank you for 'unspooling' it!

    A. McSp

    A. McSp

  17. I wonder what it would take to do a poll or survey. It would be interesting to send some to NY or LA and find out a few things...
    What boardgames do you own?
    Do you have a deck of cards?
    How many pounds of food are wasted to produce one pound of organic food?
    What is your most common family discussion over dinner?
    What keeps free-range chicken from being eaten by bobcats?
    How much did you pay for your stove? How often is it used?

    You get the idea. I wanna poll some city folks!

  18. What about manure? I live in the city but have also lived in the country. Today a big truck (full tractor trailer) passed by. It had the words "completely organic fertilizer" written on the side and smelled like, you probably guessed it, a truck full of cow manure. Everyone else was wrinkling their nose and covering their mouth but just thought, "smells like spring".

  19. Knots. Rope.

    City people are helpless when they have to do anything beyond tie their shoes. I see all kinds of gadgets for sale in camping stores that are meant to do what any Boy Scout or Girl Scout of 50 years ago could do in a few seconds -- like adjust tent guy lines. No need for a metal gadget!

    And city people all SWEAR by the Square Knot, which is both notoriously insecure, AND insanely difficult to untie when you DO want it to come undone. The Bowline is clearly superior. It can take incredible strain, and yet a child can untie it. And it will not untie itself when snagged the way the Square Knot will.

    Need to tie a load to the roof of your car, or a wagon? You had better know the Trucker's Hitch, a hitch that uses mechanical advantage, just like a pulley! But you don't need some store-bought ratchety thing. Just rope.

    Need to tie an easily untied, yet secure loop in the middle of a rope when you can't get to either end of the rope? We can do that one, too.

    Need to keep a coil of rope neat, and ready to use, but you can still toss it to someone? Two ways to do that.

    Need to tie a sack closed securely? There's an easy, good way. Need a temporary tourniquet? Same knot.

    Need to tie down a piece of equipment in a blow? Use the quick release, totally secure knot bush pilots use.

    Need to tie a rope to a rope that is stretched tight as a bar of steel in order to take the strain off one end of it? A old sailor's knot will do it.

    Bill Smith

  20. About scythes:

    Bill Smith

  21. How about some thoughts on your first missteps (assuming you had any) in becoming a country girl? Anything you can laugh about now that you'd like to share that might help some those of us who may be contemplating the same fate?

  22. Ok, just found this jewel. This should provide hours of amusement to us rural types (and enough ideas that you will be writing columns for a very long time).

    As a proponent of English as the official language in the US (I live in a southern border state where official state forms are English / Spanish); I must say this Urban Dictionary makes me wonder where English has gone! Perhaps the "tudor" can help them!

    Love the blog! Keep up the good work!

    Diane in TX