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Share your Rural Wisdom

 
pollinator
Posts: 243
Location: Dry mountains Eastern WA
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Were we always this smart?  Heck no.....

Those of us that live in the country on farms, ranches and homesteads suffered through a lot of hard lessons before we became the fountains of rural wisdom that we are!  Let’s share that wisdom....

The rule is it can be any great knowledge you have acquired through hard knocks on the home place...no “ GrAndpa taught me”: but instead something you learned through experience.  


Here’s mine!

When we first moved onto our place I admired a neighbor down the road for his green and lush pastures!  He had horses, cows and assorted sheep-like critters!  His pastures looked like a well maintained 200 acre lawn!  I kept watching and over the years I learned to follow his lead.  In the spring he harrowed...so I harrowed.  When he rotated his pastures..I rotated mine.  When he put out his irrigation lines I started using a pump and sprinklers.  And on and on.  My lesson was....to pick out that person who I really admired as a rancher and do what he did until I could do it on my own!

Any of the rest of you learn any lessons you can share?
 
master gardener
Posts: 2801
Location: southern Illinois.
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Sometimes the really important lesson is what not to do.  I worked with an older gentleman who had a 160 acre dairy farm he had owned for decades. It did not make him rich, but it did pay the bills ....along with his side job. One day we were having lunch and a person much younger  than me walked in.  He commented there was no way he could pay the bills. He was filing bankruptcy. The old timer I was with invited him over to our table.  The kid told his story; he was renting 500 acres of farmland. Somehow, he was purchasing,  on credit, a new truck, a new tractor, a new combine, etc.  

When me and the old timer got back inside his 20 year old pickup, he turned to me and said, "Can you believe it?"
 
pollinator
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"Don't take advice from someone who thinks it's funny when you fail."

Not saying how long it took me to figure that one out.
 
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I grew up in the 50's in Ky. We got electricity when I was 12 and our equipment was a team of mules, a single bottom plow and assorted hand tools. We cut all our fire wood with ax or crosscut saw and used a dogwood wedge. We raised and slaughtered all our meat. I never tasted ham until I was older. We sold all the sugar cured hams to the rich city people and ate the shoulders and middlings.. The bartered eggs and chickens for salt, coffee, sugar, flour at the grocery. Our entertainment was popping popcorn on pot bellied stove with generous topping of homemade butter and salt.We parched field corn in cast iron skillet in some lard, in the winter peanuts were baked in the old cookstove. Sweet potatoes were always in the oven that we kept rubbing butter or lard on to keep them soft. Pinto beans were bought in 25 lb bags and was always on stove with some hog jaw in it. Our entertaiment also  was pet flying squirrels, gray or fox squirrels that we found out in the woods as babies and
occasionally we would catch a baby raccoon.My dad could descent baby shunks and they made good pets. It was a hard life but everyone else was in the same boat so we survived. I must have crawled 50 miles on my knees in a burley tobacco patch priming the bottom leaves(they are the most valuable) I always got the top tier in the tobacco barn because I was the smallest just under the hot tin roof on a 95 degree day. I couldn't wait to leave the farm and said I would never farm again.  Then 15 yrs later my wife and I had saved enough to purchase property and some equipment and my adventure has continued another 50 yrs.
 
Janet Reed
pollinator
Posts: 243
Location: Dry mountains Eastern WA
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Owen Rogers wrote:I grew up in the 50's in Ky. We got electricity when I was 12 and our equipment was a team of mules, a single bottom plow and assorted hand tools. We cut all our fire wood with ax or crosscut saw and used a dogwood wedge. We raised and slaughtered all our meat. I never tasted ham until I was older. We sold all the sugar cured hams to the rich city people and ate the shoulders and middlings.. The bartered eggs and chickens for salt, coffee, sugar, flour at the grocery. Our entertainment was popping popcorn on pot bellied stove with generous topping of homemade butter and salt.We parched field corn in cast iron skillet in some lard, in the winter peanuts were baked in the old cookstove. Sweet potatoes were always in the oven that we kept rubbing butter or lard on to keep them soft. Pinto beans were bought in 25 lb bags and was always on stove with some hog jaw in it. Our entertaiment also  was pet flying squirrels, gray or fox squirrels that we found out in the woods as babies and
occasionally we would catch a baby raccoon.My dad could descent baby shunks and they made good pets. It was a hard life but everyone else was in the same boat so we survived. I must have crawled 50 miles on my knees in a burley tobacco patch priming the bottom leaves(they are the most valuable) I always got the top tier in the tobacco barn because I was the smallest just under the hot tin roof on a 95 degree day. I couldn't wait to leave the farm and said I would never farm again.  Then 15 yrs later my wife and I had saved enough to purchase property and some equipment and my adventure has continued another 50 yrs.

 
Janet Reed
pollinator
Posts: 243
Location: Dry mountains Eastern WA
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Oops....how lovely
 
Posts: 82
Location: S. New England
25
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If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
 
master gardener
Posts: 2608
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Be a benevolent opportunist - if something is growing wild on your land (or was planted there, before you got there) take what you need of it, but be sure to leave the rest for the wildlife that has been depending on it. If you don't, they'll leave, and sometimes much of what you loved about your place will wither and die. I wasn't given a choice - it was a rental. The county took out the huge bank of lilacs, along the road, which not only took away much of our privacy and sound barrier, it also took out the habitat of much of the wildlife on the 5.5acre parcel. The critters who lived in there left, and the flowers, trees, shrubs, and my formerly prolific garden all suffered for it.
 
Janet Reed
pollinator
Posts: 243
Location: Dry mountains Eastern WA
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Carla Burke wrote:Be a benevolent opportunist - if something is growing wild on your land (or was planted there, begotten you got there) take what you need of it, but be sure to leave the rest for the wildlife that has been depending on it. If you don't, they'll leave, and sometimes much of what you loved about your place will wither and die. I want given a choice - it was a rental. The county took out the huge bank of lilacs, along the road, which not only took away much of our privacy and sound barrier, it also took out the habitat of much of the wildlife on the 5.5acre parcel. The critters who lived in there left, and the flowers, trees, shrubs, and my formerly prolific garden all suffered for it.



Carla.....so very sorry...a good lesson for us to remember.
 
Carla Burke
master gardener
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Janet Reed wrote:

Carla.....so very sorry...a good lesson for us to remember.


Thank you. That was almost 30 years ago, but it definitely taught me the difference between merely using the land, and taking honest stewardship of it. We are working hard to be good stewards of the land we've purchased, and are very careful to protect, as much as possible, the habitats and wildlife - large and small - that we encounter on it.
 
pollinator
Posts: 183
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
74
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I stole this from an old issue of Backwoods Magazine:

If your neighbor is chasing you down while wielding a bloody hatchet, don't panic! He might have just harvested a deer and would like to share it with you. :)

Funny way to say that appearances are deceiving.
 
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My dad would disk everywhere he could across every piece of property he had "to keep the weeds down".
After I was thirty years old I mentioned that everywhere he didn't disk had native grasses and almost no weeds, and was much easier to walk on than the turned earth.
He looked at me as if I had grown a new head, and told me the lessons his father had told him.
When I was thirty five I snuck a bag of grass seed into an orchard he had recently plowed and when it came in the next year finally got him to not disk the orchard, as the furrows made setting the ladders  unstable.
Even after the orchard grass became luxuriant he continued to disk the rest of the property until he was no longer able to.

Faith can move mountains.....of cash into bad ideas.
 
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Never come home with less than 1/4 tank of gas... Gas stations aren't open all night or some aren't open on Sundays...
 
John F Dean
master gardener
Posts: 2801
Location: southern Illinois.
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Sheri makes a good point. Early on in my homesteading experience  I learned to keep enough gas on hand to fill up my car tank.  Having extra fuel saved me numerous trips to town.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2554
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
418
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When I first started out I ran all of my ideas by a farmer friend of ours. He was self made, didn't inherit any of the land he was farming. He was successful without oil. He knew what he was doing. He listened. He said he'd love it if my ideas work but thought they were all very wild, fanciful ideas.

I thought he was just a stodgy traditional farmer that didn't understand my vision. Turns out he simply knew the area and conditions and was wiser than I. If only I'd listened I could have saved a lot of money.

I'm still not listening. Still failing.

So pick a wise mentor and then actually listen to what they say.
 
Posts: 118
Location: King William, VA
19
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Keep your political views to yourself when talking to your neighbors if you don't know them very well.  You might need their help some day!
 
John F Dean
master gardener
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Location: southern Illinois.
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Hi Joshua

Reminds me of my aunts advice, "Never discuss sex, politics, or religion."
 
pollinator
Posts: 582
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Never be afraid to question the status quo...

So many times I have been told "you can't...", and yet when asked WHY there is no answer beyond "that's the way it is done".

Don't be afraid to do something differently, if it "makes sense" to you. In my experience, humans generally choose to NOT be innovative, use their common sense, or "think outside the box". Often, taking the time to look at something through a new lens allows for remarkable improvement or alternative usage for something that would otherwise have been considered junk.

Instead of seeking something specific, instead look for something that can be adapted.

Of late I have driven myself nuts trying to find/buy a "track" so I can have sliding/bypassing screens all around the deck (to keep bugs/weather out; animals in). Seems I am the ONLY person in the entire world who wants their screens to easily slide out of the way. I popped in to ReStore, had a poke around, and found ten, 6+ foot pieces of metal channel/trough that will suit my purpose perfectly - no clue what this stuff is supposed to be used for, no idea why there is exactly the amount I need - all because I "let go" of a specific definition and focused on the "purpose".

 
Posts: 470
Location: St. George, UT. Zone 8a Dry/arid. 8" of rain in a good year.
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This isn't necessarily rural wisdom, especially because I've lived in cities my whole life, but I think it's worth mentioning.

Copy people you perceive as being wise (much like was said in the first post).  Ignore people who tell you they are smart, particularly when they tell you how to do things they've never done themselves.  Listen to people who tell you they are dumb (if nothing else, they'll be honest with you).  

I am not smart, I copy people who have had success.  I feel as though I have been successful through copying those people.  

I cringe when someone tells me how smart they are.  Smart people don't have to tell you that, they'll just show it to you.

If you're into old timey sounding (but modern made) country music, I think this little ditty hits the nail on the head for "rural wisdom".  



here's a quick rundown of the rural wisdom in that song,


never put you hat on the bed,
never throw a match when it's dry,
always keep an edge on your knife,
never sell the old .22, (but aim it to the left a little low)
always tip the glass when you pour,
be sure to put your horse away dry,
be sure to thaw the bit when it's cold,
never judge a man by his clothes,
and always keep a sharp edge on that knife......

 
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