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Loneliness of country living  RSS feed

 
                    
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As a kind of recent city transplant, I must say I miss certain things about cities.  The main one being the close proximity of friends.  If I want to have a face to face conversation I'd have to ride my bike three miles to the neighbor's, and she's got a brand new infant to nurse and probably wants her space.  There is so much to do living out in the country, that I see social lives getting pushed aside for the need to finish projects before snow flies, and then before the snow melts, and then.... 

On the other hand, there are other ways of communicating with people even with huge geographic distances.  Like.....this forum!  Any other ideas for coping with less human interaction? 

A big part of the reason I decided to move away from an urban environment was because I felt that I was spending too much of my time on socializing and entertainment.  Wanted to focus, to get stuff done, to make a difference, blah blah.  So now I spend virtually no time socializing or entertaining myself (uh, well until we got high speed a month ago  ), and sometimes I just wish I could go sit on my best friend's couch for an hour and share a pot of tea, like we used to (we had 'dates' on friday nights, many of them involved pots of tea).  I wish I had a close female friend in my new location, but there seems to be little time to form bonds like this when there's wood to chop, seeds to plant, kids to feed, dishes to clean, never ends. 

Is this just the human condition?  Never satisfied?  Is it part of growing up into a "real adult"? (I'm so young that I'm still kind of faking being grown up)  Is there a point in life when you need less personal interaction on a daily basis?  I suspect culturally we have a too large an emphasis (obsession?) on human to human interaction....but who really wants to actually be a hermit?  Not me! 

How do you live in the country, get all your stuff done, and have friends too?  I've kind of tried "work parties"....but the modern american can't seem to fathom the idea that working could be fun.  Partying and working seem to be exclusive activities, and boy, I really wish I could change that idea.  People used to have parties after getting huge jobs done - you know, like raise a barn and then have a ho down on the new barn floor.  Anyone have a positive experience with a modern day work party? 
 
                    
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And with that pity party expressed, I will now take a walk over to my neighbors with my doggie, cause I'm needing people. 
 
Irene Kightley
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I've had this problem too, especially finding women friends.

Many of the women of my age where I live are great neighbours but they're surrounded by family and grandchildren and don't feel the need for the kind of fun I crave.

I was a prof in an agricultural college for a few years and most of our impromptu parties and visits come from ex-students and their friends who live nearby or come to stay - sometimes for weeks at a time in the summer and we have woofers who stay too but the winter months are long with few visits.

To find friends of  roughly my own age and interests I use the internet. About six years ago a bunch of us "Chicks in the Sticks" created a private forum and we chat daily, work together and meet up from time to time. I've just come back from a "Henfest" - 13 of us in a huge house we rented for four days - and I'm rejuvenated, excited about new ideas and full of enthusiasm for the coming year. 
 
Jami McBride
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That's great your going to visit your neighbor, I bet she well welcome the adult time just as much if not more than you!

I too find this 'need' not met and I live in the city. 

I have many friends, but no one with the time to really sit and chat, nor just hang out unless it's scheduled, everyone is much to busy.  This does change in the summer as my backyard is a bit of a show place/animal park and I have people over to eat and watch the critters pass by.  I encourage everyone to stop by when they are near, use my bathroom or whatever, but even this doesn't happen in the colder months.  There are the usual scheduled events, which you do not have living out as you do, but they are not very satisfying on a personal level.  For instance, 22 of us homeschoolers will be heading to the snow for a tubing day next week, and it will be lots of fun, but not personal - a lot of 'hows the weather' talk.....

Yes, some people seem to slow down in their need for social activities as they age, or they get their fix from their own family and in large groups such as church.  But since I've been raising my children - full time homeschooling and all, I no longer have those close intimate friendships (buddies, girl friends) and I really miss them....sigh 

Ha!  The Chicks in the Sticks sounds like fun....  Maybe you can share some of the ideas or inspiration you received here?



 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Marina, your neighbor with the newborn will probably be very happy to see you!  (Unless she's worn out from baby being up all night -- if she seems less than pleased to have a visitor, ask how well baby is sleeping!)  Moms with babies are often tied down and feeling more alone than you are. 

I live with two other people, both adults, and still crave adult human conversation sometimes -- even though I'm pretty much a stay-at-home introvert.  You can't really hold a conversation with my autistic daughter -- she does talk, but it's seldom anything even approaching a conversation (and when she does approach the level of conversation, I make sure to pay attention to what she's saying and encourage her!). 

You'd think that it would be easier to hold a conversation with Grandma, but whenever I start to introduce a subject she goes off on a tangent about something that happened decades ago, LOL!  What she has to say is often quite interesting (although after living with her for almost seven years, I've heard most of her stories quite a few times!), but it would be nice to have someone to talk to about things that are of interest in the present!  I do have a part-time job with a very nice boss; we have a lot in common, but she's younger than my youngest daughter and there IS a generation gap, LOL! 

I guess that's why I spend as much time on the internet as I do, to have some real conversations, even if not face-to-face.

Kathleen
 
                    
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Thank you so much for the empathy, ladies!  I did find some female company down the road (neighbor and her five year old daughter - different lady than the one I thought I'd go see) and it was nice.  Not exactly the cozy comfortable friendship that I miss, but refreshing to have another feminine perspective nonetheless.  And it got me out of the house for a bit.  Nothing cures everything like a brisk walk/bike ride. 

the winter months are long with few visits


Aren't they though?  My partner leaves for just one day and I'm suddenly all feelin sorry for myself, sort of.  I have no children, so I can start to feel quite alone when he's gone.  We're going to have interns this summer, and I really want to find some other people to live here permanently, eventually.  I'm realizing more and more how important that is to me.  I'll have to talk my partner into thinking it's a good idea though.  And I am. 

Kathleen - I generally enjoy talking with older people.  I started stopping in on my 92 year old neighbor around this time last year, and we really enjoy our visits (come to think of it, I'm due to stop by, but she's further and the other way down the road).  There is a generational difference, obviously, but I just love her stories from around here.  I don't spend enough time with her to learn all the stories though! 

Irene: Chicks in the Sticks!  That's great!  I agree the internet can be a great way of finding peers that aren't near by.  The Henfest sounds so fun!  But also nourishing and rejuvenating, like you said.  How did you find these women to begin with, if you don't mind me asking? 

My friends and neighbors have children, so I can see that there's a social network built around their kids, but I've kind of suspected what Jami said - the interactions aren't for the adults.  Is there any way to change that?  Make the activities more inclusive of adults somehow?  Or what if two or three parents volunteered to keep the kids occupied and everyone else had time to do something for themselves?  Do you really even want to be friends with the parents of your children's friends?  I mean, just because someone is available doesn't mean you want to hang out with them....

I'm not the kind of person who needs to have a hundred friends.  I like to spend time alone - if I didn't I probably would have gone crazy last winter, without even electricity for company.  But every once in awhile, the pure pleasure of conversation between people who know each other really well...nothing like it.  I treasure the friendships I've had, and hope to make the best of what I have now.  If only that girl I used to sit on the couch with was better at calling back. 
 
Leah Sattler
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its not a pity party its real justifiable feelings and difficulties!

I love the chicks in the sticks idea! I would also be interested in how you organized it.

I am also rather introverted and had few friends even while living in close proximity to a decent size city that I grew up in. but I often crave some kind of activity with adults. my dh and I were talking last nite a bit about this. we concluded (only half jokingly)that it seems that the only women that are around here have little to talk about other then church or they are sitting in front of wal mart cussing at their kids and smoking.  I know there are women out there "like me" to a larger extent but finding them is proving rather difficult!

I have been trying to find other homeschoolers in the area to get together with. there are several groups. but, all but one have major philosphy differences to the point that I couldn't even join since I am not willing to sign my soul over to their religion (literally have to sign a a statement in some cases!) I really just don't want to approach the subject in person with anyone but it is a huge part of many peoples lives and a difficult subject to skirt around. I just want a place for my daughter to have friends and to discuss academic ideas/homeschooling etc...... is that so hard?  

the one group I have been trying to get involved in that thankfully, from my perspective, doesn't feel the need to impose religion on me, doesnt' seem to have much going on. I was the only one who didn't cancel out of the last 'get together' and I still haven't actually met anyone from it.

even at that I know that the activities must be centered around the children and I am not that likely to find someone I have much in common with. but just finding some people that I can have an intelligent conversation with in person while kids play would be better then nothing. 
 
paul wheaton
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If there is a person on the planet that wants company it's a nursing woman.  My impression is that they have 30 minutes of boredom and are just dying for an adult conversation. 

When I first got to the mt. spokane farm, I had a potluck and invited all of the folks on the road.  The road was 3.5 miles and there were about 60 families.  I drove up the road and wrote down all of the addresses.  I then sent all of them a letter inviting them.  Instant community. 

When I was in seattle, I immediatly found a long list of interesting workshops and instantly knew so many people I had to turn a lot of social events down. 

I did a thing for a while where I had pancakes on saturdays - quite a houseful every saturday. 

Workparties:  I can't stand going to work parties anymore.  Whatever they are doing, they are doing it contrary to my philosophies and I just cannot bear to see so much human effort wasted.

 
Fred Morgan
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Start a business with about 40 workers, I assure you, you will want the loneliness! TGIF - it isn't only applicable to workers!!!

We live in the middle of no where, but really, we have so many people around during the week, we are more than happy to be hermits at the end of the week.
 
Jennifer Smith
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I am on my 3rd housemate since buying this place, last summer.
 
Jami McBride
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To a degree Paul is right.  My being person who is satisfied and content to do my own thing (not introverted per say) means I don't tend to be a group-starter myself so I can relate to what's being said here. 

This initiating of gatherings (as Paul does) will bring one in contact with several people thereby increasing the odds that one would find a friend out of the bunch and start a more personal relationship.  However, it isn't always possible for everyone.

A couple of things I believe -
(1) As people pair up, have kids and such it just becomes easier to socialize with those we already have on our schedule. It's just more efficient, taking less time and energy, so we slip into it by default and not by a conscious decision. 

With some effort and encouragement we can get ourselves and others to socialize outside of their small circles.  Sometimes just discussing it like we are doing here.  Sometimes just by letting others know we would like more personal socializing.

(2) It's a numbers game - As Leah mentioned we won't feel drawn to everyone, or want a closer relationship with just anyone.  There is an attraction for personality types that leads to friendships just as there is for romantic relationships.  So if we can be exposed to groups of people we are more likely to find someone we can share, trust and bond with forming a close friendship.

Regarding homeschool or other groups - you may have to form your own..... plan outings, field trips and such, and then post these on as many other groups as you can, skipping the sign-up only ones of course.  I know other moms would appreciate your efforts, maybe not those trying to be exclusive, but those trying to provide more opportunities for their kids will.  I will say it's not easy - we could start a whole other thread on this subject alone.

I know what your saying Fred, when I was teaching and dealing with the university bureaucracy all I wanted was alone time - ha ha ha.... 


 
                    
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I have less than 200 people to choose from in the immediately drive-able/bike-able area (10 miles in all directions).  It both limits my options for choosing activities and for participants in activities that I initiate.  I offer a community yoga session for free at the school's library two nights a week.  No one's showed up as of yet, even with my little hand drawn poster on the front of our only store and regular verbal invitations from myself to people who verbally claim to be interested.  I'm not saying no one ever will show up, it's just a very different environment than say, Seattle, where a free space to practice yoga (or whatever) would probably have a wider interest simply due to a bigger population to draw from. 

I knew what I was getting into, moving here, and now here I am.  I'm not suffering so much that I'm going to leave.  I'm just missing old pals. 

I must say I'm hopeful for a more lively community here in the future.  Younger people have been moving here in the last few years, people who are even interested in permaculture  There aren't many of us, but there are people in the area who want to get together for things like potlucks.  I had a nice group of people over for a deer roast in the autumn...

Many people out here want to be left alone, at least by my (as the vaguely strange and seriously young new comer) attempts at friendship.  Many people live away from other people because they truly are introverts.  Or alcoholics.   

My partner and I have been talking all day about other families living on our land....!  He's coming around, just wants to do it in a way that works for everyone involved. 
 
Irene Kightley
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Marina,

We had a friend live on our land for 11. He died a couple of years ago and I miss him so much as he really was an exceptional man and his visiting friends were a delight too. 

I'd like to find someone else, or a couple but we're waiting for the right people.

When I posted about the group I belong to you asked.
How did you find these women to begin with, if you don't mind me asking?


I found them from forums like this one.
 
Leah Sattler
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gulp. partially due to this thread and realizing I needed to be more proactive I volunteered to host a get together through the homeschool organization I was trying to participate in. sometime in march or april (after baby) I will be hosting lunch and we are all going to make sundials as a project. this is rather unlike me...... my hands are sweating just thinking about it 
 
                    
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Irene - so sorry for the loss of your live-in friend.  I'm sure you'll attract the right people or person to your household again.  It does seem to be true that more people around attract more people to be around. 

We've decided not to really "try" to find people, rather build the farm and trust that the right people will be attracted to the project.  We're more interested in partners than employees.  And, again, we don't really have enough of a population here to hand pick hired help.  There are maybe two 19 year old boys available to work, and other people already have a monopoly of their time.  Commuting here from somewhere isn't really an option.  So we're left with live in interns or live in full timers as a source of regular help here. 

Leah- that's awesome!  And yes it can be nerve wracking to invite a group of stranger into your home, but I doubt you'll regret it. 

We plan to homeschool (the public elementary school I mentioned has barely enough children (eleven kids, I think) attending to warrant staying open right now), but we don't plan to have kids for another five years at the least.  Need to have a better house to live in first!  And we want to be waaay more secure nutritionally than we are right now. 

Hopefully by the time our children are school age, the permacultury people I mentioned will LIVE here (they're still coming and going in the process of setting things up to stay here, committing to live out here full time is, well, a big commitment) and all of our kids can learn together with some sort of amazing holistic community education in which all the parents participate. 

Regarding homeschool or other groups - you may have to form your own..... plan outings, field trips and such, and then post these on as many other groups as you can, skipping the sign-up only ones of course.  I know other moms would appreciate your efforts, maybe not those trying to be exclusive, but those trying to provide more opportunities for their kids will.  I will say it's not easy - we could start a whole other thread on this subject alone.

Jami- I think you should make that thread!
 
Jennifer Smith
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Leah Sattler wrote:
I volunteered to host a get together ... this is rather unlike me...... my hands are sweating just thinking about it 

I know nothing of home schooling but can relate to inviting strangers, soon to be friends, into your home.  I have anxieties about such things.  Have fun with it!
 
Gwen Lynn
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Ever since this thread was started, I've given a lot of thought to it. Couldn't decide to add to it or not. Well, here goes. The title of this thread is loneliness of country living, but it is just as easy to be lonely in the city or suburb.

I'll be 50 this year. My husband & I have lived in this area for almost 24 years. In 1988 I had the good fortune to meet a couple with whom I had many shared interests. They managed the riding stable where I was working and we had a wonderful work & play together relationship for 6 years. As a team, we were a well oiled machine. We all worked hard together, and it was a joy to be together.  In an average (7 day) week, we probably spent 40 - 60 hours together, if there was a horseshow. On our day off we'd all do something together have dinner, go for a hike, go to movies, etc. It was perfect in every way. Unfortunately good things come to an end & they moved south to the Dallas-Ft. Worth Area. I think I grieved for a whole year after they left. I was heartbroken. Our relationship was a one in a million friendship, never to be duplicated again. Of course we are in contact with each other from time to time, but it's not the same thing.

I had another friend, our relationship was pretty much based on getting together for weekend drinking sessions. Partying, as we liked to call it. This relationship continued on like this for many years, until the early part of this decade. I just got to the point in my life where I would rather not watch certain people get drunk and obnoxious anymore. This was mostly due to the fact that I was drinking much less and it became a fairly sober me, sitting around watching everybody else get drunk off their asses and I really didn't like that. So I slowly began to extricate myself from these people. At around the same time, virtually all of our local friends (with the exception of one couple) were having major marital problems and divorcing. We know of 10 couples that we used to associate with that have divorced in the last 6 years. It totally changes your outlook on socializing. Period!

The glimmer of hope that came to me during all of our friends marital problems was a new friend, much younger than me. I never would have thought this person could affect my life the way she did, but it happened, and for this I am truly grateful.

But of course, there is a down side. This close friend moved away in the spring. Even though it's only about a 2.5 hour drive, the separation affects the relationship. There's just no way it couldn't. You just can't pop over for a quick smile and a glass of wine. It's definitely a trek. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but absence just makes your friends absent, and the relationship changes. There's no way around that.

So after it's all said and done, I'm afraid I've gotten to be a little jaded about friendship and pursuing new friends. People are people and some people have problems. We spent the last decade being deluged by our friends and their break ups and their rebound hook ups with other people who just make us go ewwwww.

I have become less & less inclined to drink and find that when I do get together with the group that goes to listen to my husband's band, I end up being the most sober person in the room, watching everybody get plowed. Watching drunks is not much fun when you are sober.

Right now I have more acquaintances than true friends. I have no friends to take walks with, go to a museum or on a hike, etc. I have people I can socialize with, but that's not the same thing. I do have a husband, but he's not really like a girlfriend! I have thought about finding a new friend, but that scenario has reared up and bit me in the ass more than once. I'm not too keen on taking another chance just yet.

Some of these friends are neighbors who are still dealing with problems from their divorces. I honestly am tired of being a free divorce counselor, and lately have really wished for more land between me and my neighbors. Don't know if I'll get to make that dream come true. At the rate we're going, we'll probably be to old to enjoy it. Oh well.
 
Jennifer Smith
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My closest (to a) friend changes from day to day.  One day it is Paul, one day it is Brenda, one day it can be Gwen...you may notice they are all computer friends. 

Some of my computer friends I have even met in person.  But as you say Gwen, if we have to travel to see each other, we are less likely to. 

I did not get close to either of the house-mates I have had here, we were friendly but I don't make many 'connections',  Maybe that is why they left??  Maybe they were lonely. 

I have my husband and my horses.  I am happy.
 
                    
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It's interesting you brought up the drinking thing, Gwen.  That was a big part of coming to my decision to leave the city.  My friends were great, but many of them seemed to be most interested in how drunk they could get at the end of the day/week (usually day).  And I felt that there were better ways to spend my time.

I stopped drinking entirely for a summer when I was 22, and yup, it changes your social life quite a bit.  I went to parties at first, and you're right, watching people get trashed isn't really that fun.  I quickly learned to not tell drunk people I was refraining.  This is how the conversation would go: 

Them: "want a drink?"

Me: na, I'm taking a break from alcohol for awhile, but thanks.

Them: "Why?  You don't have a drinking problem!"

Me: uh, well I just wanted to try it and see how -

Them: "Man, I should do that.  I mean, I don't have a drinking problem.  But a break is probably good for you.  Yeah....I mean, I don't have a drinking problem....."

Me: *thinking* was I talking about your drinking problem?  Sigh....
 
Jennifer Smith
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No wonder I never got the social thing...I never was much of a drinker.

The friends I have had who did drink and smoke pot, I would rather be around them high than drunk.  I saw my childhood friends change right before my eyes into someone/something I did not know to hard drugs.

I like my friends on the internet now.  I can listen to, relate to, and offer support to, my friends as needed, but can also not turn my machine on.  When I need advise you all are here for me.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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What a great thread. I should be working, but I'm compelled to reply.

When I was home (mostly full time) with my kids 10-15 years ago, even back then, it was largely retired folks who were home during the day in my suburban neighborhood. I was broke, nursing my youngest, bored/consumed with the never-ending household tasks and lonely.

Like you, Marina, I dreamt of a modern version of women going to the river together to wash their clothes. I never could get anyone to do more than take a walk or go to play group with me though.

Now, I'm struggling to find new friends who better fit my values and lifestyle, and have yet to find a truly good girlfriend nearby where we share deeply about our selves and our lives.

There was a study at Berkeley about how women need to "tend and befriend" for their health, instead the "fight or flight" response to stress which was previously thought to be for both genders but is now seen more as a male response. That's why women want to talk about their problems--it makes their physical stress symptoms go down--while men want to fix them or get away from them--because men's stress symptoms can increase from talking about it.

So, I'm flipping between my desire for healthy, like-minded friendships, and the knowledge that a large portion of folks are rather cantankerous or narcissistic (ala the movies Gran Torino or About a Boy) and that community and friendships are sometimes valuable even with the crazies in our world.

I'm getting involved, slowly with groups and activities where the values are akin to mine - some at my UU church which holds dear a lot of sustainability values - and as I go, it's a bit rocky in that I'm finding folks with whom I thought I'd love to hang out with have ahem! "issues" that concern me. You know, drinking or other recreational substances that I'm just not into, so I completely understand all the comments in this thread. And I know I'm not perfect and have my own issues, so I know I can't write people off and be a hermit, either.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Wait. How 'bout ideas, kind of like Paul's list of what worked for him? You might have things centered around kids, or with folks who like to drink or are cantankerous, but just opening things up can make a shift...it might not happen at the event, but maybe something will come together after that....

The sustainability or permaculture groups are great, though in rural areas like Marina's they just might not be there.

Church groups are another option - even if you're not religious - because they are long-standing community groups.

Potlucks.

Canning parties.

Craft parties, like Leah is hosting.
(Someone at my church hosted a craft party to encourage folks to make things for the holidays instead of buying things--far better than a cookie exchange if you ask me! And she's hosting a lantern making party this month, too.)

Tree city party--my sister hosted a potluck for her L.A. suburban block to sign up for free trees (forgot the exact program name).

Seed exchanges.

Movie or game nights.

What else can folks come up with?

 
Jennifer Smith
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I sometimes run an ad on craigslist..."WTT horse back riding/lessons for goods or services"

So far lots of talkers but few takers.
 
Jami McBride
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It's great to remember to reach out to those we don't identify with normally as you have done Marina with your older lady friend.

I find it very hard to make close friends as all my acquaintances are married.  There is some kind of barrier between those matted and those not that I can't put into words.  But when I didn't have kids and would run into single gals making good 'friends' was much easier.  It has felt almost impossible running in the groups I do now because everyone is married. 

When I worked, I was great friends with a few of the girls in our department.  We were tight at work and girl outings, but they would never include me with their husbands for say a dinner or group activity.  This was a real shock to me, as I never restricted people in areas of my life. 

So it is good to mingle, reach out to people in different stages than we are in life - who knows where a friend might be found.

Marina - were you saying I should start a homeschool thread, or something else?  I'm not sure what you were suggesting.


 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Jennifer Smith  "listenstohorses" wrote:
I sometimes run an ad on craigslist..."WTT horse back riding/lessons for goods or services"

So far lots of talkers but few takers.


Wish you were closer, as I'd take you up on that -- if you were willing to work with my autistic daughter, and willing to take eggs/goat milk in trade, or I could do sewing for you.... I'd like to get her into a therapeutic riding program, and so far there isn't one around here.  We don't have enough land to keep a horse, or I'd do it myself (I used to have horses, but it's been a long time ago, now).

Kathleen
 
                    
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Jami- Uhm, it seemed like several people here expressed a wish that their homeschooling activities designed to socialize children could be used to enhance their parents social lives as well?  I think a thread talking about how to go about doing that could be fun. 

I have more to say but we're actually cleaning and organizing the garage today..... back to work! 
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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I had to chuckle when reading the responses to the original post. Please don't take that wrong! )
  Living in central NM with ranchers and wanna be ranchers for neighbors with the big riggs and lots of acreage (much is badly overgrazed) I relish my time alone. No time to be lonely.
    Raised 4 kids, kept them fed.They are all gone or in college and now just do my own thing at 47. They still like my cooking though and it's a treat when they visit.
  My little farm of 25 acres is off the beaten track and started out as a bare pallet with nothing but a few tumbleweeds on it. Little by little it's changing.
  After 4 years the fruit and nut trees are beginning to produce and the corn is starting to do better every year. The goats are ready to kid soon and that means fresh milk, which means its time to pick up a couple of piglets for the freezer later on. That and loads of butter, cheese and yogurt to be made.
      All that whey will go to the pigs and chickens. By May all the ladies will have kidded and I'll be adding at least two calves. I buy them at least two weeks old from a reliable source.  Will continue my looking for a cow or two for milking rather than starting  heifers.
    With that said, this is what one woman does as she's found out here that women who build fences, milk, work the land, plant their own trees/bushes and gardens, build berms,mine rock for check dams, etc are looked down upon. I've been deemed a "hill billy".
    The kind of company you keep can make a lot of difference in whether you even want to talk to your neighbors. There are some I do as they have learned I do what is needed- its not gender specific.
    For me, its not a matter of loneliness. Its a matter of speaking/convesring with someone who can ask an intelligent question like the why behind so many apple trees.
    A neighbor finally got up the nerve to ask me that and when I told him for cider, vinegar, putting up and of course baking he actually got it. I was thrilled.
    With the exception of going to Chris Mellueli's fall permaculture get to together a few towns over there are few people I even want to speak with here. I help were can, go to the occasional conference, bartering/trading, and generally work my tail off. Seeing my place beautiful and fruitful is my goal. That and making sure the land and its residents never do without.
    If you're a people person, which sounds like you are you'll need the company of people. Your nursing neighbor will appreciate your visits, Paul was right about that. She likely will also turn out to be a trove of local information that you will find helpful. 
    Bartering or swapping services in another way to meet people and make friends. Church groups, gardening groups and local charitable organizations are other places to meet like minded people.
    Do you have a special talent you can share with your community? Do you make great baklava or have a knack for cherry pie? These items can be donated for local event auctions or entered into the county fair.
  Volunteer fire departments, sherriff posse's, search and rescue teams are other ways to meet and make friends.
    Read the local paper(s) and find out what's going on in your community. Cooperative Extension is also another useful way to meet people if the one in your area is active.

   
 
Jami McBride
gardener
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Location: PNW Oregon
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Scakya - you sound like an amazing person to me.  If I were your neighbor I'd be in awe of you.  As you wrote I pictured your place becoming fruitful.  Sounds like your at a very peaceful place in your life.

It must be true, we all decide, glass half full or half empty.
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Thank you Jami,
    Have much to learn yet, figure out and day by day, wheelbarrow by wheel barrow will get there.
Many Thanks again Jami
 
                    
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I'm sorry, scakya, but did you even read the responses I posted?  I said that there are fewer than 200 people in my area.  I did not say, but would like to add that there is not a single church, nary a county fair, or any other community sponsored social activities that I could simply join.  You have to make your own fun when you live at the end of a winding 17 mile road that does not 'go thru' to anywhere else.  I attempt to offer talents to the community: I offer two free yoga sessions a week, but only myself and my partner attend, even if some people tell me they're going to come nearly every week.  I regularly stop in on neighbors of all ages. 

I too am deeply involved and busy with (though not as much this time of the year) in the projects on my land.  The balance between all the work that has to be done on a homestead and developing connections with those around us is the central discussion point of this thread. 

I think you would be surprised at what people have to offer in the way of social interaction, knowledge, and just general human kindness if you can take off your work gloves long enough to start a simple conversation.  I've discovered in the last year and a half that people who aren't at all like you can be the most interesting company.  Try giving that guy you spoke with a bucket of apples and see how your relationship with him changes.  Don't be surprised if he suddenly offers to help you with some of the mountain of work there is to do.  The friendliness of your neighbors is directly related to your own willingness to be a good neighbor. 

That said, I'm still looking forward to the younger permie crowd moving to town.  When/if they do.  
 
Pat Maas
Posts: 194
Location: McIntosh, NM
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Hi Mariana,
      My road is only 7 miles long to where the farm is at. I've done many things in this community over the last 12 years years-from sustainable ag conferences which instructors came from all over the country for, handy classes in everything from drip irrigation to how to can and even a gardening newsletter. Had to fight tooth and nail for a farmer's market at a local town including changes to their zoning code.
      My other small farm where this all started was plagued with bad neigbors and their dogs. If it wasn't their dogs, it was loose livestock or guns being fires off at all hours of the day. You don't want to know what it's like when people are aiming fireworks in your direction when you're doing evening milking outside. These people had moved from  the"city".
      Kept trying to help and when a  project came up a few years ago to plant edible landscapes in a nearby town-at the mayor's invite- happily jumped in. I was then affronted with accusations of doing this for my own profit by a town councilor. At that moment-everything stopped.
    Yes, I read the prior information before posting. Here there are less than 100 people within a 10 mile radius. Town is 13 or 17 miles away and  don't go often. My life has become centered on the farm where have continued restorative work and sharing some things developed with others of like mind around the world.
    For me, just got tired of people who just couldn't get they needed to take care of their share of Earth and her residents.
      When my neighbors are stuck in someway-I do help or organize a "rescue". Or if someone is having a bad day, they find themselves with a home baked treat or fresh produce they like. That's about as far as I'll go until they figure out I don't want anything from them.
   
 
Joshua Chambers
Posts: 71
Location: the state of jefferson - zone 7
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Marina,

PLEASE don't give up on yoga, as schedules start to crystalize, I know some will start to arrive very soon! 

I am rather prone to loneliness, I think, which is one reason I'm drawn to living in a close-knit community, which though I don't quite have, it's coming closer.  All those permies ARE coming, and there's a few of us here already!  We should start doing regular potlucks, too!  Call it whatever we want, a permaculture club, social club, whatever.  We were doing drum circles for a minute at the community club, but the spearheads of that have gone.

You mentioned work parties, and I really love that idea.  I've been trying to organize them on our community, and would love to do others!  I resonate with what Paul said, me also being rather unconventional in my approaches and ideals, so often the way people are doing things isn't the way I would do it, and yet, I still would participate in helping.  And with you, I think we're rather on the same page ideologically, so we'd probably work together well.

I've been careful not to come over and visit you too much, too, don't want to overstay my welcome, or keep you from your work!  I would love to have more organized events, get together, talk, and work!  Next week is the first educational film night, and we'll be doing it at LEAST every other week.  I was thinking we could watch sepp holzer films next time!

Love and Light,
Joshua
 
                    
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It's true, Josh, I didn't mean to imply that your presence across the river didn't mean anything to me.  You guys are actually my entire social life!  I am excited for the "new comers" because it will just bring more traffic in general to the area, and I think that's something from which we could all benefit.
 
Joshua Chambers
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marina phillips wrote:
It's true, Josh, I didn't mean to imply that your presence across the river didn't mean anything to me.  You guys are actually my entire social life!  I am excited for the "new comers" because it will just bring more traffic in general to the area, and I think that's something from which we could all benefit.


I'm certainly not offended.  I'm excited about the arrivals too.  I struggle not to invite people here in droves, and I nearly do, it's just that few come. 

I'm thankful we are all here together.
Joshua
 
suomi--Nicola Lloyd
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Location: Finland
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Making new friends in a new country is challenging!
I live in Finland with my husband,we are both English. Now we did choose to move here and we knew there would be many challenges ahead of us, so we werent unprepared!
We are learning Finnish..its quite a bit of work, but good mental excersise! keeps the grey matter active!
Because my finnish isnt quite up to fluent conversation levels I find it hard to make freinds. I am a very out going kind of person and I have made afew really good contacts.
First we live 35klm from the nearest town, I do know a couple of finnish women in the village,they are lovely and lucky for me they speak pretty good english, I work a day a week in town so I meet people then and once again Ive forged some good relationships, its really frustration more than anything that I cant speak fluent finnish!  I really am working hard at it but it takes time!!!aggghhhhhh...
I have very good friends living in Ireland who I call on a regular basis, but I really do miss people just dropping in for a chat and just talking about "womens stuff".
We have a small holding here and every one know of us as we are "the English couple", and people are quite often interested in what we are doing and "why" we are in Finland.
Im only in my late 40s but Im starting the menopause! its now I really miss my close female friends, I have days when I truly feel dreadfull and my moods!!!....... my husband is a saint to live with me at the moment!
But life is good.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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well, I'm not quite in the same situation, but I sympathize.  I live in Seattle right now, but am destined to live on my family's farm in a small town.  this suits me just fine, but there's a lovely gal who I'm rather taken with involved.  she is determined to help me live on the farm, but quickly gets depressed and stir crazy whenever she spends more than a day there.  some of this has to do with the strange family dynamics at work on the place, but more of it has to do with leaving the really great group of friends she's got in Seattle.  it doesn't help that, at first blush, Woodland appears to be populated largely by backwards hillbillies who she has approximately nothing in common with.  this might not actually be the case, but first impressions are hard to undo.

my plan to make things more tolerable for her isn't terribly well-developed, but it involves transforming the farm into something of a paradise before it's time to actually move there.  I'm making progress, but not quickly.  she absolutely loves fruit, which fact, in the end, may be able to overcome her distaste for country living.  getting more plugged into the local community will help, as well, but it's difficult in an insular place.  there was a time when I was well-known there, but I'm not the four year-old folks remember, so we're effectively starting from scratch.

once or twice, she's asked why we couldn't find some land closer to Seattle.  we could, of course, and probably land that's better in a lot of ways, but it wouldn't be land that has nourished and been nourished by five generations of my family.  there are some old relationships with land in her family, too, and I look forward to a time when I'll be able to leave my family's place for a year or more to spend time on an ancient farm in Japan, but that time isn't yet.

breaks my heart to see this great gal so excited to help me out on the one hand, but completely dreading leaving behind what she knows and loves on the other hand.
 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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An important subject!Ive concluded that this problem is unique to our meathod of social organization.Nuclear families isolated on each owns private property is very inefficiant.The community elders dont have constant access to babysit children as in a tribal village.Compounding this problem is our post modern society in which every person is practicaly a different culture.If I do stop working to socialize,my options for like minded individuals are few.Many here just drive 1+hr each way for like minds!or are forced to experience represented community through mediated experience like computers or phone.IMO these devises only mitigate for flawed social desighn.
 
                    
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soumi - Geeze, at least I speak the same language as my neighbors, thanks for your perspective.  I considered moving to S. america pretty hard at one point, but then decided I didn't really want to speak spanish the rest of my life, and, yes, the period of time to achieve fluency would be difficult.  Good partners can be each others emotional buoy, that's for sure.  The first year is the hardest, or so other ex-pats have told me!

tel - Rural social lives are really quite different, and I think the adjustment period could be especially hard for a person who has a really comfortable and amazing group of friends just out of reach.  It might be easier since my friends are on the other coast - if they were just a few hours drive away it might be more tempting to hold onto that lifeline and try to keep up relations.  At a certain point, though, putting energy into those distant relationships is distracting from what is available right where you are.  The decision to move away from a city and a lively social circle has to be based on some very deep convictions, and requires a tremendous amount of focus. 

mt goat - I completely agree.  That's why our latest house design attempts to bring multiple families under one roof.  Living and working with people you love has got to be the best way to go about being a productive homesteader and having a fulfilling social world.  I think the best kind of social interaction happens at a long table, loaded with food, lined with hungry happy faces.  The parts I miss about Philly the most are our weekly potlucks, and the presence of my best friends in the next room. 

And yeah, the computer doesn't exactly replace the importance of human to human contact, but it can help mitigate the pain of isolation!  Or at least provide an avenue to find like minded people that share your particular cultural preferences.  Our post modern individualism and focus/obsession with communicating with people isn't going to go away overnight. 

Josh!  How bout potlucks on non-movie-night fridays?  I love the idea of a weekly gathering. 
 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Yes,the problem is still ours.There is a saying out here:"build a house,lose a spouse".Homesteading is unique in that you dont have a pre existing culture assist.My previous wife and I moved out to raw land.She didnt make time to maintain a strong friend base which left me providing most of her emotional needs.This might have been doable except that I also had to provide most aspects of our basic physical needs+work ect.Being young,male and inexperienced,I was unable to juggle all this effectivly.Got the infrastructure in though!Also if you want to socialize your kids,you have to drive and be away from neccesary tasks.This can be mitigated somewhat by finding tasks you can do while socialising(knitting ect.)
 
                    
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Someone used the image of women going down to the river to wash clothes together, and while it's very old fashioned and romantic, I think it speaks of what we all deeply want:  some company as we live our lives.  A single person, for me, is faarrr better than solitude, provided you enjoy their company.  But it takes more than two for a balanced emotional life. 
 
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