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So you want to move to a rural area and you want to know What is it like living in a rural area. You have created a plan and done some research and think you are ready for the next steps.
Until you actually live in a rural area you won’t really know what it’s like. This article is going to give you a few ideas on how to get an idea of what rural life is actually like. It will give you some things to think about and some things to try out to help you develop a better understanding of rural life.
Living in a rural area can involve a large amount of time outside. Getting used to nature is the hardest part for some people. Camping is a great way to get both yourself and your family used to spend time outdoors for extended periods.
Start exploring the idea of camping trips as ways to experiment with rural life.
Whatever the weather
Weather doesn’t care about you or your schedule. As mentioned in this post, layering up helps. Getting used to being out in different types of weather is also important.
When you move to your rural life, you may find yourself out digging a drainage ditch in the rain, sun, or at night. Just by spending time outdoors you can slowly acclimatize yourself to this environment. Camping is a great way to make this a more enjoyable task.
Head for the hills.
For your first few camping trips use a well-known family campsite. Especially if you are new to camping. once you are used to that type of camping, head to less-used areas. Slowly build your skills towards being able to camp in remote areas.
For each trip have a goal or achievement in mind that you are working towards.
Some ideas could include; baking bread in a dutch oven; foraging items for your evening meal; fishing or hunting for your evening meal; or even basic craft skills such as making a pot hanger.
Plan for the future
Perhaps you already have a good range of camping skills and take regular camping trips with your family. Now is the time to plan for the future. Use each camping trip to get your family used to what it’s like living in a rural area.
If you have areas in mind that you are interested in living in, plan camping trips there. This will help you gain an idea of the landscape, people, and amenities in that area.
Gardening does not have to be hard. Plants want to grow. Give them the right conditions and they will grow. Learning how to garden is a quick and easy progression, however, being successful takes a long time and dedication.
In the simplest terms gardening is:
- pick a seed
- make a hole in the ground
- put the seed in the hole
- cover the seed with dirt
- water the seed.
Plants grow happily without human involvement all over the world. Learning how to get the plants you want to grow, and how to make them grow well is the hard part.
Start with herbs
All you need to grow some herbs, is a glass jar, and some water. It can be that simple.
Herbs such as
- and sage
Will all grow this way.
You do need a cutting of the herb instead of a seed, one taken in spring is best. Ask around your friends or neighbors and someone may be able to provide a cutting for you. Remove the lower leaves so they don’t rot in the water.
Then all you need is to fill a glass jar with water and place it in a sunny spot such as on a window sill. Still spring water is preferable due to the nutrients in it. Use a wide-mouthed jar to allow airflow. Change the water once a week for the first few weeks until new growth is established.
Containers are a good next step
Containers don’t have to be huge raised bed type items. Any small pot will do. First assess the space you have available with good sunlight. and choose a container appropriate to that.
A McDonald’s disposable coffee cup with soil from a local park is enough to grow a single strawberry plant, with good watering and the careful use of plant food.
Small 6” to 10” containers can be used to successfully grow lettuce; spinach; green onion radish and carrots. Just ensure they also have enough depth for vegetables such as carrots.
Gardening takes time not only to master but also to see if an experiment has worked. To know what it’s like living in a rural area, you have to understand what it’s like growing plants. Everything from a small herb on a window sill to a field full of a crop has a growing cycle. Learning the patience to allow plants to grow will also help you understand the pace of life that rural living follows.
You have to use a complete growing season to truly test out an experiment and see if it will be successful when it comes to growing and gardening. Take the time before you finally move to a rural area to experiment with growing as much as you can. Filling your home with green edible produce will be an added bonus.
Work With Animals
Animals are a large part of rural life. Horses, cattle, chickens ducks, rabbits, and so on can all be found in rural areas or on farmland. Getting used to animals can be difficult for many. You have to get used to mannerisms and smells.
If you are planning on using the animals for food this is also something that requires getting used to. There are opportunities to work with animals if you do a little research, volunteering is a place to begin if you can spare time.
Pets or Produce
One of the hardest aspects of keeping animals in a rural setting is the differentiation between a pet and a product. If you are keeping animals for food you have to get used to this process. Understanding this is what it is like living in a rural area.
You can keep some animals for their byproducts if it is too difficult to come to terms with the process of turning animals into food. Learning how to compartmentalize pets and produce is an essential aspect of rural life
Gain some experience
Working with animals can be difficult. Volunteering at a local animal shelter is a good way to start getting used to being around animals if you don’t have pets. Even owning pets will help you deal with animals you have no prior experience with.
If you have space you can start with small scale animal keeping such as rabbit or chickens, check local laws about keeping them. Chickens are a common choice as the eggs are easy to collect and can create an income source.
Cooking and preparing
Getting used to cooking and preparing fresh meat is sometimes overlooked. Much of the meat purchased in stores has already been processed in some form. Finding a source of meat that is less processed, such as from a small butcher, is important in understanding how your rural life may be different.
Have you ever plucked a chicken? Do you plan on having too when you are living in a rural area? Plucking a chicken seems like an easy task…until you try it for the first time. Developing these skills regarding animals is as important as knowing how to grow vegetables.
Work on a Farm
Working on a farm even for a day is an eye-opening experience for anyone not used to rural living. Some farms have seasonal work available, or working holidays that are excellent ways to learn a few new skills and spend time getting used to farm life.
Searching for a farm in the area you wish to move to and getting in touch may also yield an opportunity for a few day’s experience.
Cows are like puppies, very very large puppies. They can be inquisitive excitable and playful. A full herd coming towards you can be terrifying. Getting used to being around cows is a great way to prepare if you plan on having some as part of your rural lifestyle.
All herds regardless of animal will at some point run. One of the herd gets spooked and off they all go. Understanding this and learning how to deal with it is crucial if you plan on owning herd animals. Finding work on a farm is a great way of testing if herd animals are a good fit four you and your planned lifestyle.
Farms and rural areas smell. If you want to know what is like living in a rural area, it smells. Animals smell and different animals smell differently. Crops smell, manure smells. Silage smells. Working on a farm gives you the chance to experience some of this if you have never previously.
Some smells are better than others, some time of the year smell less than others. Try to test out different times of the year so you don’t get a nasty smelly surprise when you finally move to a rural area. This part of rural living is quite often overlooked by people who have spent very little time in the countryside, and around farms.
Get to know the area
Offering to work on a farm in the area you plan to move into is a great way to learn that area. It is also a great way to meet your potential neighbors prior to living in the area. You may discover that the piece of land you were interested in gets waterlogged each year.
Working holidays are ideal for this purpose, as they offer a way to learn the skill you will need in the future and a chance to gain information about the area. They are also the best way to learn what it is like living in a rural area.
Go Minimal for a Day
Sometimes living in a rural area requires making do. Power cuts, blocked roads, and many other unforeseen events can result in you having to make do with what you have on hand.
Going minimal for a day is a great way to experience this. You can plan an experiment to highlight potential problems to have to cope with for a day or longer if you wish.
Can you cope for a whole day without any electronic devices? It’s harder than you think. We take electricity for granted until we don’t have it. You could try a day where you can only use items powered by batteries. Or go all in and don’t use anything that requires electricity at all.
Can you still carry out a regular life? How much do you really rely on electronic devices? This is also a great way to assess your current lifestyle and how it will have to change when you move to a rural area.
What happens if you lose your water supply for a day? Do you know how much water you use on average in a day? The USGS estimates 80-100 gallons a day per person. The energy saving trust in the UK estimates 350L a household which is approx 76 gallons. Different climates will also require different amounts.
Could you store enough water for an entire day? How would you deal with a situation without water? This can happen and is what it could be like living in a rural area when a river bursts its banks and contaminates your water supply.
If you have started a garden could you live off what you have grown? Living in a rural area there may be times when this is what it is like. Lean months can be common especially over winter. Learning how to preserve food becomes an important part of your lifestyle.
Roads blocked due to storms and other reasons may result in you being unable to reach a store for a few days or even weeks. Do you have enough food stored, a bad harvest or bad storm can result in a few days of eating nothing but rice in extreme cases.
What is it like living in a rural area? It is living at a different pace of life to a city. You are living with nature all around you. It is idyllic snow-filled winters days and long drawn out summer ones. It is also smelly, wet, windy, and difficult.
Growing food and keeping livestock is both easy and hard at the same time, abundance and scarcity can both be a way of life in a single year.
The best course of action is to experience rural living for short periods of time before you fully commit to a complete lifestyle change.
Volunteering and working holidays are great ways to gain some experience and skills to prepare for your future.
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