Thinking Out Loud

June 3, 2014

Rural Reflections

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:00 am

So now we’re into day five of sheep-sitting. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

It’s really quiet here.  No trains. No freeway traffic in the background. No sirens from police, fire and ambulances. No having to listen to the neighbours arguing over who used the last of the milk, or the expletives that accompany that conversation. No listening to the baby crying at the home daycare a yard over.

It’s too quiet to sleep. I can’t sleep without some background noise. I turned on a fan, but felt very guilty doing so. Also, my wife hates the fan.

It’s a slower pace in the country. Urban life is simply more frantic and it acts as a contagion, unless you find a way to seal out the city with airtight doors. I’ve been in homes in the middle of towns where you enter and everything is peaceful and serene and the only sound is the grandfather clock ticking, its chimes breaking the silence on the quarter hours. But most people’s homes reflect the pace of the city which surrounds them.

The hens and the sheep know where they’re supposed to be. The written instructions we were left were good and helpful, but the animals have a way of letting you know if you’re doing it wrong. Some of this is instinctual, but some of it is simply the routine that has evolved here. Go off script and they look at you as if to say, “There is a disturbance in The Force.”

The dogs require more work than the sheep and chickens. Maybe it’s because they’re just one step removed from the humans in the household pecking order. The humans of course are the most demanding, the most complicated; but the dogs are a close second.

City people know nothing of the intricacies of agriculture. So this week I learned about the difference between fertilized and unfertilized eggs. Who knew? Country people knew.

The cat seems to be in charge of everything. I get the distinct impression that the cat is watching our every move and is going to file a report when the farm owners get back. There were no instructions left for us in terms of giving the cat food or water, which is rather suspicious, don’t you think?

Closer to nature is not closer to God. I would imagine that there are, in the farm properties near here, some atheists. Getting back to nature does not assure one will make the creator-connection. I think that rather, one interprets what one sees in whatever ways they are predisposed. That said, I think with a longer visit, a person would see nature acting out parables that would point to the divine plan of God, more clearly defined in contrast to man’s attempts to render that plan null and void, which is evidenced only upon reflection. But there are agnostics, atheists and skeptics down on the farm.

Living in someone else’s house for a few days speaks to their character. It’s not a matter of neatness and order, but sometimes I have experienced what can only be called a “house of peace.” It’s not just the rural setting — although I know that adds to it — that makes this a relaxing environment. Visitors to our home might find it reflects something more chaotic.

I love it when people have large libraries. I’m not one of these people who goes poking around medicine cabinets, but I do get downright nosy when it comes to bookshelves. You realize that these are the writers and the ideas that have helped form and shape people into who they are today.

Each of us is unique, but some people do have better lives. I don’t covet this place specifically, but I recognize that while we try to learn to be content in whatever place we find ourselves, there are some situations that are enviable. That said however, I also recognize that the owners of this property worked long and hard to acquire it and maintain it. Coveting is tempered somewhat when you know all the facts.

I will miss this when we’re back home.



  1. Glad you’re enjoying your time in the country. Farm living is the life for me. For me closer to nature is definitely closer to God. From my perspective we all need to slow down, be quiet and learn from the rest of creation. It nurtures my soul.

    You’re surely right about dogs.

    Comment by Bill — June 3, 2014 @ 9:55 pm

    • Your profile picture says it all! The place we stayed was overrun with asparagus, too. We were told to help ourselves, but neither of us are big fans.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 3, 2014 @ 11:13 pm

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