July 7th, 2010

About

Kim lives in an old 19th century farm house in Grey County, Ontario, Canada. After 8 years living alone in the country, she has graduated from city-slicker to true chick-in-the-stix.

Welcome to Chicks in the Stix – a girl’s guide to living in the country!

I’m hoping this blog will connect some of us for dialogue and for the sharing of stories, experiences, ideas, insights, problems, solutions and support about what it’s like and what it means to live in the country. I’d like it to be a place I wished I’d had available eight years ago before taking the plunge, and so maybe it will be a place of information, encouragement, help and fun for those of you new to the country, or considering such a move, as well as for those of us still figuring it out.

Here’s how it all began for me.

When I first decided I wanted to live in the country I was a ten year old city girl. By then, I’d spent most summers and holidays away from Calgary, on the Alberta and Saskatchewan farms belonging to my relatives. Both my parents had grown up on farms and I still had grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins scattered across the Canadian prairies on cattle ranches and grain farms.

Some of us in cities are only one or two generations removed from farm-life, which is a particular kind of country-living, and so have latent but stirring memories of actually being in the country – of the smell of camomile growing back of the barn, manure, combine engine grease, wet hay, a woodpile freshly cut, of warm winds blowing across ponds or dry wheat, heat scorching telephone lines enough to make them sing, the buzzing of cicadas and crickets, the whiz of grasshopper wings through hot air, rainy afternoons in front a woodstove. In moving to the country, we want to recapture those experiences, those times of ease, peace and happiness.

For me, it was those childhood summers of buzzing blue heat, twenty-five cent coins pressed into our palms by uncles to be spent in town at the only café, always a Chinese cafe, on cokes and chips and the pinball machine, of hay filled barns, big animals and long solitary walks in grain fields to write poetry and draw that ziplocked a love for the rural into my pores.

When I got serious about finding a place in the country to live, I was in my mid-forties, fresh out of a relationship, and my business was going well enough to support me and it was portable. I had the opportunity to assess where I was at in my career and life generally and how I envisioned my future. I’d lived in Toronto for more than twenty-five years where I’d developed a career in the visual art world and, while I needed to maintain a connection to it, I didn’t have to actually live there anymore. I got serious about really considering where and what would make me happiest and healthiest. I decided that what I really wanted to do was live in a rural environment. I didn’t want a lake or a beach, I wanted farm country, a small bit of land to walk on and a solid house with some history to it. In the spring of 2002 I bought an old farm house in West Grey County, Glenelg Township, 160 km north west of Toronto. It’s a yellow brick house built in 1890, in the Ontario Gothic style popular in the area at the time. I first saw it late in April, when the landscape was just starting to turn green, and I fell in love with it immediately.

Since 2002, I’ve lived alone in my country house and what I’ve discovered in that time is that there are many many women doing the same thing all over Canada. Single, divorced, widowed, no two women’s stories are the same. While our circumstances are each unique, we have many experiences – good and not so good – in common, and we tend to value many of the same things: independence, self-sufficiency, nature, animals, care for the environment, solitude, quiet, outdoor activities, as well as good dinner parties, the occasional barn dance, bonfire parties, and the exhilaration of roughing it in the bush, so to speak, and not only making it, but loving it.

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