Several years ago, we moved out to rural Benton County. Our home sits on 14 beautiful acres overlooking the Cedar River and I found myself asking, “Is this heaven or hell?” As we adapted to country life, I found that I needed a creative outlet to share the trials and tribulations, as well as the joys of country life, so I started a blog to share my adventures with family and friends. My dad found my stories very amusing and always encouraged me to turn those stories into a book. Saddly, he died before I could finish editing the book and I haven’t had the heart to go back to it to finish it. Instead, I have decided to share some of those stories with you.

When Gene and I were first married, Gene told me that his dream was to be a surgeon in a small, rural community, have a house on 15 acres with a tree farm. I looked at him in disbelief. He had just described my nightmare! Do rural communities have Dillard’s or Red Lobster??? My dream, on the other hand, was to live in Manhattan in a high-rise apartment with all white furniture and carpet. Thus began our married lives of compromise and gaining a certain amount of maturity.

Gene and I made several moves during our marriage, each to a bit smaller community, and I soon discovered that I didn’t want to have a carpet/furniture cleaner on retainer; and that having three small children AND a white sofa were not compatible. The children grew up and moved away, and Gene was given the opportunity to be a surgeon in Vinton. And believe it or not, he found a house with 14 acres and a tree farm for sale.

Our story starts here:

So we are moving to the country. Sounds great doesn’t it? No leash laws. No nosey neighbors. No subdivision rules. Just clean air and plenty of space all to ourselves.

Well it turns out that some things aren’t as easy as they should be. To begin with. How do you get mail? The house didn’t come with a mailbox and you can’t just put up a mailbox and start giving out your address. It turns out that you have to go to the post office and ask to add a new address. The problem is, which post office? When you are in the country, the nearest post office has no bearing on your mailing address. Which side of the street do you install the mailbox on? All of our neighbors have their boxes on the west side of the street.  But there isn’t any room for a mail truck to pull over on that side without risking going into the ditch which is at least a three story drop.  It took us three weeks to get a mailbox approved and installed, and wouldn’t you know, the gas and electrical lines run under it!!!!

Trash . . . seriously, this should be an easy one. But when you ask around, most people say, “You are in the country. Most people just burn it.” So where do you get a burn barrel? I don’t have one laying around. I don’t plan to buy anything in a large metal barrel. Does Theisen’s sell burn barrels?

Ordering things. Going to the store isn’t convenient. So I think, “No problem, I’ll just get on the Internet” . . . it turns out that until your address has been listed for six months, many companies don’t recognize it as a legal address and won’t ship to you. Are you kidding me?

Oh, and the UPS man informed me the first of December that we needed a plan. “Huh?” I ask.  It seems that when it snows or is icy, UPS won’t try to come up our long drive to deliver packages. So the nice UPS man asked where would I like him to deliver them? Is he kidding? I haven’t met my neighbors yet. Do you think the bank ladies in Urbana will take my packages? They at least call me by my name. Mr. UPS says that maybe we could build a box to put packages in and “secure it” out by the end of the drive. Only, “It needs to be tall enough not to get buried by the snow plow.” What????

I will post more stories about our transition to country living each week . . . or until I run out of amusing stories.

Kathy Lariviere, Author