[Homestead] Rural Living 101
genegerue at ruralize.com
Mon Nov 17 11:11:37 EST 2008
Damn! We're going mainstream, folks.
A business opportunity?
Ex-city dwellers get lessons in rural living through University of
Missouri Extension course
By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER | Associated Press Writer
8:24 AM CST, November 17, 2008
NEVADA, Mo. (AP) _ Flooded country roads. Roving packs of dogs with no
owners in sight. Overgrown weeds as far as the eye can see.
Leaving Southern California for the sprawling Midwest plains had
seemed a no-brainer for Dale and Marilyn Johnson, retired occupational
therapists who moved to Fort Scott, Kan., last year to be closer to
their daughter and five grandchildren. The 22-acre farm they now call
home was a return of sorts for Dale Johnson, 68, who lived on a
northernWisconsin farm as a boy.
But their dreams of an idyllic retirement surrounded by five dogs, two
birds, one cat, four llamas, a goat and a donkey were quickly tempered
by a glaringly obvious reality: The couple barely knew a lick about
how to navigate rural life.
"The people who grew up on farms know this stuff intuitively," said
Marilyn Johnson, also 68. "We feel like we're starting over."
An infusion of former city and suburban dwellers into rural
communities convinced University ofMissouri Extension agents that
these newcomers needed some commonsense lessons on how to not just
survive but also thrive off the beaten path. Those conversations led
to the creation of Rural Living 101, a two-week crash course for ex-
urbanites offered so far in Kirksville, St. Joseph andNevada. The cost
The recent course inVernon County, just across the borders withKansas
and Oklahomain southwest Missouri, attracted a retired Navy officer
from Southern California, a former Ohio state conservation agent, the
Johnsons and a longtime local looking to broaden her knowledge.
"This is drastically different than city life," said Vernon County
agricultural extension agent Wayne Prewitt. "It's not what a lot of
people are used to."
Class members learned about battling noxious plants, pesticide laws,
stocking ponds, land use management and more. The Vernon County clerk
tutored participants about the township form of government, where a
board meeting can take place at an elected clerk's home as often as at
a public building.
Some of the most valuable tips stemmed from a more informal body of
knowledge. Problems with loose gravel or other road maintenance
issues? Get a school bus route on your street; that usually draws more
attention from decision-makers.
Beset by ticks and chiggers? Try diesel fuel on the bottom of your
boots, or talcum powder on the fur of your dogs and horses.
Excluding population pockets in regions such as the upper Great Lakes,
southeastern states and the Rocky Mountain West, more than half of the
rural counties in the U.S. are actually losing population, notes John
Cromartie, a U.S. Department of Agriculture geographer.
At the same time, increased mobility means that more newcomers are
moving into previously isolated areas such as Vernon County, he added.
With those transitions come inevitable challenges.
"Arizona and Florida are sharing the migration with a broader array of
communities," he said. "Any migration requires an adjustment."
Sara Jean Peters moved to rural St. Clair County more than seven years
ago after retiring from the Ohio conservation department. In that job,
she spent plenty of time in rural communities. But that's where the
Missouri winters are cold, but with less snow than in Ohio. The clay
soil that allowed her to grow certain crops up north was replaced by
the sandier soil found on the cusp of the Ozarks.
"As much time as I had spent outdoors, it was totally different here,"
"I thought I was fairly well prepared. I've done this all my life. But
it's a different way around here."
Newcomers without experience in the country are even less equipped for
the transition, Peters added.
"We have a lot of movement from the urban areas here," she said. "And
people do not realize the difference."
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