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Thank God I’m a Country Boy

I might not have an ole fiddle, but I sure do have a fine wife!

Well I got me a fine wife I got me an ole fiddle
When the sun’s comin’ up I got cakes on the griddle
Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny funny riddle
Thank God I’m a country boy

Songwriter: John Martin Sommer – Recorded by: John Denver

Riddle: a mystifying, misleading, or puzzling question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed CONUNDRUMENIGMA

I can still remember the conversation with my wife Nikki about building our house in the middle of a woods. She always wanted to build a house on a hill somewhere. Being on a hill would have been fine, but there was something about living in a woods that had an allure for me. The first time we drove down the dead end road to the woods it was hot and muggy. An old logging trail was still there, but overgrown with brush.

Apparently “Dead End” isn’t PC anymore.

When I finally convinced Nikki this is going to be a great place to raise a family she had one request – please have a screen porch on it to save us from being carried away by mosquitoes. I agreed. Little did either of us know it would be 12 years before we actually had screens put into our “screen porch”. She is a real champ for dealing with me and my half done projects:).

There is something about country living, specifically in a woods that is a pure blessing. There are times when I am outside in the middle of the night and look up in amazement of where I am standing. It’s crystal clear. I can hear the coyotes in the swamp a half mile away. Peace.

Raising kids in the country is a different experience than being in a town or city. A dead-end road allows them to explore without too many real worries. They would get dirty, fall, get cuts, bruises, and stung by bees. We never had to think too much about what they were up to. They were in their own world.

… and everywhere that Laney went… Photo taken 2012.
…the mud was sure to flow! Photo taken 2013
I wanted a winding driveway, something that felt like you’re going on an adventure as you enter.
Addy is a good big sister – helmets on and away they’d go on Betty. Photo taken 2013.

I built them a makeshift tree fort when they were pretty young. I wasn’t worried about the safety of it. To me, I’ve never been keen on over-protecting everyone. If you want to be the best version of yourself, in my opinion you need to pick yourself up once in a while (hopefully not from falling off “the fort”).

The start of their tree fort. Definitely not to the standards of a treehouse, but they loved it. Photo taken 2009

Little did i know that the tree fort would eventually lead to them being little builders and inventors. By 2017 the fort has been added on to several times by the kids. It was quite the marvel. Unfortunately, it’s just about come it its end, with the wood starting to rot out. Landon got scratched up pretty bad from the floor giving out this year. But it gave the kids purpose. They had a vision, be it a bit cobbled, to build something great – and it was.

I really couldn’t leave wood lay around too long before it would end up getting used on the fort. Photo taken 2017.
Garver didn’t need a ladder. Laney may have been hiding. Photo taken 2017.

I wanted our family to experience so many aspects of life. It’s not like we have a big hobby farm or anything, but we do raise chickens and have a garden. One of the coolest things is ordering baby chicks – they come to us from Cackle Hatchery through standard mail! The chicks are so resilient. Of all the chicks we’ve ordered through the years I would say less than 5 have died before they are a week old.

Laney with one of the baby turkeys. Photo taken 2019.

Few things are as exciting as when the post office calls and lets us know our chicks have arrived. We’ve grown chickens off and on for years. With a larger family having eggs on hand all the time was a real plus. Some days Nikki whips up “Garver’s Favorite Pancakes” with scrambled eggs that are so great! On top of that, the kid’s almost felt like they were all additional pets, so it was always a little rough when a local fox, raccoon, or weasel snacked on the animals. It did help them understand though, things live, and they die. A hard lesson but a much easier way to help guide them through this reality.

Landon and Mason with their favorite chicken and rooster. Photo taken 2014.
Laney and one of the ducks. Photo taken 2014.
Addy’s had chickens around her a lot of her life. Photo taken 2018.
We get an assortment of chickens that are very beautiful to look at and have eggs that are just as amazing. We added Turkeys and Cornish Meat Chickens in 2019.
Homemade pancakes, aka Garver’s Favorite Pancakes, are a staple meal morning or night.

The idea of knowing where your food comes from has always been something I liked. Small-town Butcher Shops are completely underrated. There are two of in the area that I love going to – Pipe Meat Market and Salchert Meat. We also get a pig from our step-brother’s family. With a family of five we go through food pretty quick. This year Mason really wanted to raise meat chickens to butcher. It might not sound like a very exciting thing, but it was very rewarding. Not the killing part, it was more about being thankful for the chickens, and taking responsibility for your own food. No hormones, no chemicals, no “Beyond or Impossible” meat. Au naturel in all ways possible. We have two turkeys to butcher later this fall, making for a possible new tradition for Thanksgiving.

Getting ready for butchering chickens. Mason and I would calm them by stroking their head, and thanked them for helping feed our family. Photo taken 2019.
Mason and Nikki making shish kabobs. Photo taken 2019.

Another thing I love about the country is a garden. Historically, I may have been a little over-enthusiastic (you know… go big or go home). Nikki did tend to get the brunt of the workload with it, so we did agree to downsize some. It’s still a decent amount of vegetables. Tomatoes of course, Kohlrabi, Asparagus, Onions, Beets, Potatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers, Herbs, and Green Beans. Yeah… I guess it is still a pretty big garden…

Green Beans…
…get turned into Dilly Beans!
Cucumbers waiting for a vinegar bath for dinner.

A cool part of the garden is Landon’s Pumpkins. What, you ask it Landon’s Pumpkins? Well, a few years ago he made a point to take a pumpkin he felt was really good and save a handful of seeds from it. Over the winter he dried them out, and the following spring he planted them. Low and Behold – they grew! They are beautiful pumpkins too! The plant is very promising this year and am excited to see if he can keep this going!

Landon and one of his pumpkin. Photo taken 2018.

I will admit it’s not always easy to get everyone to help with the tasks country living brings, but I know deep down they love it when they are done. It’s easy to sit around, but they do appear to have a sense of accomplishment when they are done… although cleaning out a chicken coop in the middle of summer is really not a chore anyone is going to be excited about.

Garver cutting the grass after a win for Holyland Baseball. Photo taken 2019.

I could go on and on about the great experiences being a country boy and raising a family in a woods has brought me. There are more things I will blog about another time. Things like learning to hunt from my boys, how the woods helped build them into entrepreneurs, and maybe our take on making homemade maple syrup. Those stories are for another time.

John Denver may not have been exactly right. “Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny funny riddle.” A riddle needs to be solved. Life to me is all about the ride and experiences, and every day I’m learning something new from my family. I don’t know if I will ever truly solve the riddle, but I sure know it’s been an interesting adventure so far.

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