This October marks our second year of living on a farm* outside Chapel Hill, which is the longest my husband and I have ever lived anywhere since we left our parents' homes. We had a string of mediocre rentals in Maryland, so we moved around a lot during graduate school. And then there was that whole nonsense with the dog in Durham, but it all worked out in the end because we moved out here as a result.
We've loved living here. I think I do even more so than my husband because I like having this kind of space to roam around outside and I really don't miss living close to restaurants or bars. I kind of grew up this way in a somewhat rural part of Maryland where our house was situated in the midst of horse farms, near a river. I spent a lot of my childhood wandering around the woods and fields, wading through the streams, canoeing, etc. (basically trespassing), and there's just something special about knowing what all the plants and animals are up to year round.
But since living out here, I've found a darker side to the country-life that I didn't know existed before. Because for all the days the farm looks like the above picture, it also can look like this:
Beyond the the gloominess and the isolation (and the spiders), there's also this sense that we're intruding. The animals that live out here are wild and sometimes a little dangerous, and it's their land, not ours.
We have coyotes and they run around in packs in the early evening and at night during the fall/winter. Mostly, we hear their high-pitched yipping a ways off through the forest, but sometimes we hear them circling around the house late at night. Seriously, they come to our house and investigate.
I almost stepped on a copperhead the other day. Like really, almost put my foot right on it. I see snakes all the time out here and most of them are harmless. But there's also a sizable population of copperheads, which are poisonous. If my husband is around, he's strong enough to kill them with a rock. I'm not that strong, so I always have to run back to the house to grab a hoe, but most of the time the snake just slithers off somewhere before I can kill it, and that's almost worse, because now you know there's a poisonous animal lurking somewhere nearby, but you can't see it.
And then just the other day, I took our dog for a walk in the morning, and then again a few hours later after lunch. At some point during those few hours, an animal, probably a coyote or a fox, left behind a long, thick piece of intestine on the path where we walk. It must have killed a small deer, maybe a fawn, or maybe even a dog or cat. Whatever it was, both the animal that was killed and the thing that killed it had to have been fairly large. And we're quietly sharing the same space with it, whatever it was, which can be a little disconcerting.
And then of course there's the more subtle dangers, like the ticks that carry Lyme's disease. My husband is a very outdoorsy person, and never thinks twice about exploring in the woods. But since he got bit by that tick and has been really suffering from the effects of Lyme's disease (and struggling with doctors** who don't want to prescribe any more antibiotics even though his symptoms haven't completely gone away...), he's admitted to feeling much more uneasy about living on the farm than he ever had before. I can understand that when it feels like there's danger lurking beneath every leaf.
Anyway, happy two-year anniversary to us and all the wildlife that's puts up with us while we're here. It's a privilege to live out in the country, but it's not a petting-zoo.
*Technically, it's not a farm, but I don't know how else to describe it so you'd understand. It's a very strange place that's more like a semi-public park, though it has a specialized farming purpose.
**Don't worry, we're going to find a better doctor.