The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect



My neighbor, Ramone, has owned the property next to me since the early 60’s. Ramone worked for the railroad and lived in town for many years, but he kept cattle out on his land and about twenty years ago he finally built a house out here. When he was in his 30’s he built the fence around his pasture from trees he cut down along the river bank.
Over the years the fence has begun to sink and sag and fall and sway and break and crumble and, well, deteriorate.

Ramone has an interesting way of mending fences.

He uses whatever he has on hand. He has a lot of orange bailing twine on hand.

He also has boards and poles and odd scraps of metal and blocks of concrete and broken gates and a Volkswagen Van. All these things are crucial to his fence mending.

But, no matter how much orange bailing twine Ramone ties on the bits of wire that he calls a fence….

his cows manage to get out everyday. At least four cows are in my yard all day. It used to startle me to walk out and see these beasts grazing on my lawn.

But, now I just look at them and they look at me. I try to move them to areas where I’d like a little grass trimming done.

But, they don’t listen me. So, eventually Preacher, my dog, and I walk them back into the pasture, over the orange bailing twine and around the Volkswagen Van and through the bits of wire and poles and concrete blocks. The cows look at me and I look at them and we say, “Okay, same time tomorrow? Yep, see ya tomorrow.”

Beer Flats and Tomatoes

My darling neighbors, Ramone and Virginia, are both octogenarians. Ramone is starting to show his age, a few years ago he fell off his roof and hurt himself pretty badly, now he struggles to walk around. But, Virginia, she makes me look like a sloth stuck in a tar pit. That woman gets up at the crack of dawn, hangs out her laundry, goes for a walk and then she gets her day started.

For 25 years Virginia owned a liquor store in our downtown area. She ran the place herself until she got tired of fussing with the kids that would run in and steal a can of beer. She sold the business at the tender age of 73.

She keeps in contact with the new owners because she still owns the building. She’s a landlord for crying out loud!

I was over talking to her and Ramone a couple of days ago as they sat on their side porch enjoying the warm sun. Our conversations usually tend to vacillate between what’s growing in the garden, the kids and all the animals. I told Virginia that I had an abundance of large green tomatoes hanging in my garden. Then she asked me if I had any beer flats. Beer flats?

Yesterday, as I was lounging around in my pj’s talking on the phone Virginia knocked on my door. I sprinted upstairs to put some clothes on and then ran outside trying to act like I had been up for hours, cleaned my house, cooked twelve meals and given birth. But, I don’t think she was buying it.

In the back seat of her car she had beer flats to give to me. She had stopped by her old liquor store and asked for some on her way to quilting with the ladies. She told me to wrap my tomatoes in newspaper and lay them in the beer flats then store them in the basement. The tomatoes will ripen slowly and I should have fresh tomatoes all winter. I love Virginia, maybe someday I’ll have a smidgen of her energy.

Now, all I need is some newspaper.

Neighborhood Competition

Ramone and Virginia are my neighbors. Ramone just celebrated his 88th birthday and Virginia is a young and vibrant 86 year old. Virginia amazes me. She gets up every morning and takes a walk with my dog, Preacher. Then she hangs her laundry out on the line. 

Since seeing her laundry swaying in the morning breeze it has been my soul’s desire to get my laundry out before her. I don’t know why, I just wanted to beat that old gal to the clothes line!
But, dang!  She gets up so stinkin’ early and I uh, well, um, I don’t.  But, a few mornings ago, I couldn’t sleep and got tired of fighting the covers so I drug my bodaciousness out of bed and hung out the laundry.  When I looked over at Virginia’s line it was empty.  YES!  Finally, I beat her.
When she did come out this is what she put out on the line.  Four things.  Which probably meant she didn’t have any other laundry.  And I was just getting started.  An hour later she came out took down her meager load and I was left standing with another ginormous basket of wet clothes to hang out.  Load after load all day long.  My enthusiasm for defeating her dissipated quickly.
You know what else Virginia has?  A propane tank.  Not just a propane tank, but a propane tank painted like a cow.  And she has an old fashioned water pump there in the background.  She fills her bird bath with it.  How stinkin’ cute is that?!
And this.  The kissing tractors.  I want kissing tractors!  Why don’t I have kissing tractors?  Shouldn’t every homestead have these love birds sitting out in a field?  Yes, I think so.  At least I get to look at them through my dining room window.