Back to the Land Reluctantly

Although they moved back to the land reluctantly at first, one city family found after awhile that country life did agree with them.

| November/December 1980

  • 066 back to the land reluctantly
    After moving back to the land reluctantly, the Wehr family had to contend with bugs were devouring their garden and chickens not devouring the bugs.
    ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • 066 back to the land reluctantly

Not every urban household yearns to become a rural household someday, and you can bet that our family didn't!  We loved the cosmopolitan lifestyle. And then an unforeseen set of circumstances forced us "back to the land" reluctantly... onto three acres of country property, complete with chickens, fruit trees, and a very large and prolific garden.

Our accidental rural relocation began when we decided to follow the family's breadwinner to the other side of the world for a four-year job assignment in the Middle East. The move made it necessary for us to rent our lovely ranch-style home ... which was situated in a quiet residential housing development near Virginia Beach.

At first, renting the house seemed to be a great idea. It gave us the extra funds needed to finance several vacations during our stay abroad, and it enabled us to purchase a piece of investment property, consisting of a rundown dwelling set on "three acres, more or less." (The land adjoined a main highway and was zoned for commercial use. We thought it would be a nice location for someone to rent for business purposes.)

Upon our return to the U.S., however, we discovered that our real estate agent had just renewed the tenants' two-year lease on our home! Rather than face the prospect of living in a motel while we tried to work out an equitable agreement to cancel the lease, we decided to take up residence on the as-yet-unrented "investment property." The idea was to move into the old rundown house — temporarily — while we made plans in an unhurried and logical manner.



Our pre-moving chores consisted of installing a septic system to replace the antiquated outhouse on the property, giving the house a coat of paint, laying a new kitchen floor, and building a few miscellaneous cabinets. Finally, we called the storage company to deliver our belongings. Within two weeks we were unpacked, settled in, and HATING IT!

Rather than give in to my misery, I decided to put in a garden (growing plants has always been therapeutic for me). Soon we'd cleared a large plot and planted some vegetables ... and almost immediately fell prey to an influx of seasonal insects that wanted to nibble on the sprouting bounty. A sympathetic neighbor, who'd noticed our vain attempts to do battle with the bugs, suggested that we buy a few chickens as a means of controlling the garden's insect population.






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