The Call of the Country

(Myself and our dog Jedda, on my family’s property in 1993.)

Most of my childhood was spent on a big dusty farm, in drought-stricken Queensland. We had horses, cows, sheep, ducks and chickens. I bottle fed poddy lambs and calves, saw countless foals being born and had a whole menagerie of dogs, cats and guinea pigs as pets. I went on long rambling walks with my dad, collected stones in our dry creek bed and set up a cubby house in an old chook shed. I have such wonderful memories of my childhood adventures in the bush.

Despite all of the amazing things that come with growing up on a farm, throughout my entire childhood I longed for the city. Life on the land is tough. Our farm faced mouse plagues, financial hardships and extreme drought (up until I was a teenager I could have counted the number of times I had seen real rain on my fingers). Our family could never take holidays because my parents couldn’t leave the animals unattended, the bus ride to school was long and our toilet always had frogs in it. Obviously droughts and mouse plagues are much more serious issues, but when you’re six you’re oblivious to the bigger picture. As a little kid, not getting trips to the beach, spending an hour on the bus and having to share the toilet with frogs are big deals. I imaged how wonderful it would be to be able to walk to school, to have yearly vacations and to have a lovely frog-free bathroom. I thought it would be amazing to have other kids live in the house next door and to be able to ride our bikes together to the corner store, like they did on TV. I always hated wearing pants or jeans but dresses weren’t really farm appropriate, so I fantasised that if I lived in the city I would never have to wear jeans again.

After school I moved to a large coastal town to go to uni, but it still wasn’t enough. I craved the hussle and bussle. I was lucky enough to get a job in Sydney as soon as I finished uni, so Reubs and I made the move to the big smoke. I was so excited. A real city! Shops and people and cafes and art galleries and stuff happening 24/7! This was it. This was what I had been dreaming of my whole life.

Unfortunately the excitement was short lived. Inspite of the cafes and galleries, the frog-free bathrooms and the freedom to wear dresses every day of the year (which I did!) about a year in I realised Sydney wasn’t for me. Soon after I realised life in an office cubicle wasn’t either. Reuben and I visited my mum in rural Victoria and unexpectedly found ourselves longing for the coziness of a country town. Suddenly the more affordable cost of living, the lack of ridiculous traffic and the gentler pace of the country seemed so very appealing. The country was calling me back and the idea of a simpler life was beginning to unfurl. Not long after we moved to Bendigo.

Moving here was one of the best decisions we ever made, but now sometimes even Bendigo seems a little too much. We love Bendigo and we plan to stay close, but I think eventually we will move out to one of the smaller surrounding towns or out of town altogether. I seem to have come full circle. As a child I couldn’t wait to experience the busyness and excitement of the city, but now as an adult I find myself craving the peace and the simplicity of the country. These days I long for long walks in the bush, home grown veggies and bonfires under the stars. I relish my time out of town and daydream about a more rural life. Though I am more aware now of the hardships my family faced on the farm than I ever was as a child, I look back on my time on the farm so fondly. Despite the lack of holidays, the long bus trips and the toilet frogs (and the more serious problems my family faced) I believe now that growing up in the country was a real privilege. I am so grateful that my childhood was spent in a place where I was free to roam and explore. I am eternally thankful that I grew up surrounded by trees and animals and fresh air, playing in the dirt, collecting fresh eggs and learning to ride a bike on our long, dusty driveway. If Reuben and I ever have children, I hope that we can give them that gift too.

Isn’t it interesting how our perspectives change?

Are you a town mouse or a country mouse? I have lived in town for years now, and I may be here a while yet, but I think at heart I’ll always be that little farm girl, with her jumper around her waist, a dog at her side and the sun in her eyes. The country just calls me.

Katie x

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Katie

About Katie

Katie is a coffee-drinking, granny square-making, op-shopping daydreamer. Katie likes vintage dresses, Pictionary, doilies and colourful tights. Katie's raspberry baked cheesecake will rock your socks off.

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31 Responses to “The Call of the Country”

  1. Claire July 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    Loved reading this katie!

  2. PetitPixel July 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Love it. I grew up in the country too…and I miss it (even though I live close enough to the bush to go for walks without running into people & cars) because it calms me in a way nowhere else does. In fact, on the morning of my wedding, I took off at like 7am back to where I grew up (only 20 mins away)…just because I needed that space and to walk the same dirt roads I had since I was a little kid. I’m so glad I did, I remember that morning vividly…and always look forward to packing up the dog in the car and returning for another wander…especially in autumn :)

    • Katie
      Katie July 26, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

      The country calms me too! We all left our family farm when my parents seperated when I was nine and I often think about what it would be like to go back… It’d be very bittersweet. You are lucky to live so close to where you grew up – the mental image of you walking the dirt road on the day of your wedding is beautiful <3

  3. Jane @ Shady Baker July 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Excellent post Katie, lovely words as always! I grew up on a big old dusty farm too in Western NSW. I went to boarding school, worked and studied in ‘towns’ and now find myself married to a farmer and living not far from where I grew up. I adore the city and all it has to offer…but only for short breaks. The country makes me feel far more balanced and content.

    • Katie
      Katie July 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      Thanks Jane! And yes, I still love the city for visiting, just not for living! x

  4. Deirdre Cronin O'Driscoll July 25, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Really enjoyed reading this Katie it just goes to show that what we want, or think we want ,may not always be best for us xxxx

  5. Erin July 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    Hi K + R.
    I grew up, and still live in the Blue Mountains in NSW, beautiful but very heavily populated. I have been with my partner for over 6 months now and he lives in a country town. Every time I make the long drive home, the pull to move to the quiet, small and idyllic country town gets stronger. I dream of open fires, being involved in the community, CWA bake sales and waking up to the sounds of silence.
    Love your little piece of the web, too. Xx
    Erin.

    • Katie
      Katie July 26, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

      Those are the things I dream of too! Isn’t it funny though, when we lived in Sydney I often daydreamed about running off to live in the Blue Mountains, because comparatively it seemed so peaceful and country-ish! But I suppose most places seem countryish compared to Sydney ;)

      • Nadia January 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

        Stumbled upon your blog today – love it.

        So true about Sydney. I live in the thick of it (crap traffic and expensive apartments – houses, don’t even bother)! We plan to make the move to the Blue Mountains (I know it is still Syd, but to me it seems a lifetime away from city Sydney) at the end of the year in order to escape Syd. From there, eventually make it rural.

        Like you, I’ve had my go at Syd, over it now and need out!

        x

  6. Zoe July 26, 2012 at 12:28 am #

    I know you feel! Growing up in country vic, all I wanted was the big city, now I can’t wait to get back to the peace of the country. I can’t wait to visit you on your little farm one day, when we live in the same state. xx

    • Katie
      Katie July 26, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

      I would love that Zoe! I think we have so much in common <3

  7. Carissa July 26, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    This is a wonderful post! I loved it! I’m a country mouse. I grew up out of a small town on a farm and after high school made my way moving across Canada and living here and there. Six years later I’m back in home town. There’s just something comforting and familiar with country life!

  8. Chestnut Mocha July 26, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    I know what you mean, Katie! I definitely feel that perspectives change. I was born in a small southern town and also every summer I spent in a way smaller village with my grandmother. Just as you describe the farm life. I lived in it and enjoyed it a lot. Then when I was 8 we moved to a suburb of a big city in the north. It was still mostly countryside living although you could always hop on a bus and in 15 minutes enjoy all the cool city stuff. Which I didn’t enjoy that much. Being a teenager I loved spending time in the woods, fields, around a lake and riding horses. It all changed when we moved to Moscow. Huge noisy city. Tons of opportunities of course. But my trip to uni would take me 2-2,5 hours ONE way every day! Just from one side of the city to another! The past 10 years that I spent in Moscow it was always a struggle to find any free time to do things for myself…
    And now we moved across the ocean to a small town in the mountains! I love nature here, i love how the air smells, i love that i can walk anywhere in the town and i love how much more free time i have! And it’s also really cool to live in a house with a yard and a garden, not in an apartment surrounded with other apartments. I only worry that the town might become too small at some point.. We’ll see… :-)

    • Katie
      Katie July 26, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

      Oh, a 2.5 hour commute?! That is killer. When we lived in Sydney the trip to work took me 1.5 hours each way and that drove me crazy, so I can’t imagine how tough it would be with a whole extra hour added on! Like you, I have had so much more time and found things so much easier since we moved to a smaller town. I can’t possibly know what the future holds for me but at this stage I really can’t imagine going back to city life. Oh and where you lives sounds gorgeous! x

  9. Louise July 26, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    So far your life has been relatively easy. Your family provided you with a great childhood. Now it is your turn to provide a great adulthood.
    As a mother of adult children I think you and Reuben should spread your wings more. There is a comment here from a person who lived in Moscow for ten years. Experiences like that are really valuable. Travel. See the world. Stretch your life. It is extremely difficult to do some of these things after you have a family and commitments. Do it while you are young and your life will be richer forever. You will still be you, but a richer more colourful you. At least travel to all the different states of Australia. At least holiday in other countries. But it is better still to live and work in another country for a while. One day you will have to look after ill parents, care for dying cousins, feed and clothe children, and perhaps be the carers of a disabled family member. That life will be rich too, but to live it well you need to have had the education that only wide personal experience brings. You do not know what is out there until you see it, feel it, smell it, and live it.

  10. Celest July 26, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    I just returned to the country too.
    I grew up on a hobby farm and moved directly to the city upon graduation. Eventually city life grew a little dull and then we had a child and wanted to give her the joys of growing up in a smaller town.
    People are friendlier and life moves a little slower. I can afford to stay home with her and be momma full time.. there’s also clean water for swimming and woods to walk in.
    Makes me wonder what I was always rushing around for.
    Still.. we’ve moved to the ‘town’ part of the small town. Rural is a little ways off, if ever, for us.

  11. Jennifer F. July 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    I grew up in town and presently live in a city with 110,000 other people. I would be beside myself without the market close by. I don’t think country life would suit us. I do like camping and hiking, I like animals and growing vegetables, but I am a town mouse at heart. (I have never lived in a large city, so I can’t say if that would be okay or not)

    • Katie
      Katie July 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Bendigo is just a little smaller than your city, with a population of around 105,000. It’s a really great place to live and as much as I love the country, I wouldn’t like to be so far out we couldn’t pop in for lunch or whatever we feel like doing :)

  12. Chantille Fleur July 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    It made me smile reading that. I know what you mean about frogs in the toilet – our last house had an outside toilet…we rarely got frogs, but you had to dodge the cane toads, and twice we found a python in there! My sister and I did have a cubby house in an old chook shed once.
    I was wondering what kind of dog it is in the photo – just curious because my mum had a chocolate lab called Jeda when she was a kid. :)
    Whenever we had holidays as kids (before we lived out of town), it was always to farm stay type places. Now we never go on holidays, except day trips, due to the animals lol! But I wouldn’t have it any other way and am definitely a country mouse – a recent trip to Brisbane made my mind up on that one!
    Sarah x

    • Katie
      Katie July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

      I can’t tell you how excited I am to hear I wasn’t the only kid with a chook shed cubby, haha! Jedda was a lab cross bull mastiff. She was such a sweet, gentle dog. I adored her :)

      • Chantille Fleur July 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

        As our flock grew, the cubby was turned back into a chook house again lol!

  13. Teresa July 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    It is funny how our perpestives change!

    I’m not a country girl but I was born and lived in Canberra for the majority of my life and as much as it’s the nation’s captial city, it is just a big country town. I always wanted to move to Melbourne and eventually ended up living in Brisbane for a few years (which was great but too hot in summer!) and then I lived in Hong Kong for a few months. I love the conveniences of cities and how they always have something exiciting and new happening but like yourself, I like the quiet of the country.

    I’m living in East Gippsland (Victoria) now and I’m pretty happy… for the moment. ;)

    • Katie
      Katie July 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

      I have to admit I do really like the conveniences of the city too! While I’d love to live in the country, ideally I’d really like to be close to a big town/small city too. I’d miss cafe brunches and op-shop visits if I was somewhere very secluded ;)

  14. Shinypigeon July 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    I grew up in a large village, but it was when I visited my grandparents in their country hamlet that I used to swoon. I still do.
    I went and lived in London after I finished Uni, and while I do sometimes miss the instant access to things, I want nothing more than a cottage on a hill, a large pantry and a space for growing yummy things.

  15. Ravs July 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Country Girl! Though I grew up in a small town, close to other larger towns (Latrobe Valley, Vic), rather than a farm. Would love to live in a small town again, but not possible if I want to practice this profession. Brisbane’s OK though, & I have a real community again now the kids are at school, missed that. Hated the concrete, busy jungle that is Sydney. Loved living in Launceston.

  16. Sanaa July 28, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    I suppose I always really wanted to live in the “city.” I currently live in a very small town and go to university in a much larger bust still almost quaint city. I love living in the city for university, but I doubt I would be able to live there after university is over. Ideally I’d move to a smaller town, but I suppose we shall see when the time comes. I think where you grow up really has a big impact on where you want to live when you are older!

  17. Sierra July 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    I LOVE THE WAY YOU WRITE.
    I just found your blog and I love it!
    xoxo,
    Sierra
    Oh, Just Living the Dream

    • Katie
      Katie July 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

      As far as I’m concerned that is pretty much the greatest compliment ever. Thank you so much Sierra x

  18. Lyndall July 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    My childhood dog was called Jedda too!

    I grew up in the country and I longed for lots of the same things as you… wearing fancy clothes and riding my bike to the shop especially, hehe. I’m very much a city dweller but
    I can enjoy the country now in a way I couldn’t when I was young. I don’t think we will ever move back but I love going to little country towns for holidays or short drives.

    Living in Adelaide I kind of get the best of both worlds since there are lots of cute towns a nice driving distance away.

  19. Hopskipandjump July 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    What a gorgeous post Katie, really heartfelt and honest. I loved it. I’m now loving in grey and overcrowded old London, and your post makes me long a little bit for my childhood in North East Victoria.

  20. robbie August 5, 2012 at 4:39 am #

    i’m definitely a country mouse. i’ve lived in two bigger cities, and i just loathed being there. the acceptability isn’t worth all of the negative attributes, besides i can make most of the things i need now. i can’t wait to have a farm of my own.

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