Nancy Mayfield


Guest Columnist and reporter for the Bellevue Herald-Leader and the Maquoketa Sentinel-Press

A city dweller for almost 50 years, I wanted to share a few things I have learned after moving to the country more than four years ago:

When your power goes out during a storm and you have a well as your water source, the water pump stops. That means you can’t take a shower, wash dishes, or most importantly, make coffee. I had no idea about this until the big storm a few weeks ago when our power was out for about 12 hours.

Having a four-wheel drive truck doesn’t guarantee you’ll get out of your driveway after a snow storm.

Having a tractor with a snow blower doesn’t mean you’ll get out of your driveway after a snow storm.

Having a country-raised husband who said he’s done all this before doesn’t necessarily help either.  

Having the phone number of a snow removal service to clear the quarter-mile driveway helps. It also helps to have the phone number of a towing service that can pull a tractor out of a ditch. Just saying.

The propane tank does not fill itself. I learned that the hard way— twice. Did you know there’s a gauge on it that tells you how much you have left?

Sometimes the cows that graze in the neighboring fields escape and wander into places they shouldn’t be. Cows don’t listen to reason. Best to call the farmer and let him know the situation.

Sometimes the horse that hangs out in a neighboring field gets out of its pasture. When that happens, it does not help to block the road with your car. The horse can go around it. It makes more sense to find a bucket of corn and resort to bribery.

Goldenrod and wild parsnip are not the same thing. They both have yellow flowers and look pretty, but wild parsnip is not a good thing to touch. It has a big, square stem.   

If you’re out for a hike with your normally mild-mannered dog and she attacks a wild animal, say a turkey, you probably need to let nature take its course. Trying to stop the action just prolongs the agony of the prey.

If your husband throws a clod of dirt at the dog before she does any major damage to a wild animal, say an opossum, she might drop it and retreat.

That same dog will not understand that the baby ducks your son bought for your husband for Father’s Day are pets and part of the family. She will grab one by the neck, looking really confused as you chase her around the yard, screaming at her to drop it (which she does, the duck amazingly unharmed). You will need to find a new home for the ducklings. (Thanks, Connie!)

While I’m on the subject of dogs, it is best to smell them before they come in from running around outside. They like to roll in dead things and stinky things in the cow pasture.

Gravel roads are slippery when they are dry.

Gravel roads are slippery when they are wet.

Gravel roads are slippery when they are covered by patches of ice.

It doesn’t pay to ever wash your car when you live on a gravel road. (As I rarely washed my car before I moved to the country, this is not a problem for me.)

Be careful when pulling off into the grassy ditches on the side of the road. They can be steeper than they look. Not that I know about that from firsthand experience or anything….