Keeping It Local
The less access you have to fresh, quality produce and meat, the more work you have to do to create your own. Small towns usually have residential lots of generous size and it’s not uncommon to have at least an acre within the city limits. Having more square footage means having more outdoor space to garden and boy do these people garden. With no reliable retail source of fresh produce within possibly 50 miles or more, growing your own in your backyard makes sense. Many smaller towns also do not have livestock restrictions within city limits. Depending on the open space that is available, one could have anything from chickens to cows right in the backyard. Eggs always taste better straight from the chicken rather than the cardboard carton anyway. Not to mention hunting seasons for game. Many rural dwellers have larger acreage for hunting or know someone who does. Venison, pig, turkey, quail, and dove are common targets in Texas and are frequently found in my parents’ freezers.
The luxury of treated and filtered water was a dream for many agrarians (and still is) and is something city folk tend to take for granted. As a child, I remember pulling up water from the cistern to make fresh sun tea when the stock pond was too low and the water was murky. This cistern has been in use for more than 80 years and the concept employs tactics that suburban housewives today are scrambling over: harvesting rainwater runoff from the roof. In rural communities, concrete curbs and underground storm sewers are few and far between. Instead, gravel roads and bar ditches (known to the engineer as bioswales) are an equal substitute. These porous surfaces allow water to seep into the ground while still evacuating it from structures. And because of smaller building footprints, there’s less water to evacuate.
Horses and cattle have been used by humans for thousands of years to perform jobs too large for human hands. And even today, horses are still used when they could be easily be replaced by motorized all-terrain vehicles. As for transportation, the urban equal to a horse would be a bicycle. With Texas’ wind energy production experiencing a boon in the last 20 years, one can’t help but think of how windmills have been used for over 150 years on the same plains to pull up precious groundwater for human and livestock production.
Yes, I realize that many of these practices are a result of a lack of financial and technological resources, but there’s no denying that these once-archaic concepts are now in vogue. What’s even more ironic is that these rustic folks don’t even realize the economical and environmental value and potential in what they are doing; it’s just “always been done that way”. Is it possible that rural communities are so far behind, they’re ahead?