How to tell that you’re acculturating to country life:
(1) Although for decades you drank town water with no qualms, you now notice that it smells of chlorine. You find yourself getting precious about having only Northland rainwater in your drink bottle. You worry that this is the start of a slippery slope.
(2) When you see an NRM sign on the local store you know immediately what is being pushed, and do a mental stocktake on your supplies of chicken and horse feed.
(3) You own two categories of clothing — Farm Clothes and Town Clothes. Farm Clothes are full of holes, animal hair and random bits of straw. They are washed irregularly. Town Clothes are mostly outfits that can be worn with cowboy boots. That’s because when you get out of the car to open and close our farm gate the gravel plays havoc with shoes designed for pavements. Open toe sandals are particularly hellish, thus summer dresses are hardly ever part of Town Clothing.
(4) In respect of the above, Auckland friends start generously labeling your new look as ‘urban cowboy’. You hope for more of this to validate your choices (although really, those shoes are never going to work on the driveway gravel). Perhaps sometime soon Vogue might care to do a Montana horse country shoot, at which point I will be the very definition of fashion forward.
(5) The Byrds song ‘Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)’ takes on very literal meaning. On the farm there is a indeed a season for everything, and most times I’ve just missed it. We should have limed in late spring you see — whoops, missed that. Now, repeat after me: The shelter belts need to be trimmed in autumn.
(6) While driving in the country you used to see grass as just pretty green scenery. Instead you now assess each field you pass for weed content, and compare the level of dock / buttercup / dandelion (seasonally dependent obviously) with the crop in your own paddocks. You notice that some areas of farmland elicit severe grass envy. Your covetous inclinations also extend to tractors, quad bikes and post rammers.
(7) After years of steadfastly rejecting weedkillers on the basis of their biological hazard, you look at your paddock of dock / buttercup / dandelion (seasonally dependent) and start to see the appeal of a backpack full of glyphosate.
(8) You own a fencing tool and a fault finder, and a faint ‘tick, tick, tick’ heard out in a paddock prompts a zealous search for the electric fence short. Memories of hoofbeats racing past the bedroom window at 2am are all too recent.
(9) Your gumboot tan line has become a year round phenomenon, and you refer fondly to this place as PGG. After all with the dosh you’ve spent there you jolly well should be on first name terms by now.
What are the things that mark you as a country dude, an urban adventurer, or both?