Rural Homeschooling and the “Good ‘Ol Life”: Lana Hope

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Rural Homeschooling and the “Good ‘Ol Life”: Lana Hope

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Lana Hope’s blog Wide Open Ground. It was originally published on March 4, 2013.

If you know much about homeschool stereotypes, after the jumpers, the 15 passenger vans, and Young Earth Creation textbooks definitely comes farming and cooking from scratch.

That, my friends, was my family.

We did not live in the country (rather a small town), but I grew up with acres of woods. We also had a large garden, which meant waking up early during the summer to water and pick vegetables while trying to beat the Southern heat that would often rise above 100 degrees. Then in the afternoons we would shell beans and corn, cut and can the green beans, and take the cucumbers and can pickles. Then we would smash up hundreds of tomatoes by hand, and over the course of a summer, make a years supply of pizza, spaghetti, Italian, Mexican, and stewed tomato sauces, which were canned by the 100s of jars.

In the fall we canned deer meet. As a little girl, deer were hung up on our back porch and then were skinned, ground up, and finally canned, except for what was made into sausage and steak (which was frozen).  At thanksgiving Mom would buy as many cheap turkeys as she could find, and then we would can them too.

As you can imagine, the end hall, the bathrooms, and under every stinkin’ bed was…. jars, and in the summer, tomatoes were in every bedroom window waiting to fully ripen.

We froze the lima beans, blueberries, and strawberries, and chickens. We also made all our own breads, pizza crusts, all that also went in the freezer.

We also had “egg and milk run” at our house every Thursday. We did not supply the eggs or milk, but the fresh eggs and milk were delivered by the 2 gallon jars, and a good 100 of these were sold in our front yard every Thursday. I should add that the homeschool family who delivered the milk lived without any electricity; they were “practicing” for Y2K. As kids, we spent afternoons with them learning to make our own cheese and yogurt.

My whole  childhood was spent in the woods, dirty from top to bottom.

We built forts, made trails, played in the creeks, climbed trees, and swung on large vines. One of my friends lost her purity ring in our woods, and her dad was quite upset, but the question, of course, was: what acre was the ring on?

At a young age I was good at killing snakes. One day when I was about 10 or so I walked in garage barefooted, as we never seemed to wear shoes, and mom and her friend caught me grabbing a hoe. The mother, who had entrusted her very young children to us, freaked out a bit as I marched back in the woods with my hoe.  After about a 15 or 20 minute walk, I made it back to where my sister was holding up the troupes. I gave one of the boys the hoe and said, “get em in the head, boy.”

The snake was 3 feet.

Everyone, even the “rich” homeschool families and non-homeschool families from church were woods lovers like us. On homeschool park days (each Friday afternoon) when I was elementary age, my friends and I would bring the crawfish we had found that week in our home creeks and show them off. Then we’d roll up our pants (no one wore skirts to park day) with our nets and spend the next three hours searching for crawfish and catching tad poles.

Imagine my shock when, as an adult I walked in a mansion in the middle of a large city that belonged to a homeschool family of 11 children.

I just stared at their house. Even with 11 kids, some of the kids even had their own room, and no one roomed with more than 1 other sibling. They had several bathrooms, four or more multipurpose rooms, and only a small backyard. The children all had nice, clean, nonsterotypical clothes. Their refrigerator was full of modern foods, such as dips and dressings and cheeses and store bought milk and eggs.

I just stared, wondering how they afforded it.

Okay, I admit it. Rural living is a blast. I still get a homey feeling when I go to my parents and look in their freezer. Three years ago I went home to find my little sister’s dead turtle in the freezer (in the freezer!). Another day a deer head. And just this year, when I first got back from Asia, I found an entire shelf of fresh frozen milk! Mom said, “It freezes fine. Just make the butter first.”

One never knows.

Did you grow up in the city or country? Do share all your wonderful stories with me!

4 comments

  • I was born in an urban area but spent most of my youth living in a medium size town. When I encountered rural life and culture as a young adult, I got a serious dose of culture shock.

  • I was a rural homeschooler too though we only grew a garden and berry patch and ran a roadside produce stand. We didn’t venture into the livestock side of farming. My parents were both from farming backgrounds so our small scale farming had more to do with family heritage than homeschooling. I loved my childhood and hope to give at least a taste of that to my own children.

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  • Memories! I grew up on acres and acres of woodland and fields, too. And my parents kinda got into the whole Y2K thing. We had chickens and milk goats for several years. My whole family on both sides are mountain/country folk, so the deer hunting and whatnot were normal. The goats and chickens were a little out there, but a good experience. 🙂 I really miss the rural life, even from my little small town where I live now.

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