Country Folks Can Survive

Well, COVID-19 has officially hit Guadalupe County. Whatever we may think of the social distancing measures being put into place by businesses and governing officials in our area, they are here now, a reality to be dealt with. Of course we want to be prudent, and do what we can to help the elderly and the immunocompromised among us.

Amid the uncertainty and the bleak goings-on that we’re all well aware of, there is much to be thankful for. The H-E-B where I usually shop may be running low on some items I’d like to buy, but they appear to be working hard to restock. The available pickup dates for Curbside service are a few days out from when I order, but Curbside is still being offered, and encouraged, with the usual $4.95 fee being waived. The husband’s business has slowed down, but that gives him a chance to catch up on some work around the house. Last week he went out and got some baby chicks from the feed store. The chicken coop is mostly built, and a real beauty it is, too; all it needs is some decking on the porch and a little ramp for the chickens to run up. In the meantime, the chicks are residing in a high-sided watering trough in a corner of our living room, with a lovely brass lamp for warmth and ambiance.

A few weeks back, the husband planted two persimmon trees in the fenced area behind the yard where the chicken coop is already standing. Chickens and fruit trees are a natural combination, and we’ve planned for years now to have an orchard of native or hardy-to-Texas varieties out there. The chickens will eat bugs; the trees will provide cover and shade.

The persimmon trees didn’t look like much at first, just a couple of sticks in the ground. But today one of them started putting out some tiny baby buds.

I stay home so much that my daily routine hasn’t changed much. I spend most mornings in my quiet study with one or more dogs, drinking hot tea and working on the new book, or going over edits for Hill Country Secret, which is still on track to be released in September. I take a walk, do a little strength training. Afternoons are for housework, errands, special projects, and clerical work, and evenings I cook dinner and relax with the husband.

I’m concerned about the health and well-being of family and friends, and about the economic repercussions of all the social distancing. But I’ve got plenty to do and am not at loose ends enough to brood. Work and prayer are good antidotes to worry.

Like many country folks, we stay well stocked on essentials in case we aren’t able to go to town, and we aren’t suffering shortages of anything vital so far. But today we did hit a glitch. Early this morning, we lost water at our taps. I put on my Ropers and went out to the well pump armed with an old plastic toothbrush. One of the weirder aspects of rural life in our part of the country is that fire ants sometimes crawl into the electric workings of the well pump, get themselves electrocuted, and then gum up the little contact thingies. Every so often I have to go out there and brush their little anty bodies away. Usually there’s a a spark and a click and a lovely gushing sound as the tank starts filling again.

But not today.

The husband took a look and said something inside the electric box appears separated. I’m no electrician, but that can’t be good.

The well guy can’t come out until Monday. In the meantime, we’re not bad off. We’ve got plenty of water in the gravity-fed filter, and if necessary we can drive over and get water from my in-laws’ place.

In the meantime, the husband went out in search of more fruit trees. While he was away, I thought why not see if I could make my own hand sanitizer, and maybe some arnica ointment. I did a little internet research and found some recipes. Serendipitously enough, I already had the ingredients on hand, but both the recipes called for sterilizing jars and utensils, so I figured I’d have to wait until I had running water again.

Just some odds and ends I had lying around.

The husband returned with eight new fruit trees: loquats, pomegranates, lemons, and limes (or possibly pineapple guavas, which apparently look a lot like lime trees when they don’t have fruit on them).

That’s the chicken coop in the background.

By now, it was raining. Inspired, I put my three stock pots out on the porch steps beneath the eaves of the metal roof. Within a short time I had enough to fill one of the pots. I used some of the rainwater to sterilize the jars and made the hand sanitizer. The arnica salve is still in the infusion stage. And the other two stock pots are back outside, collecting more rainwater.

In a little while, I’ll start some chicken and rice for dinner and finalize my next H-E-B order for ourselves and my in-laws. Tomorrow I’ll join my church family via YouTube for worship. Weather’s supposed to clear up, so maybe I’ll walk down the road a couple of miles to check in on the neighbors. The man has been in this area since my husband was a child; he knew my husband’s grandfather. He stopped and chatted with me the other day as I was taking my walk. I had two dogs with me, and he had one in his truck. I wish now that we’d thought to exchange contact information while we were at it, but things had not escalated so much then.

Stay well, all y’all.

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  1. A lucky stumble! Not only finding your blog, but also being reminded that there’s a box labeled “soap making” in the storeroom. Leftover from one of the daughters. Good luck with the well!


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