We’ve all seen the pictures on social media of girls getting their country on. Wearing camouflage and $200 rubber boots sitting a top an ATV (or quad) drinking a beer. Or drinking a beer, wearing camouflage sitting in front of a tree, presumably camping. Now I’m not saying these aren’t country girls, I’m not saying they are, even if there was country music playing in the background while the picture was snapped, but I have my doubts.
So am I a country girl, well sort of, in some ways, but probably not. Did I grow up in the country? sort of, but my family generally did not participate in such affairs. Going camping involved a 40 ft motor home and seeing trees involved getting into an SUV. We did not ATV, our wood was delivered cut and split, no hiking, no biking and definitely no fishing. But I did go on to get some country girl street, maybe trail cred. On my own I became a pretty damn good mountain biker holding my own with the boys at races. I got some skills doing jumps, drops and even tacoed more than one wheel, and I’ve got the scars to prove it. But my fiancé’s kids grew up 5 km down the road from where I did, but boy were they country!
Growing up Richard’s family had a wood business, a deer camp, hunted, fished and his dad was ex army. He was a single dad and boy his kids were country, sometimes uncomfortably so. One of the first times I met them they were all piled into the neighbour’s Argo some of them hanging of the back mostly upside down. In case you’re not familiar with Argos, and why would you be really, it’s an amphibious 8 wheeled off road vehicle that seats about 2.5 people and there are four of them. Ages 7-11. The kids took me to check their rabbit snares, taught me to skin those rabbits, gut and cook them, catch and clean fish, shovel gravel, cook salt fish and kick start a dirt bike. That’s to say nothing of their dad. And literally none of them were impressed with my outdoor skills including the 7 year old. To this day I would trust any of their instincts over mine in a survival situation including the 19 year old girl who was and is daddy’s princess and rightfully so!
So am I a country girl? On one hand I dress up and wear makeup pretty much every day, I have a smart inside job, I own 0 camouflage objects pink or otherwise, have rubber boots with a heel, I don’t drink beer and if I’m outdoors in the middle of the night please call search and rescue. But.. I also bike, run and hike in the woods, can be found in hunter’s orange, have 2 other pairs of real rubber boots, one with a steel toe and am the go to extra roofer for most of each summer. I have those pictures on social media too posed on an off road truck (mine BTW) and a lot of my iPod is country from George Jones to Carrie Underwood but none of that makes me a country girl. So why am I writing this? Well as Gretchen Wilson would say in recognition of all of my Redneck women who know what it really means to be a country girl. It means being self sufficient in a man’s realm, confidant in your skills to get shit done and throwing off your heels every once and a while for some dirty simple fun. Can I get. a Hell Yeah! But also for those that see no fun or benefit in revelling in your redneck side. Whether or not I’m an official country girl or not you ladies are missing out!
I’m encouraging you to be a country girl because it’s a lot nicer than saying don’t be a freaking princess! Don’t look down your nose at anything, let alone anyone. All knowledge and or skills are good to have regardless of your level of mastery. They may just come in handy, save the day or impress someone. Hell even trying might impress someone! I am very against the princess mentality. That doesn’t mean no nice nails, no make up and baggy mom jeans. But rather having to drive a certain car, live in a pretty house and having things handed to you and done for you. And this is a STRONG opinion of mine, actually I’m realizing I can be pretty judgemental about it.
But I probably get a pass on this one and here’s why. My mom was by no means a princess and since my dad had a heart condition she, and we, did a lot of the heavy lifting, literally. I mean that woman pickaxed, shovel dirt, stacked wood, did the hand mowing, painted the house inside and out and brought home the bacon. Well dad literally brought home the bacon as he did the grocery shopping, lawn tractor, cooked and took early retirement. And then he died when I was 14 and my sister was 12, mom was 43. Even with all of the stuff she took on and it was a lot, she was overwhelmed. She wasn’t prepared for the rental property, contractors, simple home repairs and that big old tractor brought her to tears on several occasions. My mom and I don’t always agree on things but I know she’d agree on this, I really stepped up. She eventually figured it out, sold the rental I fixed the broken stuff, we got a smaller tractor and well renovating turned out to be quite the addiction. But in the meantime she and we really struggled and going into it she did more than any other mom I knew. But that in short is why I don’t do princess. That and this is way more fun!
It’s like chopping wood, yes with an axe. Our wood is free for the most part we end up with trees that Richard gets paid to cut down. So not only are we not paying $400 a chord we get paid to take it home. But what it isn’t is split. Some years we’ve rented the splitter other years it gets split by hand. Every year there is at least a chord of overflow to be hand split, last year I split all four chord. When I first started it would take me 16 hours to split the wood we needed for 24 hours, now I do a week’s worth in about 90 minuets, plus my yoga push-ups kick ass. When I first started I mostly missed plus I earned the nickname axe murderer for the number of axes I broke. Sure it took me two and a half years to get to that point, 5 axes and 1 sledgehammer and Richard can still go 5 times as fast but I’m happy I’ve mastered the skill. It’s like therapy, I enjoy it and it makes me feel powerful, however Richard is quick to remind me being armed tends to do that to people.
So here’s my opportunity to go on about my country girl skills I have and show some degree of skill and toughness by:
-Having mad offloading skills (bike and truck)
-Completing dirty century rides and triathlons
-Cleaning fish and game (rabbits, pheasants and deer)
-Roofing and other construction related skills
-Chopping many, many chord of wood
-Trapping and disposing of rodents
-I can kick your ass, (blue belt) maybe
-Riding a GT snow-racer on a piece of foam insulation behind a speed boat, Didn’t turn out to be a great life choice by the way 10 out of 10 don’t recommend.
-Driven many miles on an ATV, dirt bike and a pick-up and some in an ARGO both on land and in a lake
I’m so glad that Richard and his family came into my life and expanded my horizons. This past fall (December) Richard, his son and I were out in the speed boat doing some mooring work and Richard’s son pulled the plug from the hull once we were at speed to empty out the rest of the water that would otherwise get my feet wet. (Not a skill I have BTW) and I remarked that there were not two other people I would trust more to save my life. However it was only a moment later that I followed that up with but you two would probably be the ones to get me into that situation in the first place. Which they both seemed oddly proud of. It made me think of all of the adventures we’d had together over the years and ALL of the times they went sideways. We have done some amazing things together and without them and jumping in with both feet I would have missed out. When anything happened and someone was hurt, upset or the unforeseen happened everyone stepped in and we all got through it. In fact that only added to the adventure sometimes.
So male, female or otherwise jump in with both feet! Let go of the “I don’t do that,” or I can’t”,” before you even try. You never know where life will end up taking you and it’s nice to have some practice before you get there! PS I just found out about ladies chainsaw camp next summer, stay tuned!