The view from my dog kennel. Chestnut Mountain is in the background. The power lines will come just beyond the graveyard (on the far right) and through where the trees (center and left) are now.
My husband and I moved to the country seven years ago. For us, country living—despite the occasional poisonous snake or redneck who can’t comprehend the meaning of “No Trespassing”—allows us to live better and cheaper than city living did.
In the Southwest Roanoke County suburb where we lived for 27 years in a 7-room house on a half-acre sloping lot on a heavily traveled street, we paid for water and sewer, electricity, phone, natural gas (heat and hot water), and garbage pick-up.
We were only two miles from a post office but almost always had to stand in long lines whenever we sent a package. We were two miles from two grocery stores, so we frequently drove out to get just an item or two. Usually we had to stand in line with lots of others who also drove out for an item or two. Traffic at times was heavy; backing out of our driveway was sometimes a challenge.
Ah, but we were “close to everything.” For example, seven drug stores and at least five fast food places were within a three-mile radius of us. Mainly, though, we were close to noise and pollution. Many people in our neighborhood were heavily into lawn care. Power mowers roared daily. Lawn care companies periodically “treated” the neighbors’ lawns with toxic chemicals. If I wanted to walk, my options were the busy road or the “greenway” (i.e., narrow strip of asphalt) at a nearby park.
Here, we live in an 11-room house on over 4 acres. Our property taxes are cheaper than what we paid in Roanoke. Our utility expenses are substantially cheaper—water comes from our well and the only monthly utility bills we pay are for phone, Internet (dial-up) and electricity. For back-up heating/cooking, we have a propane tank that we filled a couple of years ago but rarely use. We’ve had the septic tank pumped once since we’ve been here. We don’t watch much TV, but the antenna on our house brings in at least ten channels clearly. Having my horses at home costs less than a fifth of I used to pay for boarding them. Heavy traffic here means that maybe 25 cars go by within an hour. We’re still two miles from a post office, but everybody there knows our name and we never have to stand in line. Our closest neighbors are cows.
Roanoke County law limited us to two dogs (for years, though, we kept an illegal beagle). Here, I have five dogs in my kennel—the mixed retriever, Catahoula, mixed sheltie, and beagle were all off-road adoptions. The border collie is the only one I actually bought. Plus I have six cats on the property (three of them working cats). And the two mares.
When we lived in Roanoke, a drive to one of our farms took an hour or more. Now, one is just a mile down the road; another is three miles away. On a clear day, we can see our Turkeycock Mountain acreage—10 or so miles away—from our deck. From my study in Roanoke, I saw the houses across the street. From my study here, I look over the field and trees across the road to see the Peaks of Otter (about 30 miles in the distance).
The view is glorious: mountains in all directions. From the deck, where I sometimes sit and read the morning paper, I can look into the cow pasture across the road. When I go to their kennel to feed my dogs, I have a spectacular view of Chestnut Mountain. From the horses’ field on a clear day, I can see Buffalo Mountain in Floyd.
But all that will soon change.
By next year, a 138 KB power line with steel poles from 75 to 100 feet high will cut a swath of destruction through the cow pasture. Then it will cross the road where it will come between me and the mountain views I love. It’ll be about 500 feet from our property line.
Right now I can’t look at everything hard enough. I want to store up memories of how beautiful and pastoral the area is before the beauty vanishes beneath the towers and lines.
Nothing good lasts forever.