This blog chronicles the adventures of a hippy girl and her family who have moved to the country.

But first, a little background.

I was born in Peoria, Illinois, and grew up in a small town near Peoria. I went to the same grade school and high school as my dad and his brothers. One set of grandparents lived 5 minutes away by car, the other 5 minutes away by foot. I spent lots of time with cousins and aunts and uncles.

After high school, I went to college at Western Illinois University. I roomed with a friend from high school for a year, then met my husband. We lived together for another year and then moved to Philadelphia, where we went to school for another 6 years. He went to University of Pennsylvania and studied computer science, I went to Villanova and finished up my bachelor’s in sociology. Then I went to Temple University for graduate school and got my master’s in sociology. I then started the Ph.D. program for Mass Media and Communication. I did two more years of courses, before my husband and I moved to Phoenix. He got a great job offer and we really liked Phoenix when we went to visit. I never did do any more work for my Ph.D. OK, I did a little bit of work, but it was too hard to work on a degree long distance and I was not very motivated. I got a job teaching at a community college there and didn’t need a Ph.D.

Then we had kids. I still taught every now and then, but mostly stayed home with the kids. Aidan was born in September of 2003 and Moira in January of 2006.

Phoenix was an adventure. We lived there from May of 2000 to October of 2008. Our goals were changing, bit by bit. The suburban life was no longer a good fit for us for many reasons. We had planned to move back to Illinois at some point, but weren’t sure when. It was a 5 year plan for about 2 years. Then I said we had to at least make it a 3 year plan or it would never happen. So that was our plan in early 2008.

Then we came for a visit in June. When we got back to Phoenix, I was no longer sure why we were there. I mean, we had good friends and good neighbors, yes. But we had no family there. The neighbors we knew were good people, but there were so many and there was no real sense of community. Even after going to the same grocery store for 8 years and seeing the same people there, I know that some of them still did not recognize me.* Maybe that is unimportant for some people, but for me it is important. I like the feeling of community that you can really only get in a small town. We’ve only been in Illinois for about 4 months at this point, but we’ve already made connections to the community.

Also, there is something to be said for having family nearby. I know that it is both a curse and a blessing at times, but for 8 years, 5 of those years with kids, we had no family nearby. Since my husband and I both grew up spending lots of time with family, it was really important to us that our kids have that opportunity, too. Seeing their grandparents and great-grandparents twice a year, at most, was just not enough.

Then there are the environmental reasons for moving. Phoenix has the same problems that many big cities have: congestion, loss of green space, air pollution, and traffic. Then it also has some unique problems due to it being a desert and also a post-industrial city. Most of Phoenix is suburban, with small lots. Yes, there are large lots, but they are few and far between, not to mention pricey. So most of the lots are small and they have block walls to divide the properties (because a fence you can see through would offer absolutely no privacy). That, of course, contributes to the lack of community. But anyway, the point is that our small yard was not suitable for, say, having chickens (as if the Homeowner’s Association would have allowed chickens anyway!) garden big enough to really feed us, or even room for the kids to run around without bumping into each other.

Also, while Phoenicians often feel like there is plenty of water, there really isn’t. Or, if you look at it another way there is, but it is being taken away from other people and places, such as Mexico, and is shared with other growing, urban areas, such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I once read that the City of Phoenix did not encourage conservation during particular times because they wanted everyone to conserve water all the time. I can see the logic in that, but I can also see that it didn’t really work. Many people have grass, both summer and winter (they have to seed the yard and reseed in the winter with different grass varieties in order to have grass) and had to water, water, water to keep that grass growing. What a waste of water! And that’s water that is treated to be potable that is being used to water grass to make a yard pretty for your neighbors to look at. It’s ridiculous on so many levels. Potable water for grass? Ridiculous. Grass in the desert? Ridiculous. Making your yard pretty because you have neighbors that will complain and an HOA that will fine you if you don’t? Ridiculous.

Quite frankly, we were tired of that ridiculousness, the lack of family, the lack of community, the lack of privacy (despite the block walls). We were tired of the traffic and all the driving to go see friends, go to the park, go shopping, etc. Even if things were close, it was still a 10 minute drive if not longer. We were tired of the air pollution, the water waste, and the heat. OK, well I was tired of the heat by the time we left. It was freaking hot in October when we moved. The sun was blazing and I was just tired of it by then and ready to be in Illinois!

So, here we are. This blog is about life in the country, for three people who have spent the last 14 years in big cities and for two kids who had spent their entire lives in Phoenix. It’s been an adjustment, but the adventure is just beginning.


*The exception is Diane at Starbucks! She worked there when Aidan was born and still does. I think she is the only person who has worked at that particular Starbucks for that long.


16 Responses to “About”

  1. Why we moved to the country « A Hippy Girl in the Country Says:

    […] we moved to the country By hippygirl I updated the Aboutpage. I didn’t start out intending that page to be about why we moved, but that’s what […]

  2. Susan Says:

    Hi Jen, Your story sounds a lot like mine. I moved back home (literally) to the family farm a few years back. We’re in between Chambana and Bloomington-Normal.
    I also went to Western (for a year). Quit and worked for a bit and then got my degree from ISU. We have a son living in Tucson, and that is very different from central IL, for sure.

  3. hippygirl Says:

    Hey Susan! Glad to “see” you hear. I know we are on a couple of e-mail lists together. 🙂

    I loved Western, did you? I just had some really fabulous teachers here.

    We are sort of starting a family farm, I guess. I think it will be small. We are planning on renting out to a farmer who is going to pasture it out for cattle. I suppose we could do that ourselves, but I’m so not ready for that! I have to work up to that because it’s all new to us. So far it’s been great fun, though, and I can’t wait to start the garden!

  4. hippygirl Says:

    OH! And I meant to mention that I *think* Tucson is a bit more progressive than Phoenix, in terms of water usage and things like that. They are always pushing water conservation and from what I’ve read there isn’t a lot of grass there for that very reason. I also know there are several straw bale houses in Tucson, so it seems that the green building movement is stronger there. So it does have that going for it, but it is still the desert and can only sustain so many people!

    I wish Phoenix would learn that as all they (the politicians and business people) seem to talk about is how to grow! GROW?? It seems insane to me when the infrastructure already cannot catch up with the growth, in terms of schools and roads/public transit.

  5. Farm plans « A Hippy Girl in the Country Says:

    […] who grow organic corn and beans, which is primarily what is grown in Illinois. I mentioned to our neighborthat we were interested in renting it to someone who would do things organically, and that I had […]

  6. Susan Says:

    I liked the change, except it was 3 hours from home and I was a ‘young’ 17 year old. I decided that I needed to take a break from school after my freshman year, until I could get more serious about it.
    We’re building back the livestock piece of our family farm. When I was growing up here, we had cattle, horses and sheep. Then the fences went, along with the trees, and we’re back at square one again rebuilding fences and a chicken house.
    You’re on a good track…building good memories and experiences for your kids on your family farm. 🙂

  7. Too long without blogging « A Hippy Girl in the Country Says:

    […] Mama Cat has been around lately. She is most definitely pregnant and is hungry and mean to her first litter […]

  8. Kristi Says:

    I have a chicken question that you may or may not know the answer to!
    I have 4 buff orpingtons that I beleive are around 3-4 weeks old. One of them is a lot darker then the rest of them, she isn’t really buff like the others, she is brown, she also started getting feathers alot sooner than the others, so I guess my guestion is. Do all of your buffs look “buff” ? and What are the chances that this is infact a cockerel instead of a pullet?

    • hippygirl Says:

      Well, mine are New Hampshires but they seem to be a similar color to the pictures I’ve seen of Buff Orpingtons. I don’t know the answer to your question, but I can tell you that Chicken Joe, our cockerel, does have darker (redder) feathers than the pullets. His feathers also seem a bit more pointed at the end, whereas the pullets have feathers that look smoother at the ends. At this point he is also a little bit bigger than the pullets and his tail feathers are a little longer. His wattle and combs are bigger than 4 of the pullets, but one of the pullets is about the same. This is the pullet that Tim suspects might be a cockerel. If she is a he, then he doesn’t have darker feathers, so I’m not sure the darker feathers means anything! Chicken Joe didn’t get feathers sooner than the others, either. I think that could just be that some develop more quickly than others. Have you tried asking on the Backyard Chickens forums? The people there tend to be very helpful with things like that, especially if you have pictures. 🙂

      Here is a good site I found that might help you out, too: http://successwithpoultry.blogspot.com/2007/04/how-to-tell-sex-of-chicks.html. Hope that helps and let us know what you find out. I’m interested to see if I have two roosters or just one. I’m hoping for one, but we’ll see!

  9. Kristi Says:

    Well I have done some research and I believe that what I have is 3 buff orpingtons and 1…….something…….. she looks alot like your new hampshire pullets and I haven’t yet found another breed that looks similar to her. Henrrietta has redish brown feathers and she is starting to get black tips on her wings and tail feathers. The other 3 are all completely buff. Any Ideas????

    • hippygirl Says:

      I think you probably know about as much as I do, then. I would try to post on the Back Yard Chickens Forum and see what you can find out. Mine do have some darker, almost black feathers on their tails, so I suppose you could have a New Hampshire.

      Buffingtons do come in a variety of colors, right? So it also seems possible that they aren’t true bred and maybe you got one that is mixed with something else? Did you buy them at a farm supply store? Maybe someone messed up along the way and put a New Hampshire in or something. I really don’t know the answer to your question, so I’m only guessing. Could you post some pictures? Maybe someone else will have an idea.

  10. Kristi Says:

    I called the farm store where I purchased my orpingtons and they said that the only other breed they were selling was buff brahmas. So I should have just called the store in the first place! LOL but I did learn alot in all my searching. and thank you for your chicken blog…..my chicks are a few weeks behind yours and it gives me a little window as to what will happen next.

    • hippygirl Says:

      Well I’m glad you figured out the mystery! So you have a Buff Brahma and 3 Buff Orpingtons. Should be fun to see how they develop differently. 🙂

  11. Two roosters? « A Hippy Girl in the Country Says:

    […] By hippygirl Last week I got a question in the comments from Kristiwho was trying to figure out why one of her Buff Orpingtons looked so different. In trying to help […]

  12. Tina Cipolla Says:


    A childhood friend let me know about your blog (Craig Jacobs). I have been in Phoenix for 11 years and we are leaving on May 21 and moving to a rented 18 acre farm in a rural section of New Jersey. I am keeping a blog about our experiences, the first post went up yesterday. Since you are a good deal ahead of me in this very same venture, perhaps you can send some advice my way! I have put a link on my blog to your blog, and I will keep reading to see what might be coming my way! Always nice to have a trailblazer right in front of you!

    Before we made out final decision we were expanding our gardens and raising chickens in our yard in Phoenix. Finally, my husband got a job in NJ and we just decided to leave Phoenix altogether.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog. If you’d like to take a look at mine, you can find it here: http://cipollasgardens.blogspot.com/


    • hippygirl Says:

      I haven’t read much of your blog yet, but I will do so soon! I added a link and am glad to hear from you. I can’t wait to read about your adventures. 🙂 There is a blog I read, Antiquity Oaks, and she has been doing this for several years now. I hope to be where she is in about 10 years: making my own cheese, yogurt, and butter, having sheep and goats, chickens, turkeys, and cows, and maybe even a pig.

      Anyway, I can’t wait to read more of your blog. I just need to work in the garden first! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: