Featured Journal

Yep – we have running water. Cars, too!

Written by Leslie Means

There’s something about a girl and her farm roots.  There’s a reason why people say that phrase. You know the one.  You can take the girl out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.  Or was it Texas?  I never really know how it goes.  But I do get the drift.  I know you do, too.

For me that sentence means home will always be a farm in south central Nebraska.  It’s the one that sits on the corner with the big red barn.  It’s been in our family since 1901. 

Yeah.  That one.  It’s special.  And I’ve spent most my life defending it.

In 7th grade, I realized not all people understood my tiny corner of the world.  I was on a school trip to Washington DC.   I told a couple boys that I was from Nebraska, they looked at me, laughed and proceeded to ask if I “milked my chickens” and if I “had running water.”

The hairs stood up on the back of my neck.  I wasn’t thrilled with their response. 

I’ve defended small town farm life in college, during my stint in Texas and even with good friends.  Most mean no harm – they likely want to get me worked up – but it’s been a pretty strong passion of mine for a long time.  There’s something about this way of life that I want to explain to the rest of the world.  I want to eliminate the stereotype – or at least educate others on what it really means to be a farm girl.

It came up last week, those hairs on the back of my neck, after I was asked a very serious question from a naïve, but sweet woman.  While I’m use to these questions from out of state friends, I’m always caught off guard when it comes from someone within the Nebraska border.    

She introduced herself to me by stating she was from Omaha.  She knew I was from Nebraska and that I had lived here for a while.  I nodded my head and expected the conversation to continue.  But before she went on, she paused – looked me straight in the eye and said, “You’ve been there.  Right?  Omaha?”

It was 7th grade all over again.

I smiled, gave her an interesting look and the conversation continued.  Unfortunately for her, I stopped listening to the words coming from her mouth.  I was frustrated with her assumption.  You know the one.  The – oh you live in the middle of Nebraska so you probably don’t understand much about life – thought.  I am 3 hours away, after all – and live in a lowly town of only 30,000 people.  Surely I’ve never made my way off the land long enough to venture into the big city.  I have to stay back with the kids and pump their water and make sure there’s enough firewood to say warm.

See where I’m going with this? 

I know I’m sensitive about this issue.  Many people have asked me – Leslie, why do you care so much?  So what if people don’t understand.  Let me explain.

When you question my way of life, I’m offended. Yes, I had 34 people in my graduating class, didn’t step foot in a Gap until Jr. High School and even (gasp!) grew up without air conditioning.  But through the hot days and fashion-less nights, I learned a great deal about this life.

Tradition, hard work, dedication, kindness, friendship, values, simplicity, faith and beauty are just a few words I use to describe these parts.  You have an incredibly cool sky line – but have you seen our sunsets?  Did you know a long walk on a country road in the fall can change your life?  Have you ever had a rooster wake you up?

Me either.  He always crowed at the wrong time of day.

This may come as a shock to you, but my husband and I actually choose to live here.  We had many big city opportunities, but decided to stay (or, come back actually), to teach our girls the same values we were taught.  And hope – that wherever this big world takes them, they will always remember their roots.    

If you love your home – like I love mine, I’m sure these words sound familiar.  I bet you didn’t realize we had so much in common.  Whether you grow up on a farm in Nebraska – or a big city with a fancy skyline – roots run deep. 

P.S. to answer your question, yes – I have been to Omaha.  But it took me a while to get there.  The wheels fell off of the wagon and the Oxen had to stop so many times to rest.  I was afraid our whole family would get dysentery, but thankfully we arrived just in time to purchase materials from your fine shops. 

Too much?  I’ll quit while I’m ahead. 

 swing1

About the author

Leslie Means

Leslie is the co-founder and owner of Her View From Home.com. She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well.

She is married to a very patient man. Together they have two pretty fantastic little girls ages 8 and 6 and one little dude born March 2017!

When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.

18 Comments

  • After I moved to Omaha as an adult it always amazed me how many people from here have no clue what happens in the rest of their state (with the exception of Lincoln). When I would tell people I grew up in Kearney I often would get, “so you’re from way out west” (if they had even heard of Kearney). No, just central Nebraska. There’s a lot more of the state past Kearney. 😉

  • Amen!! People are from all walks of life and many places, its always best to ask intelligent questions and learn about a place and person before making assumption. I would never go to a major city and ask a resident, “Oh you live here? This place is so blah and blah” or ask ignorant questions like if “they have ever been mugged” or if they ever “rode a subway before”.

  • I clicked this Pin because my husband was born and raised in Nebraska and I have always been fascinated with his stories. I was born, raised, and have never left the South. I want to move to Nebraska to be closer to his family, but I don’t know where to look to end up where I want to be. Judging by this post… I need to be right in the middle.

  • Oh, this is wonderful. I was born and raised on a farm in western Nebraska (near Scottsbluff) and I just love how people assume you’re an uneducated hick. I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything. Oh, those long summer nights, the sled rides on the county roads in the winter, the beautiful sunsets…it was gorgeous and wonderful and I wish I had appreciated it more at the time instead of just wanting to “escape.” Strangely enough, I have lived in Nebraska my entire life, but call Lincoln my home now. Thankfully, my brother still lives on the farm where we grew up – he is the fourth generation to farm it. 🙂

  • I know the feeling. I, too, am from Nebraska. I tell people it’s the town of 1,000 people. My graduating class was the largest my school had see in 10 years at 26. I live in Omaha now. The culture shock was huge. I remember chatting online and mentioning that I was from NE. The person asked if we had electricity. O.o… Nope. The hamsters in the basement are running their little paws off so I can chat with you. Idiots. Anywhoo… I get a little worked up myself. I also get really excited when people have heard of my hometown. 😛

    • Ha ha – the hamsters are in the basement. I like that. I just had someone from Lincoln tell a friend I am from “Western” Nebraska. ( I live in Kearney.) I just smile, now. I mean technically it IS west of Lincoln but, you know. 😉 Central Nebraska. Central. It’s a thing, too.

  • Stumbled across this today and I can relate 100%. I’m from a small town along I-80. I live in Omaha and will continue to in the future because of my job but we are looking to buy a house in the country so I can raise my kids the right way. Good for you on this article.

  • Love this. I have lived in Atlanta for 13 years but I was born and raised in Lincoln, NE. I get those same types of ignorant questions and responses still to this day. First they are surprised that I am a Black woman from NE, and next they assume I know nothing about culture, fashion, music, or pretty much anything cool or interesting. Then the biggest insult (but really a testament to their ignorance) is asking me is NE a state or a city. And where is it on the map. Really??!! So very frustrating and obnoxious. I totally can relate to the struggle of being a proud mid-west girl.