I smile at the covers of home/garden/country magazines nowadays. Peaceful landscaped ponds, perfectly manicured pastures w/ beauitiful fences, cute little piglet faces, fresh cut fruit in a crystal bowl on the kitchen counter... there is so much work behind the photos; they're deceptive. Our nicest neighbors apparently waited too long to retire into their idyllic life. Health problems are forcing them to move this week after only two years on their acreage. Too much maintenance for his heart condition and her arthritis. It seems peaceful from the outside but living here, one gets to know the hardships- too many to list. I have a good friend that tried a more self-reliant idyllic life than we have. She stuck with it for two years. Has beautiful stories to tell but in the end the hardship was overwhelming. This month we celebrated three years in the "sticks." It has taken us this long just to get a feel for the place and our capacities. We are still learning - everyday is a learning experience. Sometimes the learning curve can really get me down but most times it is enough to understand and handle. I'm reaching a point through serious consideration that might be irreversible. That this is it and I can't go back. How on Earth will I be with nosey or loud neighbors again, supermarket eggs, city water ??? What are your thoughts?