The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Elizabeth Shipstead
Rural Sisterhood 

New Folks - Chickens


February 28, 2018

A couple weeks ago I saw a post on the Glasgow yard sale Facebook group that made me really sad. A gal had recently moved into town and posted asking about whether or not backyard chickens were allowed inside city limits. Many of the responding comments were less than kind or welcoming.

I know something about coming into a new area as I moved from California to Montana. Yep! You read that right! I came from California. The horror. Lol

It was January 2005 and my dad drove to Montana with me in my little blue Toyota station wagon, complete with California plates and big Montana dreams. I had no idea what I was getting into, from the weather to the dirty looks that I got while out driving.

I even developed a specific answer for “So where are you from originally?" Thankfully people wouldn’t ask personal questions until they’d gotten to know me just a little bit and knew that I was friendly. I always said, “I’m from a little town named Mount Shasta, about 45 minutes south of the Oregon border…In California.” I never led with “I’m from California.” My response was frequently followed by the reaction, “Oh you’re one of those Californians!” I’d always respond chuckling with something along the lines of “I’m from California, but don’t worry, I’m not one of THOSE Californians!” We’d both laugh and eventually they’d decide I was pretty nice and “ok.”

It’s hard enough to move into a new town, without people looking sideways at you, wondering if you have a hidden agenda, or assuming that you’re here to “rock the boat.”

I think small towns are the most difficult to move into, because residents frequently go back generations. Even if residents don’t have family history in the town, they usually have friends within the “in crowd” or have a “second cousin’s, third uncle, twice removed” type family situation.

Here in Glasgow, we have now been nationally noted to be the “middle of nowhere,” so we can put aside the fear that too many outsiders will move in. We also know that winter weeds out many, as it takes a special person to make it through.

I understand that people are cautious when new folks move into town. In Montana we have the history of “out-of-staters” moving in, driving up land prices, taking over and changing things. I understand the importance of family history and legacy, especially when it comes to land and agriculture.

So the question becomes, how can we be friendly and considerate towards new folks without risk being walked all over?

I think one of the first things that we can do is share with them the beauty of our small communities. Both the physical beauty and the beauty of the people who live here. Befriend new folks. Help them to catch the vision, the history, and the legacy of small rural towns, so that they can help it continue.

So, the next time an “outsider” moves in and presents an idea, let’s pull them closer, connect with them, even when we disagree. Who knows, maybe in doing so, we’ll at least gain another advocate for rural towns and people in Montana, no matter if they stay or leave!


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