How we moved to the country |

How we moved to the country

Inquiring minds would like to know: Have we always lived in Nevada County?

As of this July, it has been 16 years since my family and I moved to the Sierra Nevada foothills from Southern California. Reflecting back, I believe it was the TV mini-series “Lonesome Dove” that influenced my husband’s desire to move to the country. From the moment the TV mini-series ended, “Green Acres” became his favorite show. He started singing, “Green acres is the place to be. Farm livin’ is the life for me.” I should have caught on, but I didn’t.

Then the chickens came – a whole dozen! I thought he’d break, but he didn’t.

Then I noticed that his shoulder-length hair became shorter, and his O.P. shorts turned into Wrangler jeans. Overnight my surfing husband turned into Eddie Albert.

Now that I look back, I should have done what all farmers do – I should have taken him behind our chicken coup and shot him! I could have said he broke his leg and was of no use to me anymore. I’m sure that would have held up in court.

Why Nevada County?

The first time I drove up Highway 49, I felt I had never been any place so beautiful. Green grass, rolling hills, fresh air and friendly faces are what I first experienced when I arrived in town. I stopped at a gas station where attendants filled up my car and washed my windows with a friendly smile. (Art’s Cedar Ridge Gas Station, located off of Highway 174.) When I opened up The Union newspaper, I was amazed by all the community events that were written about.

I remember going to an event at the Nevada County Fair and thinking, the whole town must be here! I also remember taking a walk early one evening and hearing only crickets! I smiled, knowing that this is where I wanted to live and raise my children.

Last, but not least, I can’t forget all the animals that “we,” who live in this county, get to enjoy. Cows, chickens, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, and of course, the lovely deer that run across the road, right in front of us, for all of our viewing convenience!

I also remember the day that my husband said, “Gina, I want to move to the country and build a house!” I smiled. He continued: “We’ll buy a small trailer and live in it while I’m building. What do you think?” I seriously could have been arrested for what I was thinking. He said, “Real men build houses.” I said, “No, real men get divorced!” Needless to say, when we arrived in Nevada County, we did not build a home, but purchased one.

Our home was supposed to be completed in three months. We rented an apartment, and when the time came to move to our new home, we were notified that it was ready but was just lacking a few things – electricity, water and septic.

“Not a problem,” we said. We went to Kmart and purchased oil lamps, bought water, and had a lovely outhouse delivered to our carport. That same week I met my first king snake on our porch. That kept me indoors until my husband came home, AND a few days later, I tried to rescue the first deer that I saw hit by a car! The car happened to be owned by me!

Looking back on the day we moved to Nevada County as a family was much like when families packed their wagons and moved west. All the stories and adventures that we had with just “our family” could not have occurred had my husband not been willing to take a chance.

I believe mothers in Nevada County are much like mothers were 150 years ago.

The independence they must have felt. Bringing only what their wagons could carry and enough food to get them to their destination was much like us filling our U-Hauls with our favorite possessions and placing enough food in our coolers to get us to the next exit that housed a Carl’s Jr.

I’m not the same mother I was when I first arrived in Nevada County 16 years ago. I now know that I can raise the pig in the barn and fry it up in the pan! I no longer hide from snakes but meet them with my shovel. And, if “I” had to build a house, “I” could.

So, I imagine that living in Nevada County for mothers today is much the same as it was 150 years ago. The only difference is, we live longer.



Gina Gippner is a Penn Valley resident and mother of three. She can be reached via e-mail at or computer chat at

Her column appears every other Tuesday, alternating with Mike Drummond’s column from Clear Creek Ranch.

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