So here we are, on a 2/3 acre parcel of land, surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland. We haven’t heard a siren. When someone drives down our road, it’s an event. We’ve seen deer and I’m sure we’ll see other critters in time. Our nearest neighbour isn’t near at all, so we have this place wired (and wireless) for monitoring and security.
The quiet is lovely. After living on such a busy street in London for so long, we’re savouring the silence. But country living has its challenges. There are things you should know before deciding that country life is for you. These aren’t complaints, mind you, but realities. Here are the big three.
Challenge #1: The outdoor furnace!
Everything was upgraded before the 1870 home was severed from the farm just a few years ago. Electrical, plumbing, etc are all new and up to code. At some point, renovators lifted the house in order to install a concrete-block basement. It’s wonderful to have a new dishwasher in such an old structure. But the furnace might make some people run in horror.
For starters, it’s outside! Before we got this place I quizzed Derek about his true desire to go out in the worst of winter to stoke the wood-burning furnace. It’s an efficient system and it’s budget-friendly. I know others who have this type of heating system. But it’s certainly not for everybody. You need delivery of wood, to stack that wood and to stoke the fire at least once a day. It’s a deep inferno that heats water pumped around it, sends the water underground back to the house and warms the air as well as the hot water if you like.
If the thought of pulling on a parka during a winter storm and trundling out to stoke a fire is about the least fun thing you can muster, I’m with you! But Derek swears he’s up to the task. Also, there’s a propane backup. If the temp falls to a certain level, the propane kicks in and keeps us from forming icicles on our chins. We could easily decide to go propane-only. It’s awfully Little-House-on-the-Prairie compared to city life! But it’s not uncommon in the country. Google it and you’ll see.
Challenge #2: Bugs.
Flies, yellow jackets, wasps, creepy crawly things; we’ve seen them all. We had the house sprayed for invaders and now the only ones that turn up are deceased! But this is another common country issue. Our bug guy promises we will be bug-free. He’s done this before at countless country homes.
Before you horrify me with stories of bug colonies surrounding old windows – or whatever – let me assure you, that’s not the case. The windows are all new. Critters simply love wide open spaces and once they get a foothold – or a wing-hold – it takes effort to remove them. Every country-living person I’ve talked to has dealt with this issue. It’s been less than pleasant and might have sent you running for a downtown condo. Believe me, it crossed my mind! But it’s better now.
Challenge #3: Access to stuff.
There’s no corner store. The nearest grocery store is about 15 minutes away. Nearest gas, about 10 minutes. We haven’t quite got the hang of planning well and getting everything we need while we’re “in town”.
We did invest in a chest freezer so we can stock up on things. Derek drinks a lot of milk; fortunately, it freezes in bags. But that’s not helpful if you forget to pick some up! So, we’re working on it.
The trade-offs are definitely worth it. For us, who work from home, this setting is darn near ideal. Seeing Derek grinning widely in his new overalls, riding his tractor to his garage, makes the rest all worthwhile.