The Top Differences Between a City Home and a Rural Farm

In City, Farm by Alastair OngLeave a Comment

When you live in a cosmopolitan city like New York City you don’t think about things that you need to think about when living in a rural setting.  When looking for a home outside of the city, I did not even know what I did not know.  Having settled in I am quickly learning what I did not know.

Top Differences Between a City Home and Farm Life

Cooking Fuel.  In NYC, we had gas stoves.  On the farm, cooking is done with electricity.  I grew up with electric stoves (the old kind where a downloadcoil would get red hot).  I thought I would miss cooking with gas.  Our stove in our new home, however has this very sleek glass top that heats very quickly.  Additional bonus is that it super easy to clean.  I am considering changing to an induction cooktop as I understand it is very efficient and heats faster than a gas stove.

Water:  H2O is not something you ever think about in NYC.  You turn on the faucet and clean (and good tasting) water comes out.  On our property, water is fed by a well.  No, its not what you’re thinking, we do not need to pump a handle a la Little House on the Prairie to get water.  water-faucet-628x363-TS-87177313There is an electric pump that feeds water to a very high tech ultraviolet carbon filter.  The water is fed by underground aquifers that are like underground rivers and supplemented by reservoirs.  If these aquifers get polluted, there goes our water supply.  From my time canvassing door-to-door for the Long Island Citizens Campaign, I know that New York City also used to get their water from aquifers, until the city overdeveloped and the aquifers were no longer viable.  Now, New York gets its water from reservoirs and aquifers from upstate New York not unlike the ones around me.

Heating oil.  After about a month living in the new house, the hot water stopped working.  I was in the shower, happily scrubbing and then suddenly the shower turned into a blast of icy cold water. Unless you’re living in an apartment owned by a slumlord, this never happens in New York.  I mean,  I did once live in an apartment, where if you flushed the toilet, the shower ran cold for a few seconds, but hot water and heat are carefully regulated in New York City. I learned that my house had run out of fuel.  My house runs on “heating oil” and has a tank in the garage that needs to be filled like a car. When we moved in, we got about 30 or 40 flyers in our mailbox advertising fuel.

I called one of the cheaper suppliers and a oil truck came out to our house uncapped a pipe in the front of the house, and brought what fuel truckresembled a fire hose and began filling our oil tank.  I learned that “heating oil” is really diesel gas.  The price for heating oil is about half that of diesel at a gas station.  If you are anything like me, you are asking, “why not get a diesel car and run it on home heating oil to reduce your transportation costs?”

The guy manning the fire hose filling my house launched into a chemical engineering lecture about the differences between the two fuels, about detergents in diesel gas meant to optimize car engine performance.  Then as it appeared that he was about to tell me the dangers of using home heating oil in a car, he interrupted himself said, “you know, its really the same sh*t, I’ve been putting it in my pickup truck for ages now and it runs exactly like it should.”

He did say that home heating oil is dyed red to indicate that this diesel fuel had not been taxed by the transportation agencies and if a trucker was caught using home heating oil, that the fine was $400 per gallon of tank capacity. The fine is not worth the savings, and this is why home heating oil is not used commercially.  Note to file, next vehicle is going to be a bio-diesel wagon, which will be primed with home heating oil.  If you are particularly knowledgeable about the chemical composition of fuels, I’d appreciate a comment about the potential dangers of using home heating oil in a car.

Cable providers/Internet.  In NYC, you are largely in the world of Time Warner Cable.  Verizon Fios and its super fast fiber optic technology is gaining ground, but you can always opt for DSL.  In Easton, there is only one cable provider – Optimum (a division of Cablevision).   We have an extremely fast internet package (100 MB down/50 MB up) but the bundled cable package for television was obscenely expensive.  We are considering Direct TV which uses a satellite dish to beam television to our homes.

Okay, now the biggie – Cell Reception.  When in NYC, you can have any of dozen or so cell providers that run on the networks of AT&T, Verizon, T-Moble, or Sprint and they ALL work.  In the town of Easton, the local government seem more concerned with preservation of a rural environment that business, commerce, safety and communication.   While I do think that there are cell towers in the town of Easton, I think the number of cell towers can be counted on one hand.  I like to tell folks on their first visit our house that the difference between a third world country and Easton is that third world countries always have cell service.

Easton Cell Towers

Cell towers at our home in Easton, Connecticut. Note the blank area on the bottom of the map. From

Check out the map above.  See the hole without any red dots?  Yeah, that’s my town.  I have investigated solutions to be able to get cell reception.  My first solution was to buy a WeBoost signal booster.  However, after correspondence with their fine customer service reps, it appears that a WeBoost is appropriate when you have one or two bars of signal and want to amplify it.  At my home, zero, nada, ziltch, no bars.  So then I started looking into femtocells.  Femtocells plug into your router and somehow with the magic of technology give a cell signal from a router signal.  The main problem with femtocells aside from the cost (~$500 each) is that they are tied to a specific network.  My wifey is on AT&T, I’m on Project Fi (T-Moble/Sprint) and my sister-in-law on Verizon.  Our temporary solution: calls via wifi.  We receive calls while at home on wifi.  Once we leave the range of our router, though, calls don’t get choppy, they get chopped.

Which brings me to the topic of landlines.  We are not currently aware of any provider that serves landlines in our area. I’d like to use a word my good friend Stephen always uses, “redonkolous.” I have written a blog that analyzed the cost effectiveness of different wifi calling devices and the cheapest was the now popular-via-informercial MagicJack.  Although it was cheap, the quality of the call sucked.  My wife was seriously considering paying an exorbitant monthly fee to have a Vonage-like call service bundled to our internet service.  Instead, I told her to try out a new device I had bought called the Obihai.  It is very easy to install and the device works with SIP systems and Google Voice.  A few minutes after setting it up, I tested it and was really pleasantly surprised at the call quality.  If you do not believe me, try calling me: 203-828-0288.  Really, call me.  Say hello.  Do it now. It gets lonely out here.


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