City Slicker to Farm Dweller – One Year Later Follow Up

In Farm by Alastair Ong1 Comment

FarmDweller is one year old [fireworks exploding]!

Actually, its really one and a quarter years old.  This post follows up on living in the country for one year and will track my first post of this blog to see if my initial predictions were correct.

What We Thought We Would Miss:

I can honestly say that we do not miss any of the five things that we thought we would miss.  The one thing that we do miss, however, is something that I did not list.  We used to live a block away from Ninth Avenue (International Food Avenue).  We miss the variety and quality of food from NYC.  In NYC, it is not about eating Thai Food or Turkish Food or Indonesian Food, but rather, which Thai, Turkish or Indonesian restaurant you want to eat at.  There is not only Italian food, but restaurants that specialize in Northern Italian or Southern Italian cuisine.  In Connecticut, there are a good selection of restaurants, especially in Bridgeport and Westport, but certainly not Northern/Southern Italian restaurants. Nor are there that many you can choose from.

And ratings are subjective -what is good for Connecticut folks, does not mean it is good.  I’ll never forget my first experience at the Old Bluebird Inn (one of the very few eating establishments in my town).  I was told by three or four people how good it was, particularly the breakfasts.  My first visit at 3:30 PM in the afternoon, I learned that it closed at 2PM.  2PM, are you kidding me?  My second visit, I took a bacon, egg and cheese on an everything bagel to go.  It is hard to mess up a breakfast sandwich.  It was not bad, but nothing special and certainly not worthy of a 4.7 rating on Facebook.  The reviews on Facebook make me think that the folks that eat there, have never eaten anywhere else.  It made me miss my breakfast mobile stand on the corner of 43rd and 10th Avenue – the guy was a breakfast wizard.  He’d cook your eggs to order and do it in under 3 minutes.  No hand or arm movement was ever wasted and always remembered that I liked hot sauce on it.  And this was for $2.50.  Hard to beat.

  • 24/7 Convenience.

In terms of missing convenience, I realize that using public transportation to get anywhere in the city is a 30-45 minute commitment to public transportation, fighting traffic or walking.  I had a car in NYC, but only used it to shuttle my wifey to work downtown (some 4 miles away from home) and to get out of the city on weekends.  I did not understand this before, but having a car is not a luxury living outside a major metropolitan area.  It is a necessity. Getting anywhere from our house takes anywhere from 15-30 minutes.  However, it is on my schedule – I decide when I’m leaving and when I arrive, which is very cool.  Stay posted for the BEST Connecticut vehicle to own which I like so much, that I’ll devote an entire post to it.

  • Online Delivery.

Honestly, I haven’t looked at the Seamless web app at all since moving to Connecticut.  When eating food that we are not cooking, we like to go for the whole experience of dining out.  I cannot even imagine ordering in.

  • Visiting friends.

This was perhaps the biggest surprise.  It could possibly be that we are only one hour outside of NYC, or maybe that we have a newborn son, but we have MORE friends and family visiting us now than we ever had in NYC.  From TannyTan, to cousins Tanya, to college buddy, Wardo, we are constantly hosting friends and family.  It wasn’t until six or seven months of straight guests in weekends, that I asked wifey what are weekend plans were, and she said, “Nothing, no one is staying with us.”

  • Access to new Restaurants and Trends.

You do not need to live in NYC to experience this.  I read the NYT Metropolitan section and Time Out New York to determine the trends and make mental notes of restaurants that I want to try.

  • Opportunity Costs.

Never having been to these landmarks, I do not miss them.

What We Would Not Miss:

Okay, the  things that we thought we would not miss, are spot on.  I would also like to add subway closure as another item that I do not miss.  And crowds.  I never thought I would say that I missed crowds.  I am, after all, part Filippino, and Filippinos love crowds.  However, having lived in Connecticut for a year, whenever I’m in NYC, and am faced with a crowd, rather than checking out why there are crowds, I tend to walk away from them now.

  1. Homelessness, Pan Handlers and Crazy Folks.
  2. Rude and Annoying People.
  3. Tourists.
  4. Litter, Pollution and Urine Smells.
  5. Traffic and Street Closures.

What We Were Looking Forward To:

The things that we were looking forward to are truly wonderful and life changing.  I am much more relaxed and calmer than I have ever been.  The frenetic pace of NYC is contagious, but not always in a good way.  Sometimes, I found living in the City that I was doing stuff just to do stuff, and was not really accomplishing anything.

  • Nature.
The men in our family at my morning coffee spot.

The men in our family at my morning coffee spot.

The fam on a walk on the road in front of our home.

The fam on a walk on the road in front of our home.

I have my morning coffee overlooking a beautiful lake or beside my beehives.  I take my son on a mile or so walk around our property filled with chickens, guinea hens and geese.  My friend Joe R. said it perfectly, “Al, you’ve traded in a city life to a paradise.”  Indeed.

  • Sunlight.

We have so much sunlight now, I bought four of these really cool solar powered suncatchers.  The problem was deciding which windows to put them in.  Morning sun, afternoon sun or evening sun?  Dilemmas, dilemmas.

  • Space.

We have more storage space now than we had living space in New York City.  That is not necessarily a good thing, as empty space always has a devious way of getting filled.  My garage and office are still filled with unpacked boxes that I keep telling myself, “I will get to next week.”  It was Mark Twain that said, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

  • Growing Plants.
  • Deer fencing up

    Deer fencing up

    My trailer park garden door.

    My trailer park garden door. Not pretty, but it works.

I’ve successfully put up a raised bed garden.  The first year, however, was a smashing failure as we did not account for deer.  In the words of my neighbor, we made a fantastic deer feeding station. The only things it did not eat were peppers and Chinese bitter melon – those deer have taste!  This year we’ve installed deer fencing, and I’m so happy to report that our tomatoes, swiss chard, bok choy and green peppers have started to come in.

  • Raising Animals.

Chickens, guinea fowl, and geese so far.  If I can convince wifey, I’d like to get a few dwarf goats.  She keeps claiming that she’s emotionally tapped out though – what with having a dozen chickens, two guinea fowl, four geese, three dogs, and a son.  I’m secretly planning on getting the goats for a “trial period.”  I’m certain that after we get them, she’ll love each one so much that she will not be able to give them up.



  1. Patti

    Hi Alistair,

    I’m so thrilled reading your blog. I am so happy for you and your wifey and adorable son. I love that you have embraced and excelled at living in the country. Best of luck – and I look forward to more stories and adventures.

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