The charms of the farm…

The charms of the farm…

Okay, so aside from the commute, moving to Milton really wasn’t that bad. I know what you are thinking; I mentioned several challenges in my Hello Milton… post.  One of those challenges was the farm. When I moved to Milton, not only did I move from downtown Toronto to the suburbs, but I also moved from an apartment into a farmhouse.  What I shared with you in that earlier post did not shed the most positive light on farmhouse living; and let’s be serious, I don’t want you going around thinking that it was all ceramic chickens and ‘Home is where your boots dry’ signs. So, here are some of the charms of the farm.

A space of our own.  One of the best things about the farmhouse was not the house itself, but the land around it. Our home was situated on 75 acres of beautiful and wonderful open space. Now that is something you won’t find in Toronto! With Taylor being a landscaper, our house was surrounded by plush gardens and a big open deck that wrapped around two sides of the house. From there our yard stretched out, what felt like forever. I have fond memories of bonfires, golf (Taylor had installed a mini golf course he called Par 3 out front), every lawn game you can think of, and the best part … endless parking (our own, much cheaper version, of the Green P).

Peace and quiet. One of the first things I noticed about the farmhouse was the absolute silence that came with nighttime. There were no city noises like traffic, honking, sirens, drunk people yelling at each other, street fights…I could go on.  Instead, it felt like any noise was sucked up by the expanse of space and any sounds that did reach our ears were the comforting sounds of nature.  On the other hand, if we were the noisy ones, that was okay – we had no neighbors to disturb.

The wildlife.  After a peaceful night’s sleep at the farm, waking up to birds chirping was not uncommon. If the sun was shining they were singing. There were several types of birds from doves to blue jays, chickadees, cardinals, one majestic blue heron that had claimed the pond as his home, and many more. One spring we had a dove build its nest outside of our bedroom window. Back in the city this probably would have been considered a nuisance, but at the farm it offered a A mother dove with her two babiesfirsthand viewing of the Discovery Channel. We watched as the mama bird produced two perfect eggs, nestled on top of them to warm and protect them, and got to see the babies after they hatched. I was mesmerized the first time I got to witness their dinner time and excited to see the babies develop into little teenage birds, ready to fly the coup.

Rustic charm. The farmhouse itself was really quite beautiful. It had original natural hardwood throughout the house, exposed wooden beams, a wood burning Wood burning stove at farmhouse.stove and a hidden back entrance up to the master bedroom, which used to be the servants’ quarters. Despite being cold in the winter the house actually gave off a
very comfortable, homey feel that I genuinely miss.

You can grow your own veggies! My favourite thing about farmhouse living was the option to grow my own vegetables. Taylor, being the green thumb he is, was all for it and we have kept a garden on the property since my first summer in Milton.

There is nothing like the satisfaction of making a meal filled with organic veggies that you have grown yourself and picked fresh. In the fall I love to have my Toronto girlfriends out to Milton for “the harvest,” when they get to pick some of their own favourite veggies from the garden and we make a big feast out of what we’ve picked.
Vegges from our first gardenWe have had some failures and some successes with the garden, and every year we learn something new. I will never forget the first time I went out to the garden to find green onion shoots poking their heads out of the ground. We have had great success with tomatoes, carrots, parsnips, kale, Swiss chard, onions, zucchini, spaghetti squash, raspberries, hot peppers and lots of fresh herbs. We are still working on our wish list of garlic, potatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and corn.  Got any tips? We’re all ears…..or not.

More on becoming a Milton-foodie in my next post.

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…Hello Milton

…Hello Milton

I’ll say that my decision to move to Milton to be with Taylor was an easy one, and that is true for the most part. However, if I am honest, it was a big adjustment. Someone that knows me quite well may question this; after all I have moved MANY times and moving from London to Toronto was a gigantic leap into the unknown. But, the truth is I had become very accustomed to my comfort zone of close friends, easy access to work and my small life in the big city.

Living together the past few years, my roommate Kendall and I had blossomed into great friends. I also happened to have many other very good friends living nearby in Toronto. All of my close girlfriends from university days ended up living in various neighborhoods throughout the city. While my network in Milton was expanding and I actually had family here, it wasn’t going to be the same. But there is a bit more to it than that – Milton and Toronto could not be more different!

Some of the reasons my move to Milton was a big deal…

new-car
My new ride! (Nov 2012)

The commute… I kept my job in the city at Yonge and Bloor, so getting to work would now take two hours, rather than ten minutes and cost about $500 a month, instead of zero.  I started off my commuting life by taking the GO train; I hadn’t driven for two years and was nervous to get back on the road. But I was living in Milton! I had to have a car.  My time and money would become precious commodities and I would have to learn to be patient, finding ways to just enjoy the ride.

My new home “at the farm”… At the time of my move Taylor was living in his childhood home, a large 75 acre farm property just five minutes from downtown Milton.  Taylor lived in the farmhouse and worked out of the adjoining property next door. On paper this sounds like striking ‘suburban- living gold’ and in many ways it was, but there are aspects of farmhouse living that challenged the city in me.  Here are a few examples…

The farm ran on well water for plumbing, which could stop running (with very little warning) at any moment. Most often when my hands were good and lathered up with soap.

While relatively cool in the summer, the farmhouse ran on oil for heat, which turns out to be very expensive.  Being economical resulted in some cold mornings during the winter months, and water that felt like liquid ice coming from the taps.

And then there are the bugs. At any given time of year there is inevitably a species of critter that takes over the farmhouse – spiders, ladybugs, ants, bees, but the most annoying of them all were the flies! If you don’t know what a cluster fly is, be grateful. You can check them out here. For the record, in my experience they do not restrict themselves to unused rooms and they will make themselves quite at home in your bedroom.

farm
The Farmhouse

Access to food… Okay, this one might sound a bit dramatic, but I’m serious! If you learn one thing about me from my blog, it should be that I LOVE food. I enjoy cooking and trying out different recipes, but I also really enjoy eating out. Toronto has endless food options and I was coming from a neighborhood with literally hundreds of options to choose from, at any time of the day. You craved it, you got it!  While Milton has some hidden gems that serve up both delicious fast take-away options and quality sit down meals (we’ll get into those later), I discovered quickly that few places in Milton are open past 9 p.m. When you commute, getting home as late as 8 p.m. sometimes, this can be a huge disappointment.

New to town… By the time I moved to Milton I was still getting to know Taylor’s friends and their partners. I definitely had some networking to do.  While I am a people person, this can still be tricky even for the most extreme extrovert. It’s kind of like dating, except that you are dating lots of people and you want to have relationships with them all! It’s difficult to meet people in a new town and I am still working at it. This American Life podcast, Episode 587:The Perils of Intimacy Act Two “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” sums it up well.

Living with a boy… While Taylor and I have some key things in common, we differ as much as we relate. Plus, I had never lived with a boyfriend before and he had never lived with a girlfriend. To add to the mix Taylor is the baby of his family with two older sisters, while I am an only child. This was going to be interesting.