Dreams Vs. Reality: Straight From the Farm

O', the country mile between what urban buyers envision versus what they find!

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The most bucolic farms of all are the ones that exist in the minds of people who have never lived on farms. We’re not saying they never, ever have real-life analogues, mind you — but it’s fair to say that when We Bought the Farm’s marvellous optimists go shopping, the barn isn’t always half full. Or on the property that’s for sale. Or — but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Theory: All Country Homes Have Classic Style

Reality: Questionable Taste Is Everywhere

Even big-city decor has rustic touches these days, and it’s easy to understand why; everyone loves timbered ceilings, barn doors and artful distressing. Given that, honest-to-goodness country living should be effortlessly chic, right? Alas, some farmers skip alarm clocks and jolt themselves out of bed before dawn with the force of the eye-searing paint on their walls. Weird choices aren’t exclusive to urban digs.

Theory: Who Needs a Pool When You’ve Got a Pond? 

Reality: Humans Aren’t Alone in Loving Ponds

Water features are a lot of fun, but it’s important to remember that untreated, standing water often has something of a ... funk. You’re taking a dip with a whole host of microscopic buddies. (On second thought, don’t think about the word “host,” or all of the things chlorine keeps nature from introducing to pools.)

Theory: More Bang For Your Buck!

Reality: More Heating, More Cleaning, More Repairs ...

When you’re moving to the country from, say, a downtown studio, why wouldn’t you spread out over thousands upon thousands of square feet? (As one couple puts it at the end of their search, “People ask why we bought such a big house, and ... we don’t know.”) Psst: Farmhouses have fireplaces in almost every room because they’re expensive to heat, and quaint extra bedrooms don’t clean themselves. Then there’s that dreamy wraparound porch, exposed to the elements all year long ... you get the idea.

Theory: Farmhouses Are Huge

Reality: Some Farmhouses Are Huge

These days, an American man of average height is 5-foot-10 — three inches taller than American men of a century ago, the ones who built the charming old door frames on family farms all over the country. Buyers interested in original interiors should prepare to do some ducking.

Theory: Old-World Charm!

Reality: Old-Home Weird

So having an extra sleeping space on the first floor of your home isn’t quite as exciting when you don’t have to creep out of bed to milk the cows first thing in the morning. It could be the perfect place to put up guests who tend to overstay their welcome, though, no?

Theory: You’re Getting Away From It All!

Reality: The Interstate’s Kinda Right There

Homes on working farms in the 1700s tended to be built near main roads — since trundling up a long driveway in a buggy (or on horseback, or on foot) was considerably more difficult than cruising there in a truck (and “street noise” didn’t really exist). Translation: Meet your next-door neighbor, I-80.

Theory: If You’ve Got a Barn, You’re Ready for Horses

Reality: Neigh

While one could argue that big, beautiful barns look terribly sad when they’re uninhabited, dreaming of horses and living with them are two very different things. Stall maintenance, feeding and care add up to an hour’s worth of work every day, and that’s before rides, which tack on two more hours a day and should happen five days a week (per experts).

Theory: You MUST Have Chickens

Reality: Actually, Chickens Are Pretty Great

Chickens need a clean, safe place to live and regular care and exercise, just like larger, more cinematic farm animals, but they’re comparatively easy for hobby (and young) farmers to tend, since they require just four square feet of coop space per hen and will eat almost anything (seriously, keep an eye on your shoelaces).

Tune in for an all-new episode of We Bought the Farm Saturday, June 3 at 11p|10c.

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