Posts Tagged ‘Homestead’

Dear Richard,
I  have decided to take the blogging route to sharing with you things about the farmstead that I think will interest you Рthings that are being done and planned, and a few of my thoughts on the place.
From August 2009 –
I took these photos in late summer 2009, shortly after seeing the house for the first time. I had an experience that unnerved me, immediately upon setting foot on the property – I realized I had dreamt of it before, in a night-time dream(s), and that parts of the property were already familiar to me through the dream(s). I was physically shaking as Will and I examined the house, because I needed to be part of this farmstead, and I was afraid we might not get it. The place has not disappointed me, though the pace at which I have been able to move, while cleaning up and beginning new projects, has at times been depressing.
Big Basement Room, Black Fur Coat - September 2009

This photo shows the basement as it looked the first time I saw it. I thought the potential for the space was rather good, and immediately began indulging fantasies of what we could do to turn it into a family and work space, cozy with wood heating stove. The plans are moving slowly there, but the original mess is pretty well gone. I am having to figure out now what to do with the mess which we substituted for it, in the way of storing our own things which are awaiting a permanent parking place.

I found it somewhat pleasurable and interesting to go through the “trash” left in the house, as I enjoyed seeing through this window into someone else’s life – what they liked and what hobbies they engaged in, where their priorities lay, etc. It was a bit like reading an historical novel.

Here is how it looked in spring 2013. Coming along, but nowhere near what I planned on. ūüôā

Basement Big Room Update, February 2014

As far as my plans for the basement go, they are somewhat sketchy. I had very different ideas initially than I have now. I have watched the way my family has actually reacted to living here, and the way we naturally use the different spaces.  So I will start by saying some things I love about this big room:

Big Basement Room, Messy, Including Chimney, Closet, and View into Billy's Room - September 2009

Even when I walked in and saw the original mess,¬†I particularly liked the brickwork in the basement…the bright golden wood on the closet…the uninhibited windows opening in the spring to let in the freshness.

I plan on insulating the basement walls with the stick-frame method, so that it is not glaringly chilly in the winters. We have strung lines for drying laundry, and have installed a 30-gallon barrel stove for heating. I would like to eliminate the false ceiling, which is coming to bits anyway and is a veritable mouse highway, and paint the woodwork – perhaps in a practical manner, perhaps fancifully, say, with a floral-vine motif. I haven’t had a chance to look past the organization work that yet needs to be done, in order to think clearly about my options. So that will come later. Will is using the heavy brown cabinet which we found downstairs for storing ammunition and the like. (He is a shooting enthusiast.)

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Regarding the yard areas, I fell in love with the feeling of seclusion, wildwood beauty, and bittersweet memories lingering in the air. The day lilies were like a promise that everything could be glorious…

Homestead West Yard, Orange Daylilies, Bushes, Weeds, Hot Looking - August 2009

…the moss that things could indeed grow – water! –

…the periwinkle that beauty was not just for part of the time.

Back Porch Steps, Farm House, Homestead - Belle Honeysuckle, Nightshade, Weeds - August 2009

The back porch spoke of long summer evenings, and attendance on flower boxes (one was collapsed in a heap at the south end).

…the butterflies, though only cabbage butterflies, that there were blooming plants, and no insecticides to interfere with the good forms of life (as well as the not-so-desirable).

In short, there were many things that gave me hope – of productiveness, fun, and loveliness.
The buckeye tree fascinated me –



I’d never seen one before. We learned that the nuts, if properly boiled and prepared, can be a useful arthritis remedy, and the kids had fun making necklaces out of cured nuts. The tree is not doing so very well now, so we are trying to get a few little trees started, in case it succumbs.

Also, discovering mushrooms and slime molds:



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My yard began coming truly alive again in April this year. The sun fairly glows in the young grass, and through every bud.

Old rusty car.

No one knows when this car was parked. It has become part of the landscape, cherished in its way as much as the trees, rabbit burrows, and silent owls.

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This is a mile marker in my progress of making this house a home. Last spring, it seemed¬†impossible to get the north sideyard tidied…and was, though I and the children improved it. Now, in late December, with unbelievably gorgeous weather,¬†it seems possible to do anything I want here…provided I work within the parameters of the space and conditions given me by nature and my Creator.

We cleaned up shingles, broken glass, metal trash, and sticks, hauling things away in 5-gallon buckets. The metal trash went to our recycling stash, housed in a shed until we have enough for our scrap-hauling neighbor to go to the bother of removing it. Everything that could be burned was put in the burn barrels. Sticks that were suitable for kindling were piled were they could be gotten at when required.

All in all, it was a good day, and I am well pleased.

When the weather warms, I want to re-plant ferns along the side of the house, to soften it. At present, it is cold and rather barren looking, save for a few scrubby cedars, more like wisps of tall weeds. There are also some Belle honeysuckle bushes, which are lovely in season, but spaced awkwardly.

These improvements may need to wait until another year, however, as it would make sense to first do the reconstruction that needs done on the back porch. Will doesn’t really notice flowers, and will probably run them over with the tractor without a second thought.

I’ll bide my time.

Screw it! I'm gardening!

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I had been told that old Kate had grown one of the most productive, beloved gardens in the county. But I could find no evidence that this was true. Nowhere was there so much as an old post or tangle of wire indicating there had been a vegetable garden.

I had been told to look for asparagus and rhubarb, still supposedly running rampant.

At last Will solved the mystery. Hidden in the midst of 5′ tall (and taller) weeds was a nice area marked off by a tumble-down fence. There was a sagging gate with a wooden archway signalling the entrance. At the corners there still grew black currant bushes.

These pictures were taken later, after the weeds had died down in the autumn, and been replaced by winter snows and spring growth. The garden is no longer hidden. But you can see how it was.

I had been told that Kate used straw mulch and planted enormous quantities of green beans, squashes, and flowers…which paths meandering here and there around the whole property. She probably used a gravity-feed watering system from a windmill tower to water the main garden, though I have been unable to confirm this. Regardless, it looks lush in May.

Old Garden Area Green May

I eventually found some asparagus, dotted here and there, feral, growing amongst iris, poppies, sweet rocket, grasses, and wildflowers (aka, weeds). Alas, no rhubarb. I’ll have to start my own patch.

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As the sun was setting, Will recently finished an important task. The branches of the trees lining the driveway had grown up into the highline wires.

Will took his chainsaw to them, then used his tractor forks to push them out of the way, and haul them to a burn pile he’s made in the pasture. He’s also hauled out an enormous amount of tumbleweeds and other brush. We’ll have a bonfire on the first windless, wet day available. Get a member of¬†the local¬†volunteer fire department to¬†drive the¬† water truck out, in case anything goes wrong.

Will’s¬†tree surgery opened the drive up considerably, knocking out some of the charm which the over-arching branches made, but it had to be done.

And it’s not that bad:

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Here are a few pictures from around the house, showing the dents we’ve been able to make in the messes.

In case you missed the original post on that subject, here is what the house looked like the first time we walked in:

This bedroom is typical of every room in the house. Actually, it’s piled less high than were¬†many of the rooms.

This storage room is another prime example. Nowhere to step without stepping on stuff.

Here are the improvements:

These two pictures were taken in the living room. While many of the old cans, bottles, and jars from the basement had to be stacked here, it is still an improvement. Originally, the entire floor (including under the couch) was littered with magazines, mouse turds, and sewing supplies.

Here is the “After” picture of the bedroom at the top. No, most of the floors are not washed, but at least there is walking room!

Another bedroom. This one was full of clothes, books, and spilled food. I want it to be a music room, complete with piano, fiddles, guitars,¬†and trumpet. Will’s extended¬†family were all musically inclined, and I enjoyed playing my homemade fiddle in highschool.¬†Among the four of us (Will, the children, and I), we¬†play several¬†instruments.

I love the way the main floor divides neatly into two halves. This is the door leading from the dining room to the hallway. That is the Hall Closet of the Feminine Hand opposite.

Where to From Here?

I feel we have a long ways to go, even though the majority of the spaces are cleared of trash and excess belongings. For instance, nearly every wall and floor needs washed. This will not be a bad task once the weather warms up sufficiently, but has been imossible to attack while the mercury insists on reading in the 20’s (F.).

Not that everything is terribly dirty. Many of the bookshelves have developed less dust buildup in eighteen years than mine do in eighteen days (no joke). And the walls in the living room proved shockingly clean, when given the wet white cloth test.

But the floor in the kitchen, which I washed prior to us sleeping on it on New Year’s, took three gallons of water and over an hour of scrubbing. Oh well, a small price to pay. The dining room floor – old linoleum covered with red poppies – made me smile, once I realized how bright it still was under its coating of dried mud. I was a bit disappointed in how dull the hardwood floor around the perimeter of the room looked once it was scrubbed, but I think a refinish job will fix most of this. The floors since then have stayed remarkably clean, and¬†brighten up with just¬†a swipe of a cloth. A far cry from my present floors – carpet and hardwood alike – which are so worn that they altogether resist cleanliness.

I know once all the old dirt and grime is scrubbed (and scraped) away, the house will feel very much like home. It already largely does.

I have begun moving other belongings to the farm house, stowing them in cabinets and cupboards. It is my hope that by the time we are actually ready to move, we won’t have much left to do. On the other hand, we can only move out so much of what we use on a regular basis.

At least I can take comfort knowing that our current¬†small house has forced us to be rid of things that we don’t really use. We won’t have a whole lot of trashing to do, and very few garage sale-type items.

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