The colonial flag flies from the Studio.
Growing,  Homestead

In Over Our Heads

My neighbor stopped by to pick up brown eggs and discuss a macramé piece I’m creating for her. I showed her an antique hutch we purchased for the dining room of our farmhouse. It is the second antique piece we found and got a great deal on.

“See?”, she said, “Look how much you’ve done in a year.” She would know. Her house is in the neighborhood we came from, where our now four year old house is being rented. She is one of the few who watched our family go from newly built house with all the perks in a development with sidewalks, walking path in the woods, backyard garden and lots of neighbors, to a five acre country property with 18th century barn and 19th century farmhouse.

In no way has the past year been pleasurable.

It has been a year now. We moved here before Thanksgiving of 2017. I had taken many pictures of our once organized, suburban life.  Our last Halloween in a development with trick or treaters. Our house after it was emptied. After it was professionally cleaned. A video walk to say goodbye to it, still wondering if we were doing the right thing. The 4 PODS of furniture and stuff of life we needed to move from a large house to a farmhouse with tiny closets, quaint bathrooms, and smaller rooms.

The farmhouse is not a box house. Nearly every room has its own particular shape and something special to declare, like stained glass windows, “L” shaped, original hardwood floors, or exposed stone walls. The barn, built in the 1700’s and 1800’s, has rooms, tools and old furniture left behind by previous owners. And rotten beams and caving stone walls. Not to mention the small stream running through the lower barn after each heavy rain. Every time I walk into the barn I wonder if it will fall on my head and yet we brought a horse here just before last Christmas.

We still don’t have hot water in the downstairs bathroom but thankfully, after hauling water buckets from the kitchen sink out to the barn for Manny all last winter, at least the barn water pump works now. Where at first I could barely lift one bucket of water, I now carry two full ones with ease.

I came to this farm while still recovering from double knee surgery. There was no time for leisurely healing. Every step hurt. From what I hear, my knees healed quickly. When we first moved in, walking up and down stairs was difficult. There was no way I would be able to carry laundry up and down staircases and definitely was not able to negotiate getting to the basement where the washer and dryer are without help. Shortly after moving in we had a contractor come in and convert a closet off the family room into a tiny laundry room on the first floor.

Antique rocking chair in the living room.
This antique rocking chair and foot stool with flip top are my reading chair near the fireplace.

More Than We Can Handle

With our three kids living here, plus the boyfriend of one, girlfriend of one, and nearly forty chickens for the youngest, the parking lot resembled a busy Inn. We had plans and more plans and lists for more plans. I typed up a five year plan with phases. The whole entire PLAN no longer even exists.

The old German built bank barn was visited by several people, each one with opinions on how to save it. Anything is possible if you have a million bucks stashed away somewhere, which we don’t.  The original PLAN was to find ways to use the property to generate income to put into saving the barn. Every single one of our ideas never got past the “I think we can” stage. It takes labor and time, and wouldn’t you know it?  Suddenly nobody had time for working on the property.

The garden, if you could call it that, was disorganized.

The free roaming chickens kept going out into the road and were killed by cars. We found homes for the survivors.

Thirty chickens were put into a revolving pen and everywhere they were put left behind ruined ground with no grass left.  They were given away too.

The pond has a weed that can’t be destroyed without major expense.

Our trees are dying from the lantern fly infestation in our state.

The inground swimming pool water never got blue.  And besides, there were thousands of lantern flies doing kamikaze dives into it and drowning that had to be scooped up every day. And dead mice, dead frogs and dead tree leaves.

The horse needed a pasture built. Each weekend more holes were dug until finally by August he had a place to run.

The plan to renovate one part of the barn into a place for people to use for educational workshops turned into creating a sewing, macramé and supplies workshop and studio for my hobby business and realizing there wasn’t enough room to use it for training or small events. So now, we are hiring a contractor to finish the second floor for that.

It is five acres, several of which required mowing.

All the other flower bed and landscaping areas were hit or miss.  The chickens ate the flower seeds I planted, and rabbits ate the flower plants.

It rained nearly every damned day after the coldest winter in years.

Someone tore down all the No Hunting and No Trespassing signs on our property. Real neighbor-like and all.

There is a meth dealer running a very busy operation nearby. Easy to do when there is no local police department.

An eighteen wheeler, four door sedan and pickup truck crashed in front of the property because there are no speed limit signs and the state refuses to put any up.

Two members of my family were nearly killed just pulling out of the driveway due to speeding on our back road, which has sharp curves to the left and right and is narrow and the state refuses to put up speed limit signs.

There is a handmade doll guarding the doors to the upper barn left by someone who lived here. We no longer pay attention to the footsteps we hear up there. It’s just the barn ghost.

We don’t go anywhere. Every ounce of free time is needed to do work on the farm.  There is no extra money for trips. We found a tractor mower online for cheap. Now we’re looking for a second hand rototiller. I requested hiring someone for the pool next year. We have a dead tree that has to come down, that was quoted about a thousand bucks because it is next to power lines. And the shed and the barn.

People ask me why I don’t speak at conferences anymore. I can’t afford to.

I told Eric that we were in over our heads and he said he is happy here.

The fireplace in the living room.
One of the fireplaces.

Happy Here

It has only been in the past few weeks that I’m beginning to relax and enjoy living on this homestead.  

Everyone who comes to Dancing Timber loves it. The property has ancient wisdom energy about it. I connect with that part the most and it grounds me. The farmhouse is charming and loaded with history and stories I’m determined to uncover.

Since moving here, I have not been sick. Not even a cold. I’m physically stronger. Probably as strong as I was as a teenager when I lived on a small farm with horses.  I unload and load hay and straw and stack it with ease. Muck the stall. Dump the wheelbarrow. Carry wood. Work from home, in an office with thick stone walls and windows with deeply set wooden window sills. We marvel at how the house was likely built in sections and how the exposed stone wall in the kitchen was probably once the outside of the house.

The two antique pieces we bought for the dining room were unplanned finds we happened to get good deals on. That’s exactly how we found this farm too. It was unplanned, and we got it at a bargain.

Once we stopped sticking to a plan, lost the official PLAN, changed plans and called off some plans, I realized that I was beginning to be happy. In no way has the past year been pleasurable, or even remotely relaxing.

I wonder what else this farm has to teach.

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