Sunday, December 23, 2012

Moving Day

Yes, today is our moving day. We are moving into the basement of the Homestead. The week has been relentless, the rain-soaked ground is now covered in snow and hopefully nice and frozen, and it is three days until Christmas. But the wood stove keeps the basement toasty warm, the painting was nearly done when I was there today working into the afternoon, and Adam was getting ready to put in the kitchen sink.

We have a working toilet and shower, which is more than we had when we moved into the house we're in now. And we're just plain ready. We were hoping to spend Christmas in the new house last year, but this constructing a house out of a barn business, well, it just takes longer than you think. So we are determined to spend Christmas there this year. We're excited, and can't wait to share the experience of living there with you in this space. That may be a few weeks, as our only internet access will be in town at the old house, so I apologize for keeping you hanging. Not that I've been faithful to this space yet. I hope to change that with the move. Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas and Holiday season!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Drama of the Well

Water. Our one hold-up on moving into our home has been water. The old hand-dug well on the property is beautiful and useful in ways, but it wouldn't provide our large family with the water needed for a modern lifestyle, no matter how modestly we live in comparison to many. Yes, we'll be homesteading, and many look at what we're doing as akin to the Ingles, but we'll still be using our fancy HE washing machine and bathing more than once a week in a good ol' shower/tub. Yes, we'll be needing water if we're to continue living the life that we would like. I hesitate to use the word "need." No, we don't NEED a huge source. Most of us here in this country don't need most of what we have. But according to our lifestyle preference at this time, I dare say we need water before we can move in to our homestead. Reliable, clean water.

The well was supposed to be simple. But there's always that chance that things don't go as planned when you dig a well.

Clyde the Witcher came with his witching stick to determine the best spot and found three veins of water converging in one spot just behind the house.

Perfect! That is just what we were hoping for. A close well site with as little pipe as possible to run water to our home. And a site that would give a good return so that we could not drain the well from washing clothes and children. The drilling began,

the children watched,

the mud was plentiful.

They hit water! But they also hit crude oil. Not the amount of oil that makes you say YIPEE! Just enough oil in our water to spoil our precious water.

Move on to well site number two.

Not what we were wishing for at all. We could have water by now, but instead we're starting over at square one. Disheartening, for sure. Especially for a Mama that is ready to get her family into their true home, move her turkeys and her chickens home, and get settled into our new space by autumn, and autumn is moving in fast in this valley. Site number two, water at 50 feet, and what do we hit at 70 feet? Crude oil. AGAIN. After water testing, weeks of decisions, and lots of avoidance and pacing from Mama (thus the lack of posts...), a decision was made to seal up the bottom of this site and use this well, plus a cistern holding tank to give us enough water volume to sustaine our family.

The result, finally? Water at the homestead. A bit farther from the house than we would have liked, but water none the less.

And Mama can breathe a sigh of relief, as we are one HUGE step closer to being home at last.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In Her Words and Mine

A little snippet from the five-year diary of Mrs. Sarah Willis, wife of Clyde Willis, previous owner of the land we now live on and from, and my response. I will be sharing it with you occasionally in this space, for enlightenment, appreciation, and respect for those who came before us.

August 14, 1945: Tues. Today I dyed the aqua dress which Millie S. gave me. It turned out pretty good. In the evening the news came of Japan's complete and unconditional surrender. Bells began to ring, sirens howled, children screamed, Clyde decorated the car and led a parade thru several towns. V. and I stayed at home. I felt solemn, wondering just what this victory would mean throughout the world. Will it open doors to the Gospel?

August 14, 2012: Tues. Today I will be knitting a pair of socks with you on my mind, and this important day in our history. I have tried to imagine your life during this time of war, and now to hear your short account of the end of the war is humbling. At the top of this page, you have written War Ended!!! I am seeing other small victories unfold in so many lives around me, and the beautiful story behind these socks seems so fitting.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In Her Words and Mine

A little snippet from the five-year diary of Mrs. Sarah Willis, wife of Clyde Willis, previous owner of the land we now live on and from, and my response. I will be sharing it with you occasionally in this space, for enlightenment, appreciation, and respect for those who came before us.

August 12, 1941: Tues. Jesus' love is wonderful to me. We took Dot to the hospital and train, then went shopping. I got blouse material, a brown pocket book, brown shoes & white & black pumps. Dad gave me $5. It is cold tonight. 58 degrees. I am wearing my flannel pajamas.

August 12, 2012: Sun. Jesus' love is wonderful to me, also, Sarah. I am very blessed. We went to church, spent the morning in the place where you used to live, preparing for living there ourselves, then spent the evening at our Parish Picnic with wonderful friends and fellow parishioners. It is also cold here tonight. 59 degrees. I will wear my flannel pajamas just like you did.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Farmhouse Deconstruction

You may think I mean demolition, but I assure you I don't. I say deconstruction, because demolition is not a suitable term for the work we completed in the old farmhouse. We have had to DEconstruct everything carefully because every bit of lumber used to construct the house will be reused in the transformation of the barn into a house. That being said, it is mostly only the lumber that was saved. I did save some of the old books.

The five-year diary of Mrs. Sarah Willis and her pack of letters that she had kept is here at our current house with me now.

The second story of the house was filled with books and paperwork. The property had been uninhabited for 15 years, but the previous owners were a pastor and his wife, and years upon years of his church's record keeping was up there, along with evangelical training, brochures and pamphlets.

Fascinating, but there is only so much room for us to keep memorabilia from the old house, so we had to pick and choose. I did keep the old furniture that was there, and will be reupholstering it for our use. Oh, the plans I have for this furniture. The sectional sofa is wonderful, and the rocker glides like butta'. As for the rest of the things I loved in that house, like the old tile,

stair carpet,

and layers and layers of wallpaper, all I have left is photographic evidence of its existence.

And I'm fine with that. Like I said, there will be only so much room for memorabilia, and I have been using the photos as texture for other photos I edit with Photoshop.

Gives that wallpaper new life.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Farm House

Part of the draw of this property we will be spending the next 8 years or more on was the farmhouse.

Not large enough to hold all of us, and that was even before our 5th graced us. Yet it drew us in with its charm. What to do with this ancient farmhouse, with residents of grey squirrels, woodchucks, and raccoons, carolina wrens and eastern phoebes?

I'm so glad that you have asked! Why, the obvious choice is to use it and its overabundance of beautiful hand-hewn beams and tongue and groove wall and floor boards to build the huge barn above it into a house.

At least, that was the obvious choice for my resourceful husband, who has worked in the construction field for the last 15 years. So we started one cold February day on the deconstruction of the old farmhouse. Yes, it was bittersweet. I feel a connection to the family that spent their lives here. I found a five-year diary from Mrs. Sarah Willis that gives me small glimpses into what her life was like while she lived here. And I will share it with you in pieces, here and there. Yet, the life of that house is going to live on in our home, with plenty of room for us all. New life. That's what this entire journey is about. For us as a family, for each of us individually, for the memories and lives left in the essence of this land. Not a thing will be wasted or not appreciated. And it is my belief that this offsets all of the what-a-shames that comes with taking down something with so much history in it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Dream

It started as a dream. We talked about where we really wanted to be, my husband and I. We spent afternoons driving country roads, looking at beautiful property and wondering aloud what our life might be if the owner would be willing to part with just a piece of it. We talked about building a house, about a homestead life for our growning, homeschooling family, away from the small city where we lived. We dreamed of walking out our door for our weekly hikes instead of driving to the local nature preserves. We dreamed of a larger garden than our small backyard one, of chickens, goats, orchards, preserving our food, living off of our land and our labor. We talked, and we dreamed. But my husband, his dreams soar big, and he didn't stop there. He knew that there were creative ways to dig into the homesteading life that didn't take finding a bank, purchasing some land, then somehow saving the money to build that dream house that we've always wanted.

One of those days those big, soaring dreams of his took him past a piece of property that was obviously uninhabited. An old farmhouse, and a barn that had obviously been worked on, sitting across a creek from him.

And on that day, instead of dreaming about what it would be like to live there, he acted. He called me and said, "I've found it. I've found our homestead." He found the land owner by stopping at a local business and asking questions, and over the next several months had countless meetings with him and his family. We talked and talked of possible scenarios, and finally came up with one that worked for everyone. Contracts were formed and signed, and we are now on a journey. A year and a half ago we began this journey, and we are now closing in on finally living on our homestead. And here, in this space, I plan to share with you this journey. There will be stories from the past, life in the present, and dreams and plans for the future. All told, you will share in our Adventure Homestead, as we plow through this land and this new life to find a little more of who we are all supposed to be as individuals and as a family.

I hope you will visit often, and share in this adventure with me. Come share as this barn becomes a home, as our five children grow into who they are to become through their experiences here on our homestead, and as we learn and grow our small homestead farm. There is so much to do, so much to learn, and I am thankful to have a space to share it with you all.