We’ve made great strides in turning our new home into a farm in recent weeks. While we won’t be moving up until May, the stalls and coops for the animals all have to be complete before we can transition.
Inside the house, we’ve torn out several walls to prepare for new rooms, and we’ve stripped wallpaper in other rooms and torn out floors and ceilings. It is dirty work, but wholly satisfying. The furniture, paperwork, and left behind belongings have been fun to sort though, and a few real treasures have been found. It is endlessly fascinating to see how people used to live and farm, and peer into correspondences dated from the turn of the last century.
Now that the house has been stripped back, with only the demolition of the ell remaining, we’ve shifted our focus to the barn. This building was probably raised the same time as the house, in the mid 1800s. It was updated around the 1930s to fit cattle, including the addition of stalls and extra haylofts. All those stalls and haylofts are coming out, and the floors where they aren’t stable are being ripped out. A hundred years of dirt, droppings, and hay make it a messy assignment, but with dust masks and gloves it goes along quickly.
Many of the boards are in excellent, if weathered, condition, though a few of the support beams have been rubbed into interesting shapes by countless cow horns. We’ll be able to re-use most of the flooring, and much of the wood we’ve torn out can go into shaping the new rooms.
The original timber framed structure of the barn is spectacular and the light that comes flooding in with just a little bit of cleared space really allows you to see its potential. As we’re demoing the existing interior set up, we’re also making plans for the chickens, goats, and geese that we’ll be keeping in the barn. I want plenty of space to fit an expanded flock without having to rebuild. We’ll have a dedicated milking area built in, even though milking is still a year or so away, and the space we’re building for the geese will hold a gaggle of twenty-five.
Like the house, there are plenty of treasures to be found in the old barn. We’ve dug out antique rat traps, pitch forks and rakes that we’ve immediately put to use, old cedar barrels, a vintage reel lawn mower, and a huge wooden ladder to reach the highest windows in the barn.
The process of clearing out the home and barn is hard work but it is well worth it. Not only are we finding all of the quirks and hidden treasures of our buildings – and we’ve been delighted not to have any unpleasant surprises – but we are investing the sweat equity that will make the finished farm all the more special to us.