A Visit to the Farm

      75 Comments on A Visit to the Farm

I haven’t been out to see our mini-farm in weeks, although Chareva has been out there to meet with contractors.  Today we drove out to shoot some “before” pictures and video.

“Before” means before we renovate the house and clean up the land.  As I explained when I announced we bought the farm, we got it cheap because the elderly widow who was living there let pretty much everything go.  The picture below, which I posted previously, was from her realtor’s site, and it was obviously taken some time ago.  Notice the short grass around the barns.

We know the front pastures can look like this.  But they don’t currently.  Here are the front two pastures today.  Notice you can only see the roof of one of the barns.

There’s a back pasture too, which appears to be bigger than the front two.  I don’t know for sure, because I’ve only eyeballed it.  I don’t want to walk around back there because the weeds are nearly as tall as I am, and lord only knows what kind of critters are lurking in them.

I once read that if humans disappeared from the earth for a couple of hundred years, it would difficult to find evidence we ever existed in most areas — the exception being the big cities and the desert towns.  Everywhere else, the plants would take over.  I believe that’s true.  Not many years ago, the fenced-in area you see below was a pen for a dog, which means it was probably all grass in there.  Look at how thoroughly the weeds and saplings have taken over.

We own a good-sized chunk of the forest behind the house, but it will be awhile before I do any exploring back there.  If you look closely, you can spot the fence in this picture.  The fence is maybe 25 yards from the back of the house.  The waist-high weeds have grown right up to it and partly over it, and to get back to the trees, I’d have to stumble through a jungle of weeds.

The previous owner clearly had a major fear of someone getting in the house, which I guess is understandable to an extent, since she was an elderly widow living alone.  Every single door looks something like this:

There are even deadbolts on the doors separating rooms within the house … apparently she wanted to be able to lock herself in one room if need be.  There are also burglar bars on all the windows — every single one, even the second-story windows.

Sure, no one’s getting in — but if there’s a fire, no one’s getting out either.  We are of course having all the burglar bars removed.

And just in case someone managed to get past all the deadbolts and burglar bars, most rooms in the house had at least one these in a corner.

When we first walked through the house, I wondered why an older woman who didn’t even have cable owned so many TVs.  Well, they weren’t TVs; they were monitors for her security cameras.

I mentioned in my first post about farm that the whole place smelled like mold, dirt and dog hair.  Here’s a sample of what’s currently all over the floors.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, believe me, I’m not.  If the place hadn’t been in such awful shape, it would have easily cost $100,000 more, which means we’d still be dreaming about owning a mini-farm instead of actually owning one.  Over the next few months, we’re having every floor refinished, every room re-painted, replacing all the fixtures, tearing out the basement and having it rebuilt, and generally cleaning up the mess.  That’s all in the renovation budget.  We’ll deal with the land after that, or perhaps while the house is being renovated.

Despite all the mess, it was a grand feeling to walk around the land today and know it’s ours.  To the girls, it’s already the world’s greatest play land.  They found a wheelbarrow and began pushing it around the huge grassy area in front of the house, picking up sticks.   They also went exploring around the creek, which they’ve done on every trip out there. They were having a blast, and complained rather noisily when we told them it was time to leave.

That’s me this afternoon, looking at the property from the road.  The house is somewhere behind the first line of trees, up on a hill.

Just over two years ago, I was watching my girls play on a 4 x 6 patch of grass in front of our townhouse in Burbank, feeling sorry for them because they didn’t have a real yard.  That was one of the many reasons I decided it was time to move.  I didn’t want to give them a childhood I wouldn’t want for myself.

In a few months, this will be their yard.  That makes every bit of work coming down the pike more than worth it.

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75 thoughts on “A Visit to the Farm

  1. Andrea

    Tom, here are a couple of places in TN that rent goats out to clear overgrowth:

    http://hiddenspringsfarms.com/

    http://whistlepigfarmsgoats.org/default.aspx

    The thing I love about goats is that they are more effective than humans for clearing saplings, poison ivy/oak/sumac, kudzu, brambles, and so on. They love all that stuff. Plus they leave behind some of the best possible fertilizer – for free! They also work remarkably quickly. Check ’em out if you haven’t already.

    I’ll pass these on to Chareva, a.k.a. the farm wife.

    Reply
  2. Kate

    Congrats and enjoy the new farm! I can’t wait to see how it evolves with the renovations.

    That makes two of us.

    Reply
  3. Underground

    A friend of mine moved into a house here, and the previous owner had IR beam sensors all over the house. But the weirdest thing was that every closet door in the place had 4-5 bolts on it. On the inside.

    The weeds will get knocked down some once we get some cooler weather, that’s your chance to do some damage. You’ll be better able to see what’s going on. I’d say at the very least get it bushhogged around the buildings to start with this fall before anything too tough sets in.

    That’s one of the terms I’ve learned recently: bush-hog. Apparently it’s a verb as well as a noun, since people have been telling me, “Get someone out there to bush-hog it.” Ask me three months ago, I would’ve guessed a bush hog is a hog that lives in the bush country.

    Reply
  4. Katy

    “I’ve heard they’ll devour your books if you let them.”

    My son’s German shepherd/lab puppy ate my copy of Emerson’s essays and the last 6 chapters of Moby Dick. I swept up the remnants and took them to class in a paper sack. Yes, the dog ate my homework:-)

    At least the dog has good taste in literature.

    Reply
  5. Andrea

    Tom, here are a couple of places in TN that rent goats out to clear overgrowth:

    http://hiddenspringsfarms.com/

    http://whistlepigfarmsgoats.org/default.aspx

    The thing I love about goats is that they are more effective than humans for clearing saplings, poison ivy/oak/sumac, kudzu, brambles, and so on. They love all that stuff. Plus they leave behind some of the best possible fertilizer – for free! They also work remarkably quickly. Check ’em out if you haven’t already.

    I’ll pass these on to Chareva, a.k.a. the farm wife.

    Reply
  6. Katy

    “I’ve heard they’ll devour your books if you let them.”

    My son’s German shepherd/lab puppy ate my copy of Emerson’s essays and the last 6 chapters of Moby Dick. I swept up the remnants and took them to class in a paper sack. Yes, the dog ate my homework:-)

    At least the dog has good taste in literature.

    Reply
  7. Alexandra

    What a lovely piece of land.. I think those folks are saying “Brush hog” which is a tough as nails mower for behind a tractor. If you don’t already know where it is, keep an eye out for an old orchard, there is certainly one there. Not to be an alarmist but also be aware of a possible dug well out there somewhere, in my neck of the woods they are on every old farm and can be quite large and deep and sometimes only covered in old rotted boards. Maybe the former owner can recall it’s location so you can button it up.
    By the way, the wood trim looks like heart pine..awesome stuff that will refinish beautifully.

    I’ll definitely keep an eye out for wells. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t gone exploring in the fields with the tall weeds; no idea what I’ll stop on or into.

    Reply
  8. Amy Dungan

    I can’t wait to see all the progress! I know this will be a fantastic place for you all and I have no doubt it’s one of the best moves you could have made for the girls.

    I can tell already they’re going to love having all that land to explore.

    Reply
  9. Alexandra

    What a lovely piece of land.. I think those folks are saying “Brush hog” which is a tough as nails mower for behind a tractor. If you don’t already know where it is, keep an eye out for an old orchard, there is certainly one there. Not to be an alarmist but also be aware of a possible dug well out there somewhere, in my neck of the woods they are on every old farm and can be quite large and deep and sometimes only covered in old rotted boards. Maybe the former owner can recall it’s location so you can button it up.
    By the way, the wood trim looks like heart pine..awesome stuff that will refinish beautifully.

    I’ll definitely keep an eye out for wells. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t gone exploring in the fields with the tall weeds; no idea what I’ll stop on or into.

    Reply
  10. Amy Dungan

    I can’t wait to see all the progress! I know this will be a fantastic place for you all and I have no doubt it’s one of the best moves you could have made for the girls.

    I can tell already they’re going to love having all that land to explore.

    Reply
  11. David

    Please leave some overgrown brush near the edge of the property so I can park my Tiny House on your land without being seen.:-) Just kidding!

    http://tinyhouseblog.com/

    Think of the possibilities when your daughters hit their teens and aren’t quite so adorable as they are now.

    If I happen to spot your tiny house in our bushes, I’ll look the other way and move on … provided you bring bacon.

    Reply
  12. Jason

    How about a couple of cows to take care of the grass “problem”

    Next year, perhaps. We plan to start with chickens in the spring, then see how it goes.

    Reply
  13. David

    Please leave some overgrown brush near the edge of the property so I can park my Tiny House on your land without being seen.:-) Just kidding!

    http://tinyhouseblog.com/

    Think of the possibilities when your daughters hit their teens and aren’t quite so adorable as they are now.

    If I happen to spot your tiny house in our bushes, I’ll look the other way and move on … provided you bring bacon.

    Reply
  14. Anne

    Will be fun to read your updates as you renovate. It is a lovely property. As far as goats, I had two milk goats many years ago and they gave us all the milk we needed. Of course it meant having to milk them 2 times a day. It was work but I enjoyed it.

    The does don’t smell bad like the bucks do. We did not have a buck. We raised a couple of wethers for meat too. Did I give you a new word?

    Enjoy your farm.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  15. CeeBee

    I think that a Bush Hog is the brand name of a particular type of brush hog. (Or it could be the “correct” Southern way of pronouncing the name of that machine, in which case, Tom, you’d better start saying it right!)

    I’m working on my southern lingo. I’ve already determined, for example, that there’s no such thing as a one-syllable word. I now get my “ha-yer” cut.

    Reply
  16. Jason

    How about a couple of cows to take care of the grass “problem”

    Next year, perhaps. We plan to start with chickens in the spring, then see how it goes.

    Reply
  17. Anne

    Will be fun to read your updates as you renovate. It is a lovely property. As far as goats, I had two milk goats many years ago and they gave us all the milk we needed. Of course it meant having to milk them 2 times a day. It was work but I enjoyed it.

    The does don’t smell bad like the bucks do. We did not have a buck. We raised a couple of wethers for meat too. Did I give you a new word?

    Enjoy your farm.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  18. CeeBee

    I think that a Bush Hog is the brand name of a particular type of brush hog. (Or it could be the “correct” Southern way of pronouncing the name of that machine, in which case, Tom, you’d better start saying it right!)

    I’m working on my southern lingo. I’ve already determined, for example, that there’s no such thing as a one-syllable word. I now get my “ha-yer” cut.

    Reply
  19. Underground

    It is bushhog. Some words get split into multiples, others get syllables mixed together indistinctly.

    A mower, or finish mower is for when there’s just grass. When it gets too tall for that, or you have tougher plants mixed in it’s time to get it bushhogged. Basically a big really heavy duty mower like you cut hay with. The next step up is usually a dozer or front end loader. And/or fire.

    Goats will do a number on the viny plants as far up as they can reach. They would definitely get the fence cleared off, one side at a time. They’re excellent for clearing out woods with lots of undergrowth. They don’t always do so great at open areas that are overgrown though. Maybe if you confined them.

    The other thing, I don’t know if you have pets, but don’t let them wander. There will be coyotes, and they’ve been known to take small pets from backyards in much more built up areas.

    We had neighbors who lost cats and small dogs to coyotes even back in Burbank — I used to see them out wandering when I walked late at night. My “pet” on the farm will be a large, ferocious dog to protect the chickens.

    Reply
  20. Underground

    It is bushhog. Some words get split into multiples, others get syllables mixed together indistinctly.

    A mower, or finish mower is for when there’s just grass. When it gets too tall for that, or you have tougher plants mixed in it’s time to get it bushhogged. Basically a big really heavy duty mower like you cut hay with. The next step up is usually a dozer or front end loader. And/or fire.

    Goats will do a number on the viny plants as far up as they can reach. They would definitely get the fence cleared off, one side at a time. They’re excellent for clearing out woods with lots of undergrowth. They don’t always do so great at open areas that are overgrown though. Maybe if you confined them.

    The other thing, I don’t know if you have pets, but don’t let them wander. There will be coyotes, and they’ve been known to take small pets from backyards in much more built up areas.

    We had neighbors who lost cats and small dogs to coyotes even back in Burbank — I used to see them out wandering when I walked late at night. My “pet” on the farm will be a large, ferocious dog to protect the chickens.

    Reply
  21. Marla

    Having lived for a couple decades on similar land, my recommendation is to mow the weeds NOW. It’s not the plants you see now that are really the problem, as they are probably annuals (except the tree saplings). The problem is the hundreds of seeds that they are growing and maturing as we speak. The worst things for good soil fertility are the traditional weed killers (2-4-D, roundup, etc), and if you’ve got weeds coming up everywhere next spring you will be tempted to take the easy way out and spray.
    Another name for a bushhog is a rotary cutter. I have an old Ford 3000 diesel and a heavy bushhog and it will go over the top of anything I see in your photos, and mow it flat. Just take it slow in low gear. And do it now (hire a local person to do this, it should only cost a hundred dollars or two – depending on the acreage).

    I think that’s good advice. We’ll hire someone local this time around. Maybe next spring I’ll learn how to be a pro bush-hogger myself.

    Reply
  22. cancerclasses

    What a good dad you are Tom, may all the gods bless you for all the value you add to your family and to the world. I sure they will, you’ve earned it.

    Thank you.

    Reply

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