By the time the last few renovation tasks were completed and we’d unpacked all the boxes and arranged all the furniture, it was time to leave town for the holidays. It’s only been in the past few weeks that I’ve experienced really living here on the ol’ mini-farm.
As I was going through our 2011 pictures to gather material for the Naughton Family 2011 DVD (my version of a photo album), the before-and-after really sunk in. As I explained when I announced that we’d bought a mini-farm, it was only because of Chareva’s considerable imagination that we ended up here. I took a quick look at the place and was ready to bolt. It doesn’t make a good first impression when the front pastures look like this:
Well, no big deal … someone with a bush hog can take care of that mess. I wasn’t put off yet.
Then we saw the house. Every single window looked like this:
Even the garage doors had huge burglar bars over them. There were security cameras everywhere, with wires hanging loosely from the walls and ceilings. The doors — even the ones inside the house — had multiple deadbolts on them. I assumed the owner had a touch of paranoia. Later, as the owner was moving out, Chareva learned part of the paranoia was because of this:
Yup … the previous owner was the old-fashioned type who kept her savings in a basement safe. I guess if my entire net worth was all in one place, I’d have it surrounded with burglar bars and security cameras as well.
She never spent any of that net worth on little matters such as cleaning, so the entire house was filthy. I don’t know if you can tell from this picture, but the stairs and floors all over the house were covered with dust, mold, dirt and dog hair:
As a guy, I don’t put a lot of thought into how a bathroom should decorated, but this sure didn’t make me want to buy the place:
The attic was also infested with wasps, some of whom made occasional sorties into the house. The roof over the front porch looked like a wasp airport — the O’Hare version, with constant arrivals and takeoffs.
So when Chareva told me we needed to snap this place up before someone else did, I thought she was joking at first. That’s why she’s the artist and I’m not. She was seeing what the house and land could be, not what they were.
She ended up serving as the unofficial on-site contractor while I went back to full-time work as an independent programmer. My only role in the renovating and decorating (besides paying for it) was making occasional suggestions.
Now that Chareva’s vision is a reality, I thought I’d share some before-and-after shots.
The garage (which the previous owner used as an unfinished basement) is now the girls’ playroom. The garage door is gone, replaced with a wall, door and window. We still need to find a long, narrow rug for the floor, but the girls enjoy watching TV, playing Wii and creating art projects down there.
I wasn’t crazy about the previous owner’s taste in colors: aqua blue and white (dirty, unwashed white). Here’s the entryway before and after:
Here’s the dining room, before and after:
We don’t normally pack so many chairs around the table, but had friends over for dinner yesterday. More on that later. Here’s the living room before and after:
The master bedroom before and after:
Even the halls and stairways look better now:
In the house we rented after moving to Tennessee, Chareva’s “office” was one side of a large room she shared with the girls — their playroom. Not great for focusing on work when they were home.
Now she’s got her own:
She can see down into into the kitchen from there, which makes it convenient if she’s working on a project while something’s cooking on the stove. I took this picture from her office stairs yesterday as she was preparing a big ol’ pot of her low-carb chili:
The kitchen is the one room in the house we decided to deal with later. The only change was having the floor re-tiled. Chareva was making chili yesterday because we invited my friend Jim from work (who had us out to his house for what Alana later dubbed “The greatest Thanksgiving ever!“) and his family out for a visit.
One of the many aspects of living here that I love is seeing how the girls have taken to it. Before our Saturday visitors arrived, we had the shin-deep grass in the front pasture cut. The girls decided to gather up some grass for mommy’s compost heap, and (of course) play in the stuff.
Now that’s good, clean (in a manner of speaking) fun.
For my own version of fun on the farm, I decided to turn that pasture (for now, anyway) into a three-hole frisbee golf course. Jim and I played several rounds together, while Sara and two of his girls did likewise. (Despite assuring me he had no experience with the game, Jim scored a string of birdies. I didn’t.)
I read up on Frisbee golf courses online. I could create a regulation nine-hole course around the property, complete with shots through trees and over the creek, the kind of challenges that make the real courses interesting. I may do that … but of course eventually I’d be sharing the course with whatever critters Chareva decides to raise.
And perhaps with critters she doesn’t decide to raise. Last week, she took this picture out our bedroom window one morning around 6:00 a.m. The lighting is lousy because of the hour, but you get the idea. Deer were ambling around our front yard:
We’re not exactly farming yet. Chareva still has to pick her locations for raising chickens and planting various gardens. We’d like to grow pumpkins and sweet potatoes somewhere on the property, and Sara is determined to raise a few watermelons. Sheep, a dairy cow, maybe a goat … that’s all up in the air for now.
But I can already tell you I love life on the little farm.