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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