We’re just getting started on our farm, and lest anyone be disillusioned, let me be the first or the fifteenth to tell you: it’s hard work.
I mentioned before that someone mentioned she’d thought we were planning to “live off the land” and “go pioneer” and therefore use only hand tools, preferably ones we’d fashioned ourselves, or something like that.
Sure, we’re prepping to do just that, if it comes to it, and even go off-grid, assuming there’s a grid to go off at that point.
But in the meantime, there are two of us, occasionally three of us. And a couple new neighbors. Well, they aren’t new, we are, but you take my meaning.
Let me explain what we’ve accomplished in three and a half months:
First, the house had to emptied. Literally, stuff was stacked everywhere. The seller’s wife had passed away five years prior to the sale, and her sewing machine, etc., were still on the kitchen table. There was furniture—cruddy, torn-up junk, and more junk and more junk. Inside and on all three decks. EVERYWHERE.
There was also a long-neglected yard, as well as 35 acres. You could barely see beyond the house itself, let along make your way through the brush. The landscaping, and yes, there was some, was so overgrown and scrub trees were approaching the 6-foot-tall mark.
There is no way we’d be finished with any one of these things if we were playing pioneer. Or if our friends—and neighbors—hadn’t helped out.
The biggest issue is the time we have and the number of things to be done. Our move date is just over ten months away—but due to time and jobs and school for the kid, we’ve really only got about two months to actually work on the place.
Now, you might think, with a barn and all, we’ve got room to just haul everything down here and then work on fixing things up. Have you ever tried to remodel a house while you’re living in it? It’s a royal pain. So we want to have that finished prior to our move date, to avoid said pain but also to avoid moving things twice. NOTHING comes into the house right now that we don’t have to have or aren’t going to be using.
So we have projects. But sometimes, one project gets in the way of the next one. See, if I were giving you advice on “how to” do this, I’d remind you of the “water, food, shelter” mantra. The top three survival needs. In that case, we have a pond and well, we have stored and growing food, and we have a house. And, yes, a barn.
We hadn’t really planned on the house remodel, very much anyway. It was a passing thought, as in “Oh, sure, we can live in this space.” But then we realized this was it, we weren’t planning on another move, so we decided to make a few changes. And honestly, living in a house with literally two rooms (not counting the lean-to) can be a little constricting. Sure, I love great open spaces, but OUTSIDE, not inside.
So, walk with me through the front door: one long room, approximately 15X30, living room and kitchen. No big deal, except a lack of wall space and no wall oven, which is something I’ve wanted for a long time; and not a great deal of counter space, which is needed for baking and canning and so forth.
To your right, is a doorway. No actual door. Farther along the center wall of the house, in the kitchen, is another doorway. No door. Walk with me through that first doorway.
To your right is the front of the house, with a bank of windows along the front and side. Immediately to your left was a walk-in closet. This entire space is also about 15X30, but that stupid closet went nearly halfway across the room. The other side of it was the shower and all the rest of the bathroom, with windows around the Jacuzzi corner tub.
While it’s true that our house is nearly in the middle of 35 acres, someone could easily come down the drive and be looking right in the windows, even if unintentionally, or if we had company, or—well, we were getting a little tired of yelling “Bathroom!” so anyone present could avert their eyes…
So. We took down the closet—we have an antique armoire, and frankly, that’s all we’ll need—and added an eight-foot wall across the room, with doorways on each end, for my office. The bathroom is getting a six-foot wall across the tub area, with an opening from the middle portion, the bedroom. We already put a door between the bathroom and kitchen.
The kitchen will get added counter space and cabinets, and my wall oven. Ovens, actually. And a six-foot wall to sort of divide the kitchen and living room, mostly to provide a place for my antique sideboard—come on, we all have those things we’re unwilling to part with, no matter how much downsizing we do!
“The Plan” was to do everything outside and in the barn over this summer, then work on the house during the winter. Not that we won’t still be doing that! But because we had to remove SO MUCH plywood from the house, we started on that—to reuse that plywood in the barn for storage units. It all works out, but that means we have several projects all going at once.
Which brings me to the work aspect. Once we’re moved in, we’ll first finish all the projects that weren’t already completed, and then, eventually, we’ll have maintenance mode.
That doesn’t mean we get to “retire” and do whatever we want, whenever we want. There are gardens to check, fruit trees and bee hives to maintain, fencing to rebuild and reinforce, compost to work, firewood to cut, trash to burn and dispose of, plus the usual housecleaning and cooking and laundry and all the chores of living. Yes, we’ll still have a bills to pay too. A few.
And prepping. Always prepping. For whatever comes.