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An Old Place

Feb
15


One of the enjoyable things about a well-established property is making little discoveries along the way. People have lived, loved, laughed, and worked hard here for well over a hundred years. The barn dates back to the 1890s. The original farmhouse of that era is long gone, and this house was built in the 1930s on almost the exact same spot. Some of the foundation stones of the first farmhouse remain–although it may well not have been the actual first homestead on this property, either. It’s likely a log cabin may have stood here before it. My own ancestors to this area started out in log cabins along the Pocatalico before settling in and building larger homes.

Much of my scant three months since moving in here has been spent just trying to unpack, paint, and tackle one calamity after another. The brink of winter is a rough time to move into an old house. In other words, I’ve had little time to explore or even notice what is right under my nose.

Morgan pointed out these steps cut into the bank between the driveway and the creek. They hardly need Geraldo Rivera to unearth them from Al Capone’s vault, of course. I’ve noticed this cut-out in the driveway for some time. I was just too preoccupied to pay attention to it.

There are steps down the bank to the creek. They’re quite overgrown, but we pulled off some of the grass and weeds. It will need a little more effort to uncover them completely.

I think there are more, as there is another one poking out down here.

I’d like to get them cleaned up. They make a handy short-cut down the bank to where you can find a makeshift narrow bridge–

–across the creek.

And take some treats to the goats.

The goats are campaigning for a quick cleanup of the short-cut steps so they can get more treat attention.

At Stringtown Rising, the porch overlooked the goat yard, so tossing treats was easy. I didn’t have to go down to the gate if I was busy. Now, if I’m busy, I tend to just hand the treats out the back door to Casper. The goats have been missing out a little bit.

This time, it was the sheep who missed out.

Maybe tomorrow, sheepies.

They are happy enough if I just get moving and hand them their daily hay ration. In the hay loft, I still have more than half of my square bale store, but down in the rear barn yard, they have been cleaning up and they will be out of round bales by the end of February.

The square bales will go fast when I have to start sharing them with the cows. A cow can eat a square bale a day all by itself. With the mild winter we’ve had, I’m hoping for an early spring or I will be hauling hay again before you know it. I have fencing scheduled for the second half of March to run electric around the first upper pasture for the cows, and to get the Park field sectioned off.

I also want to get Blueberry Hill fenced in as an additional connected field to the barn yard. There is pasture-a-plenty here. Like the house, it just needs a little work this first year.

On Sunday, after the power came back on, the water didn’t. The water didn’t work for two days. I started to think something was wrong. (How could anything be WRONG with the water???) Turned out, the pipes were just frozen. It was 16 degrees overnight from Saturday to Sunday, and because of my “Coco-brain” for the past week and dearth of attention to the news, I hadn’t been prepared. However, because I have new pipes–which despite being re-routed and newly insulated will still freeze if it gets that cold–they expanded rather than breaking, and once they thawed, all was well. The whole episode didn’t really bother me that much because I was busy slobbering on Coco and I didn’t care if I had water. I had my dog. But I think it’s a sign that I have turned a corner here. Frozen pipes were a calamity before, but now they’re not. The new expandable pipes will hold me in good stead for many years, even when I forget to watch the news and run a trickle of water overnight.

And even with the remains of the last snow on the ground, I can feel Spring coming. I’m very grateful to be here, despite the work and the worries over the past few months, and I’m ready for green.

I can’t wait to see the grass growing. Food for the animals that comes right up out of the earth. There are a lot of little miracles in the world every day. You just have to stop and–

–see.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on February 15, 2012  

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  1. 2-15
    6:41
    am

    The odd steps are intriguing. Wonder what they was used for? Wonder if there as a old cellar there at one time for keeping things cold. Funny how they poured the cement right around them.

    I live in a old house. My husbands grandparents built it. From time to time we still find odd and questionable things as to why they did this or that. Old homes have history that likes to be discovered from time to time I think.

    How is Coco doing?

  2. 2-15
    6:45
    am

    Diane, I’m going to see Coco today. I hear she’s doing fine and might get an early release!

  3. 2-15
    7:01
    am

    Nice to see that things are becoming more even and less disasters!

    Love the photo of Casper.

    Thanks for this, what a great way to start my day!

    Judi

  4. 2-15
    7:34
    am

    Can’t wait to see the spring grass! And if the furry mowers don’t get to it first I bet you have at least one hillside covered in violets. squeee!!!

  5. 2-15
    7:57
    am

    What an exciting find…mysterious steps! Reminds me of the “upping stone” at your other place. I can “see” a rustic bridge crossing your creek at the bottom of the steps.
    Wouldn’t it be cool to find some old pictures of your place that show the former house!
    Thanks for the hay update, I was wondering how the hay was holding out. Sounds like you’re doing ok there, spring will be here soon.

  6. 2-15
    8:20
    am

    I love your second shot of feeding the goats. I didn’t see Casper’s nose in there the first time I looked!

  7. 2-15
    8:21
    am

    Miracle…”an amazing or remarkable thing that seems to be against the laws of nature” Yep we miss them all the time. Glad you’re finding time to see them :-)

  8. 2-15
    8:27
    am

    I love this post and love your optimism. What a winter you’ve had. But the animals are fine, you’re fine, Morgan’s fine, and spring is on the way. And Coco will be home soon.

  9. 2-15
    9:56
    am

    Perhaps the steps were used long ago to get to the Spring House, and they didn’t want to lose them, faster access to the creek?? Love your blog by the way!! My fiancee and I are gearing up to make cheese!! Can’t wait to see our first offerings to the “Mighty Cheese Cave”. =)

  10. 2-15
    10:00
    am

    your place is full of mysteries~~I’m sure you will uncover more as you find the time.I love it. When you see COCO give her a hug from me.So happy COCO lives!!!

  11. 2-15
    11:40
    am

    Can you explain what the square foundation is in the goat yard?
    Looks to me as if it would make for a good setting for a chicken house.
    The fliers of the flock would be able to escape outside danger, by clearing the dog wire fence. While the others keep down the bugs in the yard, mingle with the goats and be protected by Coco when she returns.

  12. 2-15
    11:44
    am

    Hi Long time watcher but first time commenting! May I suggest to use one of these http://www.thermocube.com/ Thermo cubes… our feeds stores here in Colorado carry them… But you plug in your heat tape or what ever and when the temp goes down to say 32, it turns on and then turns off when things warm up… They are a life saver for someone like me who forgets to turn on things, and wake up to frozen things!

  13. 2-15
    12:03
    pm

    Your new place is wonderful! I can’t wait till the party on the farm to get to see it. I am so glad you got Coco back.

    Peanut’s mom aka Teresa :D

  14. 2-15
    12:14
    pm

    I’m so happy to have time you “see”….You’ve proven you are strong! Time to “smell the roses!”
    Give Coco a hug for me, too!

  15. 2-15
    1:00
    pm

    Sounds like things have turned around at “The Old Place!” :snoopy:

    And your Kickstarter project is moving along nicely! Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  16. 2-15
    1:19
    pm

    Did the rest of you hear it? I distinctly heard Clover say “A BIT? The goats have missing out a LITTLE BIT?!!” We’ve been neglected, tossed aside like, like…last year’s hat. Nothing but grass and hay to eat, nothing to look forward to. It’s been –sob– I can’t tell you…” I think Clover can be a bit of a drama queen at times.

    Suzanne, building a wider footbridge might be a good practice project for your new tools. A couple of 2×4′s with planks nailed across, just a wider version of your current plank bridge. It would give you practise in sawing and nailing, and if you made a mistake it wouldn’t matter a whit.

  17. 2-15
    7:46
    pm

    “It was spring in the meadow, it was spring on the farm…” wasn’t there a kid’s book that started that way? It will be great exploring and making plans for your new place this year.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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