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What Nobody Tells You about Living in a 100-Year-Old Farmhouse Before You Move In

Dec
20

1. Somebody probably died there. Maybe a couple people. Maybe they’re still there. Maybe in that ammo box on top of the pie safe. People are practical in the country. Why buy a fancy urn when there is a perfectly good empty ammo box available?

2. It’s cold. And it’s going to get colder. And the house is not going to get warm. Remember when you were five and you thought living in an igloo would be so neat? Try to be cheerful. Buy an electric blanket and a space heater no later than November. You can forget about finding any in the store after that.

3. You’re going to be cold anyway.

4. Those noises in the wall? That’s mice. Huge, giant, evil mice with flaming red eyes and poisonous fangs. Your cats aren’t going to get them out of the wall for you so just forget about that, but you can stock up on scented candles because when they die there? You’ll be the first to know.

5. Buy really, really long wooden matches. You’ll be less scared that you’re going to blow yourself up if you have long matches when it’s freezing and you’re lighting the gas stove in the cellar porch every night in the winter to keep the pipes from freezing.

6. The pipes are going to freeze anyway.

7. Don’t get excited about buying ten extension cords with multiple plugs to make up for the lack of existing outlets in the house. You’re just going to go home and blow all the circuits.

8. Those slanted floors that were the first thing you noticed when you moved in? You’ll totally forget about them after a few years. So be careful when you’re drinking.

9. No matter the inconveniences, no matter the hardships, living in a slanted little house is a privilege. It might change your life. It will certainly change your perspective.

10. If you can move out before anyone puts you in an ammo box, it’s all good.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on December 20, 2007  

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  1. 12-20
    8:40
    am

    Absolutely priceless, Suzanne.

    I remember the slanted floors in our old farmhouse in Gaspé, but I was too young to drink so they didn’t give me any problem. :lol:

    Moving out before you end up in an ammo box is good!

    -Kim

  2. 12-20
    8:42
    am

    :purr: I think the cat’s picture says it all! When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!!! Or in this case, imaginary heat!!!! :cattail:

  3. 12-20
    11:05
    am

    Love the cat photo! Cats have a lot to teach us, especially about living in an old house! Like….. grow yourself a nice, thick fur coat. You’ll never be cold! Lick yourself clean. That way you will never have to get out of a hot bath into a cold room! Those noises in the walls will be entertainment! And always sleep in the bathroom sink! That way you will have no worries about slanted floors! And what’s an ammo box, anyway? See, no worries!

  4. 12-20
    12:37
    pm

    :snoopy:
    I can identify with the COLD. Even when our 1940′s brick farmhouse is heated it’s still cold! But I love it and the retro tile. I like your site too.

  5. 12-20
    12:49
    pm

    Suzanne,
    Fabulous post! :thumbsup:

    You don’t have to live in a 100-Year-Old Farmhouse to have mice in the walls. Just living in the country will do of that! :eek:

  6. 12-20
    4:35
    pm

    Great post, Suzanne!!! My paternal grandma’s house had slanted floors, but it wasn’t anywhere near 100 years old. It was just poorly built. *g*

  7. 12-20
    4:39
    pm

    Love the photo!

  8. 12-20
    6:34
    pm

    I like the pictures of the house and the cat. No matter how cold, how many times you trip the breaker, or how slanted the floor-it’s still home. *g*
    Great post, have a wonderful evening!

  9. 12-21
    11:27
    am

    LOL on the slanted floor. Eeeewwww on the ammo box. Did you give it a decent burial? It’s probably one of your ancestors.

  10. 12-22
    8:39
    am

    http://chickensintheroad.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/woof.gif
    :woof:

    Hi! I LOVE your site! I am new here, but feel immediately at home. I actually came this close(imagine my fingers close together)to buying a 150 year old farm house that was surrounded by a Christmas Tree Farm. It would have been paradise for me, but after reading your experiences, I think I’m better off in the house I did buy. But, I’ll live vicariously through you, okay?
    Thanks!
    Ro

  11. 12-22
    11:46
    pm

    …Love your blog! I can so relate to this post, we live in an 180 year old log house and ‘slanted’ doesn’t even begin to describe it! lol…

    …Thanks for sharing!

    …Merry Christmas!

    …Blessings… :o)

  12. 1-3
    12:52
    pm

    Just browsed your website – - I really like it!

  13. 1-3
    8:44
    pm

    You’re kidding about the ammo box, right? RIGHT?

    (eyeww.)

  14. 1-3
    9:47
    pm

    No! Everything in this post is completely true! Odd, but true, LOL.

  15. 1-4
    12:07
    pm

    What a great blog! Yes…we, too, live in an old house. The original section is 170+ years old; we’ve been here for 10. We know all about those slanted, cold floors; creaks and groans and now…we know about mice! And I’m NOT happy! On top of that we can’t get a cat b/c my dh and dd#2 are allergic (and our elderly dog just watches them scamper by at night with mild attention)…AND…it’s a very smart mouse…eats everything I put on the traps w/o even setting them off. And I KNOW that they work b/c they are quite successful at catching MY FINGERS when I set them! Sheesh!

    Anyway…thanks for the good reads that you offer.

    Blessings from Ohio

  16. 2-4
    7:16
    pm

    I laughed so hard about the drinking part I woke the cat. :catmeow:

  17. 2-24
    10:16
    am

    Although I don’t live in a 100+ yr old house (close, its 77 yrs old). I do have problems with the water pipes also. I found wrapping them in heat tape (the type that goes on your roof) set with a timer (goes on at night) works good.
    P.S. I just found your site today.

  18. 2-27
    2:18
    pm

    Fortunately, the old farmhouse I found had been updated with a new red metal roof, new white siding, and double pane windows. The upstairs remodel was completed by the prior owners, and they did a fine job.

    Fortunately, from my perspective, they did not remodel the downstairs rooms. I’m blessed with the opportunity to make my home fit me, instead of trying to fit into someone elses idea of the perfect kitchen. (I can beat your turquoise green tiles – mine are yellow with a maroon border!)

    My slanted floor in the bedroom was a challenge since I have a waterbed (my DH sold them for 34 years and just closed his CA store). First DH had to convince me it wasn’t going to simply drop right through the floor when he filled it, and then he had to use a level and blocks of wood to level it so the water didn’t pool at the head of the bed.

    Cold? The first thing I looked for was a property with free gas! (For those not from WV, there is natural gas under many of the farms in the area. Usually the agreement with the gas company operating the well is that you get to use free gas from their well — for life. It’s 17 degrees and snowing. But I’m really toasty warm, and there is no bill at the end of the month. :thumbsup:

  19. 3-12
    9:28
    am

    Thanks for the smiles this morning! Reading your work is a joy!

  20. 3-12
    1:42
    pm

    I just ran across your site VERY accidently looking for wallpaper for my computer. I absolutely love it !

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences like this.

    Lori Evans

  21. 3-21
    2:20
    pm

    So cute! I grew up on a farm…and my current house is very very cold in the winters! Know how you feel! ;) Nicely written.

  22. 4-8
    11:24
    am

    I loved this! I can feel for you as I have been there done that and bought the tshirt (well the long john version). We rented a >100 year old beauty for 3 years. We moved in in Oct which was unseasonably warm but Dec was just the opposite and we were poor at that time and could only afford a small “Tin Wood Stove” for the living room. We threw a mattress on the floor and our 2 teenage girls, my hubby and I all slept beside the stove on a full size mattress. DH and I took turns sleeping and watching the fire afraid we would burn down the house or the fire would go out. Ah those were the days! My girls loved it though.

  23. 4-15
    6:51
    pm

    So glad to have found your website, looking for French bread recipes. We also live in an old farmhouse, which will be 100 years old in 2009. We hope to have a celebration. It was a working dairy farm of 40 some acres and many of the old timers have great stories to tell. We only have 9 tenths of an acre and are now at the edge of town. We are only the third owner. The first from 1909-1920, then 1920-1988, and then us. We have worked hard to “restore” not remodel, and love the wallpaper and high ceilings.
    I will try your French bread! Continue to enjoy your home, as there is nothing better than that old house with character.

    Barb Jacobs
    barbj@olypen.com

  24. 5-31
    6:34
    pm

    We kept our washer and dryer each on a wooden pallet in our cellar. Why? Because whenever it rained hard or spring thawed the show, our old cellar would routinely have water in it. The cement floor has been patched so much over the years that there are high and low spots so that not all the water would head toward the hole in the center of the room.

    My parents kept a long handled squeegee and an old broom down there just for such occasions: “Kids, get on down to the cellar and sweep that water out!”

    Being a teen in the late 1980s meant this was a mortifying chore for me. Heh.

  25. 8-10
    7:20
    pm

    I absolutely love your site. I found out about it this evening while checking the news on WSAZ.com. Beautiful pics, love the goat stories,…and they have to be real…we raised goats for a long time…they are the best. And the old houses, been there done that and loved it.

  26. 10-25
    3:30
    am

    :chicken: Oh the smell of dead mouse in your wall in a pretty special smell. We had one that died in the heating vent to our bedroom. Just far enough in that we could not reach it but far enough out to really stink when ever the heat turned on. I hated sleeping with a lit candle in the bedroom but with out it there just was no sleeping. :mrgreen:
    Oh yes the extension cords. They come in handy when your one and only outlet in the bedroom goes dead. Of course the whole house falls into shambles when one of the dogs trips on the cords and pulls it out of the wall. Thank God for batter operated alarm clocks! :cowsleep:

  27. 11-3
    8:46
    pm

    I so enjoy reading your stories! This one is terrific—you always put a smile in my heart. Thank you!

  28. 1-29
    12:54
    pm

    My farmhouse was 145 years old and it did have slanted floors and mice. I wish I still lived there. Thanks for sharing. You are so funny, you brighten my days.

  29. 3-4
    8:31
    am

    I just bought a 100+ year farm house…We are in the process of remodeling which I know realize we will be doing until we move out. Slanted Floors:check…mice:check,check,check…dead mice:check…extension cords:check…cold:check…pipe problems:check…

  30. 4-26
    7:57
    pm

    Hi! I have been reading your blog for a little while now. We have a farm house that was built in 1880-ish. I love item number 8, 9 , and 10…don’t like to think about anyone dying in our house, though! I posted a link to your page on my blog. Just wanted you to know! Have a great week!

    Hugs,
    Carmen

  31. 12-9
    3:52
    pm

    love it ! and so true :o

  32. 1-5
    1:44
    pm

    What you are not told. The wood under the flooring is so tough that you will burn out a saws all, trying to put in new duct work for a furnace that won’t keep the place warm, in the first place. That plaster on the wall, is not plaster but much closer to concrete and just as hard to drill through.

  33. 1-12
    2:02
    pm

    This is how I feel about this old farm house we live in. I’m being to hate everything about it!!!!!

  34. 2-24
    8:05
    pm

    I can so relate to everything you said! Especially the cold part. We are fortunate (if you want to call cutting, splitting and hauling wood fortunate) to have a gas and a wood furnace in our c.1880 farmhouse and the wood does a much better job at attempting to keep it warm but you’re right, it is never really warm. Our house was a poor farm, so to speak, so we know a lot of people have died here but I am very happy to report we haven’t met any of them yet. And the mice….oh the mice. But I love my house and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  35. 2-27
    2:05
    pm

    We live in a 2 story brick house built in 1876. Walls are brick inside too and the walls are 18″ thick. So you can’t just drive a nail in it. So my husband gets a new tool, its called a hammer drill and special tapcon screws to put anything up! We call our house a work in progress. LOL :snoopy: God Bless, Christine

  36. 3-7
    8:50
    am

    I love this blog. It’s so true. I moved into my 90 year old farmhouse last March, and have spent this first winter figuring out how to close the fireplaces, seal the entrance ways, anything….to keep the gas bill down. LOL
    My first bill was as much as my mortgage payment. I should have guessed when an 85 year old friend came by at Christmas with 2 new crocheted afgans, and then again on valentine’s with another. :)
    But it’s all good and I wouldn’t move for the world.
    I laughed while reading your blog. It’s funny, but oh, so true. Very, very enjoyable for those of us loving the older homes but finding ourselves snuggling a little closer at night.

  37. 4-13
    10:20
    pm

    I love this!!!!! My husband and I bought a 132 yr old parsonage that had not been lived in for 20 years. We are still working on it and will be dead before the house is finished…
    I do have slanted floors, mice in the walls, and so far so good about the amo box..lol
    We do hear footsteps and voices from time to time.
    And when it is mid winter with 2 ft of snow on the grown and below 0 ( we live at the base of the catskill mountains), the saving grace is the electric blanket.
    The day I looked at the house for the first time I asked my husband why do they have so many doors…now I know spending 2 winters in the house.
    I want to thank you for making me laugh out loud reading your blog!
    It was great!!

  38. 6-17
    4:45
    pm

    I know this is a really old post, but it’s a post I found and read over a year ago when I was considering moving into a 100 year old farmhouse… which we did do. And oh my goodness- it’s all true! (Well, we didn’t find anyone in an ammo box). We just renewed our lease, so we were talking and I told my husband that the cold was the worst part, and the mice were the second worse part. First it got cold. Then it got colder. Then it snowed 4 feet (unheard of in Virginia) and the oil people couldn’t get to my house. Then my kids were wearing snow suits in the house, and I had a waterfall in my dining room due to frozen pipes. Maybe I should have paid more attention to your post before we moved in… although I did love the experience enough to renew my lease! Thanks for writing this! :-)

  39. 6-21
    9:09
    am

    I love this post! So true. We found out about that whole space-heater-and-electric-blanket thing the first winter, too. BRRRR! We had to borrow three oil heaters from three different friends — and then we had to figure out how to plug them in so the breaker didn’t keep blowing :]

  40. 7-2
    4:56
    pm

    Our country “palace” was built in a HS shop program, trucked on site and assembled modular style 40 years ago. We’re pier and beam and the house shifts from day to day depending on the moisture (or lack of) in the ground. It’s a real challenge sometimes with the doors. We are fortunate to not be entertained my mice in the house curtesy of our 6 feline house companions.

    The original owner of the house ( the one who commissioned it built and moved onto site) DID die in the house. Sitting in his easy chair in the living room. It’s a good thing the cemetery is within a mile, lol. No ammo boxes here!

    Love your blog.

  41. 8-10
    3:37
    am

    Too funny, this sounds just like our farmhouse in kentucky…yep 1886…and ditto to the rest above…ha ha

  42. 11-14
    1:39
    am

    We lived in a small house in missouri back when my son was a baby and we had to deal with mice all the time , we had an old dresser in my sons room that a mouse was constantly building a small nest in , it seemed like every other day I was cleaning fluff out of the top drawer only to find more the next day (btw the fluff was from cards we had recieved when hubby and I were married :hissyfit: ) and finally one day I went to clean out the fluff only to find 5 little baby mice :? LOL.

  43. 1-29
    10:39
    am

    U are so dang funny, enjoy everything you write:)

  44. 1-31
    2:21
    pm

    Oh my! I remember my Grandma’s home years ago had a slant! You would get a great workout on your calves it was so slanted. HAHA!
    Keep warm! :snuggle

  45. 2-2
    7:19
    pm

    HA! I can totally relate. Our house turns 300 years old this year. We can see outside through the cracks in the corners. And pass papers up stairs (or down stairs) through the gaps between the floor/ceiling boards. Good times!

  46. 3-5
    12:09
    pm

    Oh my god, it’s my house. Ever year from nov. to march everyday I walk thru my house saying that’s it I’m moving.Then from April thru Oct. I love that the house that never gets warm is the coolest place to be.My husband just laughs at because he knows that after living here for 15 years now I’m never leaving this old cold run down takes to much to live in house. Kathy

  47. 6-14
    4:23
    pm

    I want to share a gem of a find I discovered to help with drafts (and rattling windows) in old houses. It’s called Rope Caulk. Buy a bunch. It’s fantastic. It is a sort of rope that’s a putty and you simply mush it in the cracks/gaps holes. If you have true rope windows… make sure to putty the holes where the rope comes out of the window frame, and also cover the rope channels. BTW… the rope caulk pulls off easily when you need it to. No mess. It’s a life savor. Buy early in the Fall as it tends to sell out. Peace :)

  48. 8-23
    4:58
    am

    Loved this article. I bought a 1889 farmhouse last winter and can relate to what you have experienced. I love it! In fact, it gave me the idea to create a website and chronicle my journey to a more simple way oflife and to share the progress of our restoration. Please check it out.

    http://www.quiettimes.webs.com

  49. 3-31
    4:48
    pm

    Oh, goody … found this post again, thankfully – had seen it yesterday and now want to share it with some others. This is one classic post! Absolutely love it! We don’t have a farmhouse (would love to!) but we certainly know about #4 … when the mice die in the walls – NOT pure nectar! :no:

  50. 3-6
    9:05
    am

    Our place is nearly 300 years old, and partially renovated, we have a range in the kitchen powered by wood, and a wood burner in the sitting room, and thats it, no tv no central heating, if we are cold we put on more wood or more clothes, we have electric and since 2006 we have water in the house and now a shower room too .Our water comes piped about a mile from the mountain, and is crystal clear….we are happy with our lot, life is what you make it I say…..Rural Ireland ????…LOVE IT!!

  51. 3-6
    10:33
    am

    Oh I do love this…living in an old farm house…so true, so true.But I love it all, anyway! :)

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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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