No Old Farmhouse Tour could be complete without visiting the grounds. (If you missed any of the previous Old Farmhouse Tour posts, click here and scroll down to the Old Farmhouse Tour links!) This old farm has been in the family for a hundred years and the grounds carry as much history as the house. Even the road has its own stories. This is a 72-acre farm, shaped somewhat like a butterfly, and the road crosses right through the middle of it. Back when I was a little girl, the pavement ended right in front of this old farmhouse. In the old days (and to some degree, even now) hard road was politically-driven. Power and influence gets asphalt, and my cousins have always been a political family. My cousin is the current county prosecutor. His father, my Great-Aunt Ruby’s son, Bob, was a state house delegate. My Great-Uncle Carl wasn’t a politician per se, but he was a prominent local Democrat, a farmer, and an oil company man. Carl wanted this road paved, and he got it–right to his farm and no further. When they sent the road crew out, they told Carl to cut a measuring rod 9 feet long for the crew to use to make the road. Carl didn’t want a nine-foot road so he cut it 12 feet, and he got a 12-foot road because nobody double-checked him. Carl knew how to get things done.
And my Great-Aunt Ruby knew how to keep her yard tidy, so the farm was divided by more than pavement. She designated one side of the road as the men’s side of the road, and the other side as the women’s. Nothing unsightly allowed on the girls’ side.
One of the interesting things on the boys’ side is this old building where Carl generated his own electricity for the farm for many years. The farm, like many farms in this area, also had gas wells, and the farm enjoyed free gas for heat and light for decades. The light at the pole outside the house was never turned off. Back in those days, they thought the free gas would last forever, but it’s gone now.
Besides working for the oil company, Carl was a real farmer. He had cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens. They also always kept a pony, for their kids, and later for their grandchildren and other visiting relatives’ children. One of my most vivid memories from visiting here as a little girl was the day I lost their pony. For some reason I can’t imagine, I was allowed to take off with the pony down the road, which was dirt past the farmhouse, and the pony got away from me. I can still see the puddles in the dirt road as I ran screaming and crying after the pony, which I couldn’t catch. I came sobbing around the back of the farmhouse to find Ruby in the garden, where she could typically be found, and told her I’d lost her pony. She told me it would come back, and it did. I don’t remember her ever letting me take off with her pony on my own again, though.
As the current owner of the farm, my cousin’s interests are prominent on the boys’ side of the road now. Back in a holler behind the barns, he keeps his collection of old vehicles. He’s an old engine enthusiast and he likes to take three old cars and put them together into one that works. Which explains why you can find three Scouts, three VW bugs, three Mack trucks, and three S-10 pickups around here. He’s got enough projects lined up to last a lifetime…. Unable to resist an interesting vehicle to add to his collection, he picked up that old ambulance a couple of years ago. It actually runs, and on occasion he lets the kids drive it around the meadow for kicks.
Like ghosts haunting the landscape, reminders of the past dot the grounds. Left, an old, rusted corn crib. Right, a flywheel, part of an oilfield pump system.
And then there’s my cousin’s biggest project of all, a reproduction of an old country general store. He’s been working on this one for a couple of years. The shell of the building is completed, and much of the interior work is done. Inside, there’s an old-fashioned store counter with an antique register. He needs to put up the shelving and clean up. (I’ll take pictures inside the store in another post someday–right now, he has so much stuff stacked on the porch, I can’t get in the door.) He says he plans to sell fireball candy when he opens his store.
Here on the neat and tidy girls’ side of the road are the three houses that make up this family farm. There’s the 100-year-old farmhouse, where I am currently, and the two-story blue house where my cousin, his wife, and their teenage son live.
Don’t you just know Georgia would live across an enchanted little footbridge over a creek in a little fairy cottage surrounded by pine trees?
Also on the girls’ side of the road is the enormous garden (photo from last spring) and a quaint old wash house. Notice the standing farm bell in the foreground to call the men in from the field for supper.
One of my favorite spots is this old well house. I think it’s adorable, though I can’t imagine carrying buckets of water into the house for cooking and cleaning and bathing. I doubt my predecessors in this old farmhouse thought it was as cute as I do.
Every farmhouse tour ends here, on the perfect porch, where on warm summer days, there is no better place in the world to sip a glass of something cold, sway in the porch swing, listen to the soft breeze making music in the wind chimes, read a book, wait for neighbors to pull over, and talk for hours.
Here on the big front porch, not much has changed in a hundred years.
Kim A. says:
Wonderful tour of the grounds, Suzanne.
All the neat stuff is on the guys’ side. 😆
Funny how, decades ago in my old home town, we thought all that stuff was junk. Dad was a great collector of old, rusted out cars too (from the 40s & 50s) but he never actually did anything with the wrecks. A section of our back field looked like a dump (like everyone else’s in the area.) I’ve seen pictures of the property in recent years, from Dad’s visits back to Gaspé, and now the place looks like it could be featured in Better Homes and Gardens.
Our house never had a “perfect” porch, however. Still doesn’t.
On February 12, 2008 at 7:32 am
:elephant: Enjoyed the tour of your area.
On February 12, 2008 at 7:35 am
:treehugger: I think you’ll need to do a Spring tour of the natural resources around the farm, like the pond and the creek, which are literally hopping with life! Don’t forget the beautiful trees and flowers!! :butterfly:
On February 12, 2008 at 8:15 am
Suzanne McMinn says:
I know! It’s really a bad time of year to do a grounds tour, isn’t it? LOL.
On February 12, 2008 at 8:17 am
Groan. I want to move to there… I want to live on your front porch!!
On February 12, 2008 at 8:28 am
Mental Pause Mama says:
So wonderful, and I am not the least surprised that the girls’ side is so much nicer! :fryingpan:
On February 12, 2008 at 8:29 am
Brings back memories, Suzanne. I should have taken pictures.
On February 12, 2008 at 8:49 am
Wow! That was a great tour! :yes:
On February 12, 2008 at 9:06 am
You farm is my dream. I was born in WV andlived there for 36 years. Very proud to be a Hillbilly. I think living in the city is great don’t get me wrong. There is just something special about being able to sit on your front porch with some sweet tea and having neighbors honk as they go by or having them spot to sit and talk for a spell. I love all the “old” things that give the farm character. We love to garden. We use old farm plows, mowers…as garden accents in the yard…heck we even have two sets of box springs. When we moved to this house in OH two summers ago, we had an Amish barn built. The front porch has an old ringer washer filled with flowers in the summer. My dream is to have an old log cabin in the mts. with a pond. But for now I will just read your blog and dream. Thanks for sharing!
On February 12, 2008 at 9:12 am
I love the history of it all. Here, the town has a lot of history but we built our house so there’s not a lot of stories to tell. Yet.
On February 12, 2008 at 10:33 am
Looking at those steep cliffs and mountain areas in the background,really brings back fond memories of my childhood. I had two brothers and one sister. we were born and raised in the foothills of the applachians. We didn’t have indoor plumbing, Outhouses were fun for us especially the two seaters. Carried water in from the pump house and got a bath in a galvanized washing tub every saturday night whether we needed it or not. Make shift toys were all we knew. Cut paper dolls from Sears and Robuck catalog for paper dolls and then return it to the outhouse, we never heard of soft toilet tissue. put on our shoes and collect cream cans stomp our feet down into the middle and clomp around like horses. That usually got us a scolding from Mom It ruined our shoes after a while. Times were hard back then but we didn’t know it. We were just as happy as if we had good sense.
On February 12, 2008 at 10:34 am
Robin G. says:
“Like ghosts haunting the landscape, reminders of the past dot the grounds.”
My family comes from an area not far from yours, and I’ve always been fascinated by the little remnants of buildings. No one’s got the money to haul things away, so it rots where it stands. Sixty year old double-wides, the old stone supports for a bridge long gone, a door to a caved in root cellar. The foundation of my great-great-grandparents’ house. The graveyard on the family farm with five generations of my family buried.
It’s sobering, and makes me wonder whether I’ll make a mark on the earth that my children’s grandchildren will look at and think of me. And whether or not that’s as important as other things.
Whoa. Way to navel gaze first thing in the morning. Good post.
On February 12, 2008 at 10:48 am
What a neat place! I especially love your porch!!! I would sit in that swing all summer and sip mint juleps and read good books. Um… and my nanny would play with the kids while the unicorns danced through the trees. Hahahaaa! That sort of peace and quiet are myth in my world, but I do love that porch. That’s the next addition I want to make to our house. I love our house but the porches were kind of an afterthought.
On February 12, 2008 at 11:09 am
Truly loved the tour. You are one lucky girl to be among all that family history there. My grandparents lived in WI and I vaguely remember their farm before they sold it. Wish it was still there….
On February 12, 2008 at 11:56 am
Gloria Jean says:
Good Morning from urban California! I’ve been starting my day with your posts for a while now. They always make me smile. Thanks!
On February 12, 2008 at 12:05 pm
Suzanne McMinn says:
Thanks, everybody! You guys make MY day for stopping by, and for commenting! Thank you!
On February 12, 2008 at 12:56 pm
Thanks for the wonderful tour..it’s a shame that young people today will not have the memories we do, walking in the woods, playing in the rainstorms (no lightning or thunder) and just enjoying the wonderful sights and sounds of nature. So much of our past is lost to “new and improved” which is neither..
On February 12, 2008 at 12:57 pm
Great tour :thumbsup:
On February 12, 2008 at 2:13 pm
Thank you for the tour. I miss swinging on the front porch. I used to do that at my Grandmothers house.
On February 12, 2008 at 2:46 pm
Tori Lennox says:
I loved the tour, Suzanne!!! I want to see more!!!
On February 12, 2008 at 3:57 pm
Suzanne McMinn says:
Thanks, Tori! There are a few more things I’m planning with the Old Farmhouse Tour, and I’ve also got another, brand new tour series planned–coming soon! Can’t tell you yet what this tour is about–it’s a secret! 😆
On February 12, 2008 at 4:02 pm
Oh a secret 😕 This is all so very fascinating to someone who lives in the boring suburbs. My grandparents did live on a farm but it was rented and torn down long ago. My mom tells me stories though. And you most definitely have the bestest porch
On February 12, 2008 at 4:18 pm
What a great place, Suzanne!
On February 12, 2008 at 4:57 pm
Makes me think so much of my great grandparents farm in Oklahoma City–land grant property from statehood there. So many neat things for a kid to explore and an attic full of old things to play with. It backed onto a property that an uncle and my grandfather owned so you could walk all the back and forth. It’s all gone now for subdivisions since the city has grown so much over the years. I do have such fond memories of it though.
On February 12, 2008 at 5:07 pm
Thank you so much for this tour of history. So much of West Virginia looks like this. Tours like this will continue to motivate me into completing my own step back into history…only here in Maine. Old farm history is the best and yours is truly a work of its own. I can’t wait to see the next tour.
On February 12, 2008 at 5:57 pm