Going, Going, Gone

The old house has finally come down.

How well I remember the first time I laid eyes on that old farmhouse!

We had seen the ad for the farmstead in the Sunday paper and had driven two hours with three kiddos under of the age of five to check it out.

We went around the curb, down a hill, up the other side and turned into the driveway.

No. Please no.

It was ugly, tired, saggy and wind blown after a century of sitting on the hill. A horrible 1960’s renovation had removed most of it’s former glory and the farm crisis in the 80’s left it vacant for awhile. Thankfully, it had indoor plumbing – although some of it was a garden hose. The only heat was a wood stove and the floor had a definite slant.

But my husband reminded me that while houses change – the land doesn’t.

And the land was beautiful! Rolling hills, ravines, a farm pond. Beautiful views in every direction! Just what we dreamed of!

We bought it, named it the hovel and moved in.

It sheltered us for more years than I care to remember while we worked on our dream house. Cold winters with frozen pipes. Hot summers canning in the kitchen with mud daubers buzzing around my head.

It was an exciting day when the new house was finished and we could finally move in!

The old farm house has sat empty now for several years.  Every year we said it would have to come down. But year after year other projects were more necessary and there just wasn’t time.

Until this year.

We started August 4th. Piece by piece it came down. Starting with the lathe and plaster.

Windows. Doors.

Then the roof and the second story.

Burning everything we could. What didn’t burn went in a dumpster.

The kids all pitched it. Peter even brought his Bible Study group down to help.

We paused in wonder at the workmanship of one section, and shook our heads in disbelief at the haphazard construction of a later addition.

Almost every day I had a different view.

It was going, going, and then gone.

We saved whatever wood we could and the limestone rock that made the foundation will soon line my flower beds. We had already used much of the trim in our new house.

All that’s left is a dent in the ground.

And the memories.

It was a huge job that we dreaded for years. It’s a wonderful feeling to know it’s done!


Just What Is a Homesteader?

homesteadingYou may have noticed that I often refer to my family as “homesteaders”.

I will admit that it has raised some questions.

Most people think of a homesteader as those brave souls who took up the “free” land offered by the government in the 1800’s.

They lived in tar paper shanties or earthen dugouts while they  “proved” up their section. They survived freakish blizzards and grasshopper plagues while settling up the mid-section of our great country.

That’s not us. (Although some of last winter’s weather was a bit freakish! 🙂 )

Neither are we farmers – or ranchers – or pork producers – or cattle producers – or dairymen. But I think the world of this people (and you should too if you ate anything today!) Some of my closest friends and many relatives would fall into these categories.

Even though we both live in rural America – those folks all have lots of land, big machines, large flocks or herds and they feed the world.

It’s their job and they do it well.

But it’s not us.

We’re homesteaders. We have some land, miniature tractors, a few animals and attempt to feed ourselves.

We don’t make a living from our land – but we try to live off our land.

We raise a few chickens for their eggs and their meat. We may have a few cattle or a few pigs – all with the intent to butcher them for our own needs.

We have a large garden and orchard so we can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. On a good year we even have some to share.

Webster’s dictionary defines a homestead as “The home and adjoining land occupied by a family”.

That’s us. We’re living on the land and making it a home.

We’re homesteaders.