Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Buying The Farm

Well I know everyone must be wondering what I'm up to. Yeah, we're actually buying the farm. Or at least it used to be a farm. And I swore I'd never move again until the day they carry my bones out of here. Right... :)

Years ago, when #2 son Brian was born, we needed construction done on our present home to make it bigger and more 'family friendly'. That was when we met the wonderful folks that own this place in the pictures below. Over the years they've done a lot of work for us, and we've also become good friends who spend time at each other's homes. I always loved their place, which has gentle rolling land, a Civil War era house, and a classic old dairy barn on the property. The big 1-1/2 acre pond they dug draws all kinds of wildlife. There are about 13-1/2 (A2 surveyed) acres of land involved here too. I told the family years ago that if their place ever goes up for sale, let us know and if we're in the position to do so, we'll buy it. Guess what? :D

I'll admit this screen capture is not the greatest shot, but cheerier than any of mine because this was a summer pic and the rest were taken on a raw, cold and windy March day that threatened a big rainstorm.

Below is how it looked the day we were there. The house is a center Chimney cape of which the main part measures roughly 31'x38' and the ell is about 30'x18'. It does have a dirt cellar and a mortared footing. Lots of rough hewn beams in this place, many exposed in the kitchen/dining area of the ell. A lot of that kitchen has been renovated with slate flooring, a chimney and woodstove hookup, and custom cabinetry made from old oak pallets. A center brick console for the old gas stove will not accommodate my oversize range, but will make me a wonderful food prep island and storage area. The massive brick fireplace in the livingroom will be a cozy spot to gather around in winter. The owners had a masonry business among other endeavors and there is amazing brickwork throughout. They were doing some serious renovation when there was a very sad and untimely death in the family some years back and everything planned kind of came to a screeching halt.

 I love this old place so much! It's on a rural highway, but in an area of country homes, farms and wooded lots with deer, geese, turkeys and so on. And it has so much potential!
 This garage is across the driveway from the house. It is 50'x20' and has electricity to the one finished bay, but all throughout the floors are cement.You could get at least 2 more bays in there and we will eventually be finishing them off. Whoo hoo, no more parking out in the weather! The tank and the mobile home at the left (the brown peak building is not attached and was used as an office) will be leaving the property. The driveway itself is partly hard surface (well past the house) and the rest is well-packed sand and gravel that industrial vehicles were able to drive regularly on. 
The pond you can see a bit of here is on the left side of the driveway but well set back. The house is well above it and I've seen no signs of flooding around the garage, even with our recent heavy rains. Ducks, geese, fish, frogs and all sorts of wildlife love that area. There are deer on the property too. And woodchucks, so the large garden that is up by the road will have to be fenced. I didn't get a picture of that as the day we were there was quite busy with paperwork to go over and questions to be asked and answered. I'll have more pictures coming.
Across from the garage and downhill from the house is the old dairy barn, which is 80'x36' without the attached milk room. That annex I'm claiming as my potting shed. Part of the barn has electricity and it all has cement floors with the central manure trough, except for the horse stalls out back. It does need a lot of TLC, but the beam structure looks sound to me and it doesn't lean or sag. That is a metal roof, which could use a bit of patching but does not seem to leak very much. Lots of storage there. I love this old building for its historic New England look and I hope we will be able to restore it someday. All the tanks and storage stuff in this picture and the one of the far end below will be removed. I don't plan on having animals but it would be nice to be able to walk in and out and have a handy place to lawn and yard equipment and furniture under cover. We have an assortment of that, and can always use dry storage! 
This end of the barn faces the back of the property and the next building pictured.
This is the workshop, and it is 40'x22', build mostly of cement blocks with a cement floor. Inside it is one huge bay large enough to park a tractor trailer, and has a mezzanine area for storage as well as electricity and plumbing. It sits well below the barn on the right facing the big hard packed sand and gravel turnaround. The workshop has already been claimed by the other half, and I've got no problems with that. ;) There is a roll up garage door for it that we will have to put back in place. They changed trailer heights in the trucking business and so had to remove the roll up door and cut the opening taller. That door is still on the premises and will be a future project.

A box trailer we own is also on the place, and I'm told there is a concrete loading dock with ramp that the owners are willing to move our trailer up to so we can use that for storage too. The lot is zoned to allow such things as trailers, tractors, and large equipment so that is not going to be a problem with the town. We had to move the trailer off our current property because our town would no longer allow it.
This is a view of the house from the workshop, looking past the back of the barn. That side of the barn is where the horse stalls are. Yeah, there will be some cleanup involved in reclaiming this place, but nothing we haven't faced before. It has a nice little side lawn on that side with a considerable drop off.
ve the view! 
The well, which I have been assured is good and has never run dry. You see these dug wells on a lot of country places.
One of the barn cupolas. Don't know why they intrigue me so much. I want to keep those and the metal roof on the barn if possible. 
A more closeup of the house from the back. You can really see the end of the ell in this one. Owner built or repointed chimneys show a lot of pride in craftsmanship. I am in awe of the brickwork here. 
That is the attached milk room I was talking about that I want to turn into my gardening shed. There's room in there for all my tools, growing shelves with lights, and the potting table I have in the cellar at my present residence. I believe this annex of the barn also has electricity, if not, it will. We will likely add a greenhouse/garden window in the future. My own space to work in at last! There is a lot of equipment on the property that will be removed over the next several months, and so things like these tanks in the picture will be going bye bye. 
The fireplace I was talking about earlier. This was the only indoor picture I had time to snap, but I absolutely fell in love with it. The thing is massive and it becomes a wall in the room behind it. Brick is something I love the look of and it throws a lot of heat. The granite hearth in the front is stone taken from a building that was demolished in a nearby city. The ceilings are low like this throughout most of the house, because this was built long before present codes took effect. Easier to dust or paint and less expensive to heat, so I am not complaining.
A final look at the place closer up, showing the ell much better. While the cellar is dug out, there is a furnace and water heater down there on blocks, and it is spacious enough to offer both wood and canned good storage on shelves. The attic over the main part of the house can potentially be turned into another large open floor plan room, and no, I don't mind chimneys in it. My present master bedroom was designed around an exposed brick chimney which throws enough heat to make the room and hallway outside toasty comfortable. With new flooring and upgraded insulation this attic would at least suffice for dry storage, and the slant vs width allows for quite a bit of usable space you can walk through. The roof is good.

We know we have our work cut out in refurbishing this place, but that is something we've handled before, and know what is doable by owner, and what you need a pro for. So it's not as daunting as it looks to be. Right now we are in the financial wrangling stage and once that is done we'll have to pass the house inspection for mortgage and insurance. Once that has passed, we can close. It seems like everything so far has fallen into place, and I hope and pray the rest goes as smoothly. I can't wait until the day I can drive in there and look around and say it's mine! I'm getting all misty eyed just thinking about that. 

I've loved this place as long as I've known about it, and that goes back to my childhood. Back in the 50s, my dad worked for a farm supply and feed company and he used to deliver truckloads of grain, hay, and other supplies to area farms. He worked with my grandfather, and that's how he met my mother. I remember his stories from Sunday drives with the family in the 70s and this dairy farm was one of the places on their route. We would drive through that area and he'd tell us kids and my mother all about it, lamenting the demise of the small, local farmers. There would be horses and the occasional beef steer grazing in the fields, and I'd sigh and wish I lived there.
 And now... I will.  
The best part of all this is not only will we be living only 20 minutes away from where we are now, but some of the younger generation want to live in this house we're currently occupying and will pay all expenses here. So I am taking part of the family and pets with me, and not being forced to sell off the home my boys grew up in until whoever stays here is secure enough financially to buy us out. These are responsible young people who are dying for a place of their own in a tough economy, so this is win-win for all of us. 

I will have more pictures and updates down the road.

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