Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Optimistic Ten Year Plan

Sometimes I envy people in their brand-spanking new, pre-fab homes: their round objects stay put when dropped on the floor, rather than rolling under the couch towards the sagging inner wall. Their basements are clean, dry rec-rooms and offices, rather than damp, cobwebby cellars. Painting the walls is a straightforward task, rather than the exercise in dexterity, balance, and creativity required when painting the angles, heights, and quirks of old walls.

We knew when we bought this homestead that our to-do list would last us into our golden years. Some of the barns are close to 150 years old. The foundation of the original homestead is overgrown with lilacs and rasperberry canes, and the "new" house is pushing 80. We'll never be "done". We can spend a whole weekend at work, and know that the items struck off the list will be replaced by other jobs.

There are ongoing chores like cleaning the chicken coop.

There are also procrastinator jobs like taking old stuff out of the drive shed and to the dump.

The unused pastures need combing for tree limbs and old brush, in preparation for the mammals we hope to get in the next year or two.

We're waging an ongoing war against these persistent devils.

And then there's the wood: as soon as the winter is over, the sounds of the chainsaw and axe can be heard, preparing for next year's cozy winter warmth.

The barns look at us with pleading, neglected faces.

And haylofts await exploration...to be undertaken as soon as we get around to repairing the many delapidated ladders leading to long-anticipated adventures.

One might despair at all there is to do on a small farm, especially when one has an outside job and small children to care for. But some of our best days are those we spend puttering around, accomplishing small things, knowing that we'll never be "done". We'll spend our lives reclaiming the former beauty of this place we call home. We'll likely never travel to Florida for winters, or spend our summers at a cottage. We'll be mucking and digging and hammering and fixing away. We'll never be done, and we'll never be bored.


  1. And your homestead will forever be yours. Your personal stamp will be all over it and you'll look at the barn and say "yes, we did that." There's something really special about restoring something to beauty, not only the finished product (if it's ever "finished") but also the journey to get there. Those are the memories you'll cherish -- far more than the "perfect" cookie cutter brand-new home.

    Enjoy the character and uniqueness that comes with your beautiful place!

    City Roots, Country Life

  2. We almost had one of those brand spanking new homes (or addition anyway) but then the H1N1 was misnamed and we've bled money for 3 years. Our house is 100 and you are right, there is always something that needs done. Single paned windows (and doors) need replaced,ugly carpet, and the cellar/laundry room -yuck. Our barns were built in '75, but they are getting tired too -daily use does that. You are lucky you can paint your walls. Our lath and plaster walls are so badly cracked we have to put up wallpaper. How I would love to tear down the walls and re-wire the house (so I can use 3 prong plugs) and put in new drywall.

    Oh well, some day :)


  3. I live on a Heritage Farm ( code speak for so old we have run out of toes and appendages to add up)with never ending " up -keep". The house,( hand chiseled by my hubby's Scottish stone mason ancestors) field stone from our creek is well over 130 years old and the main barn not far off.I feel your pain!
    I also feel your sense of being part of something larger, of putting your blood, sweat and personality into a small corner of the world. It is more than just an" investment" to be flipped when the market is right. It's your families home, childhood memories, a reprieve from the outside. when I have holidays I don't go to a sunny southern locale( oh but godess it's been tempting this year!) I go home to the farm with all it's snakes on my kitchen floor,fences that can't keep in stones and cucumber beetles eating my garden. I love it

  4. Love,love,love this blog.When I drive up your laneway I wishI could spend my life right there.The chickens come to meet me.the old tomcat greets me and when I approach your door I hear the sounds of sweet children laughing and chatting and coffee smells.Heaven!I just wish i had more strength and more time to help with more jobs.But everything takes time and we have a lifetime.It's all worth it when you hear those spring peepers and you know that thet are singing tn YOUR POND,love mommy

  5. Well, mom, when you put it that way...ha! You COULD come and live here. We'll renovate the duck barn into a little log cabin for you, like you've always dreamed of. A little porch and window boxes in the sun. We'd LOVE that!

  6. I totally understand what you are saying and there are those days when you just feel as though you are sinking in the quicksand of the "to do list". Our place is not old (built in the 1980's), we chose that on purpose because we are,ummm,getting older (40) and knew we did not have quite the same energy we did 10 years ago. There is always work to be sure and improvements to be made and oh how I love when we put our stamp on all that we do. Everytime I pull into the driveway I say to the kids," Oh what a cute, cute place. Look at all they have done here." Then the children always answer, "Let's go and visit them." a silly game we play but it reminds me and them how much we have done here. I LOVE seeing your place and look forward to seeing what stamps you put on your place. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Ha. This sounds like my life only our old house is pushing 40 and there are no children around.

    Sometimes I really miss our old old house that was built in the 1940s and solid as a rock.

    I do love our new old place that was built in the 1970s and still living fully in it's birth decade.

    There a long list of wants and goals and little projects and I am happiest when I am working on them. :-)

  8. Oh, thank you for putting the words to it so well! Remember it is the journey not the destination that is so rewarding. What was once a 5 year plan is now a lifetime plan for us - (150 year old log house with no ability to use chairs with wheels). I wouldn't change it for the world - and it sounds like you wouldn't either :)

  9. The stories it holds are worth any amount of "un-done-ness" you have. We hope someday to find our own never-will-be-done-but-we-love-it-anyway home :)


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