We purchased the farm in December of 2019 but had to wait until January 2022 to really take full possession. In the meantime, we constructed the garage, started what is sure to be a long process to clean the junk out of the yard and pastures, trimmed up the apple tress, and planted a garden. Before winter hit, we staked out the asparagus bed- the one Bob helped his grandfather plant almost 50 years ago. The asparagus bed had been left to run wild and go to seed; we hope to clean up the bed, get it defined again, and enjoy some heirloom spears. Rumor has it there's a similar rhubarb patch somewhere in the overgrowth. I do love a strawberry rhubarb pie...
Our plans for the farm house have evolved over time. Initially we had hoped that Bob and his brother could do much of the renovation work, calling in skilled labor for the few tasks they could not- or were not licensed- to do. However, as we got in and saw the condition of the house and realized the extent of the neglect and decay, it became apparent that we were not looking at a renovation, but a new construction. It took hearing from architects and contractors to get us to this point. In addition to Bob's emotional attachment to his grandfather's home, parts of this house date back to the 1790's. We had really hoped to be able to preserve as much of that history as possible. It is a complete and total shame that over two decades of a lack of maintenance has enabled the harsh New England winters to do their damage. Our goal at this point is to salvage as many of the beams, paneling, and flooring as possible as well as preserving the fireplace Bob's grandfather built. We hired an architect who designed a lovely 3 bed, 2.5 bath farmhouse with vaulted ceilings on the ground floor and a large sunroom overlooking our pasture. Bob has been a stickler for trying to retain as much of the ambiance of the old place while I have worked hard to include modern amenities.
The house was turned over to us in filthy condition- full of abandoned clothes and garbage strewn throughout. Several weekends were spent hauling out garbage. All told, we have spent over $3k and countless hours cleaning up other people's garbage left on the property. We hauled off over 430 tires (at the cost to us of $3/tire). We've rented and filled several dumpsters with all sorts of junk and garbage and we've made countless trips to the landfill. Pretty much every vacation for the past two years has been spent cleaning the property. I know I will be spending the next few years working in the garden with a handy bucket by my side as broken glass resurfaces after every rain and tilling. So. Much. Broken. Glass. Once the warmer weather is finally here we will need to figure out what to do with the abandoned cars and boats still on the property.
The roads get posted here in late winter so we had to get our contractor lined up before it would be impossible to get dumpsters and heavy equipment in for almost a month. With instructions regarding what to salvage from the old house, the contractor and his team got to work- and had a large portion of the house down in a matter of hours. An arborist came in and had to cut down several large tress surrounding the house- this bothered me almost as much as not being able to save much of the oldest parts of the house. But again, neglect has a price: the trees were split and hollow. It was basically a miracle they had not fallen over in a storm. After two years of family conflict and legal battles, it's bittersweet to see the old house coming down. Necessary for a fresh start but lots of regret for the things we couldn't save.