Thursday, December 25, 2014

Farmhouse Renovation, Progress Report

I have been spending my days at the farmhouse, helping Jim in whatever ways I can.
The farm is a 25 minute drive from our current house, by whichever of the several 
possible country roads we take.
It has become routine to have breakfast at 'home', deal with phone calls which need to be made, tend the cats, load up whatever we anticipate needing for the day.
We work until shortly after dark--which admittedly comes early.

Note the heavy-duty extension cord running overhead to the fridge and the big clamp-on light in the open cupboard. There is live power to the shop building a few yards behind the house--Jim has to run temporary power into the house while he installs the permanent wiring.
This is the only approved way to install electricity in an existing house in this area.
Fortunately, Jim has done similarly in new construction and still has miles of heavy cord, the movable lamps, and the skills to go ahead.

We purchased the large black fridge/freezer from an area dealer in second-hand 
furniture and appliances. 
Initially the Millers [the Amish couple who made the property swap with us] suggested that they wouldn't use our 4 year old appliances--the refrigerator, the electric range and the water heater--and that we could remove them from the yellow house.
The timeline for removal became very fuzzy.

It seems that when an Amish couple purchase an "Englisher" house, they are 'allowed' to use the existing modern appliances and the electric for a year--during this time they are meant to convert the home to comply with their non-electric lifestyle.
Thus we might have waited a year to retrieve the appliances. 
[And, I ask you, what woman after having 'modern' conveniences for a year, including a flush toilet and running hot water, would wish to return to a harder way of keeping house?]
It is a rhetorical question, of course, and one that I won't ask!

I have stocked the fridge and the pantry with the basic supplies for making simple meals, taken kettles, my cast iron pans, and utensils.
I heat water in an enameled dish pan on the stove or draw it from the reservoir on the back of the range to do the washing up.
This is a bit of a novelty at present--but my wish for a fairly frugal and simple way of keeping house
 does not run to the primitive!
One of Jim's first priorities was to install a flush toilet in the newly created bathroom space.

Since we are repurposing the cabinetry from our niece's kitchen we've had to configure the units to fit a different floor plan.
I was quite upset when Jim positioned the sink cabinet off-center to the windows!
The wretched man didn't mention that this wasn't the final arrangement, but allowed me to stew over this for a week!
Having gotten several other tasks settled he turned his attention to the kitchen; after considerable measuring and shoving things about we have devised a workable arrangement which utilizes the countertop with only one end piece needing to be cut off.
The sink is centered under one of the two windows--and with that I must be content. 

We have moved Howard's table and chairs into the alcove to the left of the kitchen range.
This makes a cozy place to eat our lunch.
I have brought some magazines and writing materials for the times when I have a moment to sit with a mug of tea.
At home in the evenings, I've been stitching curtains--which will have to be taken down when we are ready to paint.

December 17th was a mild and sunny day.
I found excuses to go outside and explore.
We are delighted to have some acreage that is wooded.
Common sense suggests that at this point in my life I don't 'take off' on my own in unfamiliar territory.
My sense of direction is nearly non-existent--and the hills are steeper than my photos indicate. 

A dizzying glimpse of blue sky.

Willow, the very timid cat, has adjusted well to life in the small barn.
She follows me about, seems less anxious--perhaps because the 'boy cats' are not in attendance.
Sadly, we have still seen nothing of Sally-Cat.
I have hoped she was being shy, hiding in the brush arbor made by a fallen tree just below the gate.
Her sister Sadie, and Willow, both spend time in the hollow under the pile of branches, often appearing from there when I go out.
I ponder why one cat of four would wander away in a new place.
Was she frightened away--killed by a predator?
The banty hen left behind by the Millers has also disappeared, leaving the rooster to fuss about alone.
It troubles me that any animal in my care should come to a bad end.
It is one of those times when I wish animals could talk--no doubt the other cats 
know what has happened. 
We do what we can for these strays that wandered into our space--spay/neuter, basic care in terms of food, shelter, flea preventative, wormer.
We can't assure them a long life.

 The unexpected acquisition of the farm property--when we had barely finished another renovation--and the decision to make our home there at the eastern end of the county, is exciting for us.
It is also a time which is stretching my physical stamina to do what needs to be accomplished to keep two houses.
While I enjoy reading about building and renovating projects, perhaps I will become tedious if I share updates of our progress.
I long for time to once again read and write creatively--surely we will eventually sort ourselves and establish and new and calmer 'normal!'


  1. Your updates are never tedious to me-I'm enjoying reading about how you're renovating the farm house!

    1. Jan; I enjoy renovation sagas in any form--so interesting to see how a house can be changed.

  2. No, no, no, your posts will NOT become tedious about your renovation work there at your new place. I love reading it all. Your work will inspire me to do my own.

    Love & hugs to you and your DH as you continue on making your new home liveable.


    1. Rainey; Gardening projects, crafting updates--you keep me interested--I think we 'do-ers' share a mindset!

  3. I can see you've made a lot of progress, but such a lot of work to come. I'm enjoying your journey, it's not tedious, but you've got me worrying about Sally.

    1. Janet; Sally has not reappeared--which makes me sad--she had gotten shy, but would she have run away? I suspect we will never know.

  4. I love reading your reports and updates. Such a wonderful adventure to share.

    1. Lillian; This is indeed an adventure--perhaps our last one of this sort!

  5. I love reading about it all, even if I suffer vivid "flashbacks" ha ha
    It all looks lovely, I am very envious of your woodland and look forward to seeing more in due course. Your kitchen is going to be fabulous, I can see from the photos, that the cabinets are of beautiful wood.

    1. Kath; You'd think the 'flashbacks' would have been enough to deter us from doing this! The cabinetry doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the Kraftmade which we used in most of our new construction, but it is sturdy and handsome--and finally re-arranged so the sink is not totally off-center!

  6. PA Amish disconnect the electric before they even move in. The Midwest Amish are so different from the ones here, even in clothing!
    So interesting to see what you are doing!

    1. Lynda; The Amish in KY appear to have slightly different 'rules' from one district to another--perhaps as decreed by a local 'bishop.' We've found that they have clever ways of working around some of the restrictions!