Monday, July 30, 2018

Land at the Top of the Ridge

On Wednesday, 25th July, we signed the papers which finalized our purchase of a 20 acre property less than five miles away from our current farm home. 
[These first several photos were taken on that date, although sometimes my camera doesn't change its date setting through several photos.]

The highway twists and climbs up the ridge for nearly two miles before starting to widen into cropland and small meadows. We looked at this property in early May when it came on the market, made an offer which, luckily as it turns out, was accepted but with terms that we felt were restrictive, so we continued to search.

We have been happy in our modernized Amish farmhouse.  We have enjoyed having friends as renters in the lower farm.  Retirement and a change of location looms for them within the year--and we have had serious misgivings regarding renting the house and its out-buildings to strangers.
There is also the consideration that we don't need a large house with five bedrooms!

Thus we decided to list our Amish farm with the local realtor whose integrity and professionalism has proven valuable in the past.
We told each other that a unique property such as ours [two large houses with pastures and outbuildings] would likely be slow to attract a buyer.
Before the property had been listed on the market for two weeks, arrangements were being made for a showing. We accepted an offer several weeks later, signed a contract--and I, at least, began to panic that if the sale went through we would be scrambling for a suitable new home for our cats, our belongings, Jim's tractor 'collection.' 

I spent late night hours trolling area offerings on line.  We made note of a few, drove out to have a preliminary look--nothing appealed.  Too far away from our pleasant neighborhood; houses perched too near the highway;  a house with possibilities for renovation, but for sale through bank foreclosure which presented a nightmare of red tape and dead lines.
The listing of the nearby acreage we had liked was updated with a price reduction.
We drove up the ridge to look it over again.

There had been a house on the property--destroyed about a year ago by fire. The house was built in an unlikely spot--at the end of the acreage, shaded on three sides by woods, and perched above a steep ravine.  The cracked foundation remains, filled with a sad clutter of fire-twisted metal roofing, charred beams, a rusted stove, all fit only to be bulldozed and buried.

We made a second  offer much lower than the new asking price--and considerably less than we offered two months earlier.  The owners countered, Jim told the realtor that we didn't intend to respond immediately. 
By the time we reached home that afternoon, our realtor had left a message that the owners had capitulated.

A dog house surrounded by weeds survived the fire which claimed the dwelling.

There is clean up under way.  Livestock fences are being taken down.

Jim has decided the big metal barn is more of an asset than he first thought.  It can be insulated, wired for electricity and repurposed as garage and workshop.

Our house will be sited on the gentle slope to the left [west] of the barn.

Jim's first effort was to haul machinery up the ridge, take down some of the fence and bushhog weeds and grass.

Today we removed the partitions and pens pictured here in the main part of the barn.

Box stalls and pens line up on either side of the center aisle.

This building is located midway between the barn and the former house site.
It is filled with the belongings of the former owners--hopefully they won't take forever to clear out their bits and pieces.

I'm needing identification for this small tree near the burned house site.
I'm tentatively thinking it may be a hybrid of the magnolia family.

I loaded these photos on Thursday, but have spent hours at the property with Jim, trying to be useful.
I think my role at this point may be what Grampa Mac would have termed 'the heavy looking on!'

Today I have coiled up yards of electric fencing wire as Jim tore up the stakes.  I have held a bucket ready to catch screws and nails removed from partitions in the barn.  I've trudged the length of the meadow and along the board fence several times, moved our folding chairs into the shade so that we can take a short break.

Coming home [finally] at 6:30, I cleaned up enough to do some baking--4 loaves of whole wheat bread and a batch of molasses spice cookies.
A load of grubby sweaty clothes and damp towels has been laundered and dried.
Jim showered while I tidied the kitchen [minimally] then came downstairs to tell me that I must view the red planet sharing the south-eastern sky with the rising moon.

Three loaves of fresh bread bagged and in the freezer, one loaf set aside for breakfast.
Molasses cookies sampled, some in the cookie jar, some tucked in the freezer.
 I've showered --again--taken an Advil for my aching bones.
Folding the laundry can wait til morning.
I'm taking another Advil--and heading for my bed!


  1. I am SO glad it has gone through smoothly for you - I have had my fingers crossed this end!

    It looks a lovely plot and great to hear you are getting to grips with tidying it up already. Do you have to apply for planning permission to build your new house in another spot or can you just get on with it?

    It's the best choice for your future as you can have the house exactly to your needs - complete with large sewing room!!

    1. Jennie; Thank you for your encouragement along the way. Deep breath now and brace the shoulders for what comes next!
      Building regulations are still very lenient in rural Kentucky, especially when one has this much acreage. Septic and electric installation need preliminary approval which is almost a rubber stamp process.
      The design of the house won't be quirky, but definitely thought out for ease of maintenance and safety in our later years.

  2. I know for me the time is whizzing by but it seems like only yesterday that you moved into your present home. How long ago was it?

    1. Briony; I think this is our 5th summer in the Amish farmhouse--too much 'whizzing' and I have to stop and count backwards!

  3. Dear Sharon ~ Your life is an adventure. Are you going to build a new house? Where will you live in the meantime?

    You are a hard worker right along side of your dear husband. I miss doing that with my dear husband. Now I have to talk myself into getting up and doing things. :-)

    After all of that work you baked goodies, did some laundry and enjoyed the evening sky events.

    Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy and am inspired by your posts.

    Love, hugs & prayers ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; I've always liked the description of the good helpmate in Proverbs; however, if I was to 'rise before it is light' my baking likely wouldn't go well. I can usually summon a 'second wind' and accomplish something in the evening. Today was strenuous enough that I was glad of my industrious baking the night before!

  4. Such exciting news! I'll post more thoroughly a bit later when I have a little time. Meanwhile I wanted to say that I 'think' that your magnolia is Jane of the Little Girl Series. I have one planted just in front of our screened porch. This is not a large variety, which is perfect for us. She blooms in the spring and then off and on with a bloom here and there during the summer. In the autumn there is yet another blooming period, just not as spectacular as the spring one.

    1. Mundi; I so appreciate your help in plant identification. This tree was damaged on one side by the fire--pruning the dead branches will be a job for the future. It doesn't have the waxy leaves of the true southern magnolia, but there are similarities. If you can grow one in your location, it must be quite winter-hardy.

  5. I am now back inside from picking Japanese Beetles and pulling a few weeds. As you well know, these jobs are best done before the sun is high in the sky. Your new project sounds just fabulous! It echoes our last project in many ways although hundreds of miles apart. Our last farm was what we always referred to as 'a hundred acre, twenty cow farm' or at least that was what it was back in it's earlier iteration. By the time we arrived there the original farmhouse had burned and a much newer and enormous house had replaced it, high atop one of the former hay fields. We were in a pinch to find a place to live that had room for a barn and pasture for our horses. As it turns out, although it was the most perfect piece of heaven and we loved it, it was just too much farm for us. The house was too big for us and the mowing was endless. We had thought to keep a few acres for ourselves, build a smaller house and sell the remainder. After discussing our plans with a realtor friend he called in less than a week to say that he had a possible buyer for the entire farm. Long story short, they bought the farm and gave us a year there to find some land and build a new place. Finding the land turned out to be the least of our troubles; it was getting the house designed that had us in knots. In our case the architect would not be rushed. By the time we realized that we were making haste slowly it was too late to change course. When finally presented with a set of plans we immediately said yes, let's just do it! In retrospect, we should have asked him to make the footprint just a bit larger. We love our house and have made it work for us but we do often say that it is '2' too short and 2' not wide enough'. Enjoy you new adventure and please take all of us right along with you! I for one, love a new project!!

    1. Mundi; Japanese beetles are the bane of gardening in high-summer. Strangely, I don't recall them from my Vermont years--and I had many roses, so you'd think if they were around then I'd have noticed.
      Jim designs his own house plans--with a builder's knowledge of construction requirements. His sketches are always neat, done to scale on graph paper. I look over his shoulder and argue about the floor plan, scratch out my 'improvements' on a sheet of printer paper, shove them under his nose.
      He reminds me that he has final say on construction details and I have the last word on coordinating the interior, choosing fixtures, colors, etc.
      Interestingly, after bouncing ideas about for a week, he added about 2 ft in both directions. [I was grumbling about closets!] We're hoping we can arrange with our buyers to store some of our furniture in one room of our present house until it can safely make the move to the new building.

  6. Sounds like exciting times coming up-building a new home. I'm looking forward to watching your progress!

    1. Jan; I know from past experience that the building of a new home is both exciting and exhausting. We built the last one nearly 10 years ago [in Wyoming] and I think we are both aware that we need to take this project at a less demanding pace. I hope I can keep up with a record in photos and words.

  7. Congratulations on the purchase of "land at the top of the ridge." I am certainly looking forward to watching this story unfold.

    1. Chip; Each day that we work at the new home site, we pause several times to simply look around--surveying our kingdom, so to speak. There will be the long hard days, likely a few frustrating days when things aren't going quite right, but the smell of new lumber is intoxicating and looking back at the end of each week is satisfying.

  8. I'm so happy for you that everything fell into place for your new land. How exciting to design a new home. Don't work too hard in this summer heat! Pat

    1. Pat; Things did providentially smooth out after some frustrating weeks re the land purchase. Frequent rest breaks will be key to working safely in this heat--and not a bad idea for the whole project.

  9. I was really liking where you live now, but understand the worry of having so much to take care of. I'm not without those concerns myself. It IS fun though, planning a new house and thinking about a new adventure. And I'm glad you didn't decide to leave the area. Seems like a nice place to put down some roots. All the best fortune! Phil/Minnesota

    1. Phil; We also like our present home and it was a big task to convert the two Amish farmhouses for 'English' living.
      We decided it was wise to downsize while we have the capacity to make good choices and create an easier homeplace. Staying in this area was a high priority as we looked at properties for sale.
      Jim is by nature and upbringing prone to new projects and adventures--I've learned to be along for the ride!