This week marks five years since we’ve owned the farm.
Five years feels like a major milestone to me, even though we know this is our forever home. We’ve always looked at the farm as a long term commitment. And we knew the process of renovating the house and property would take awhile.
Sometimes, the “unfinished” parts of the house bug me a bit–I want a kitchen where the cabinets aren’t falling apart, a garage where I can park my car and walk right into the house, a bathroom that isn’t falling apart.
But I know those will come.
Mostly, I’m proud of what we’ve built here–what we’re building here–and how we’re doing it together. Over the past five years, we’ve accomplished a lot! We’ve put in a lot of work and money and time. With every project we’re making the farm our own and building the life that we want.
To mark five years, I’m looking back at some of the major projects we’ve completed:
I don’t know what the exact title for this section should be. I think it’s clear that we bought a fixer-upper house. Before we got started on any of the more cosmetic renovations, we had to focus on the basic systems that run the house.
- Our very first project that started five years ago this week was our geothermal system.
- We knew the well and water systems needed help. We ended up starting from scratch, drilling a new well and installing a completely new pump and treatment system.
- In the daze that was our first summer at the farm, we also shingled the roof–or Matt did mostly.
- We removed all of the equipment for the indoor pool and declared that feature officially out of commission.
- While not as necessary as water or heat or the roof, we added solar panels to help offset the hydro we consume.
- Our most recent infrastructure project was waterproofing the basement last summer.
The basement was where our renovations started. One of the things that drew us to this house was its usable basement–many old farmhouses that we looked at had dirt cellars. But what initially appeared to be a nicely finished space turned out to be pretty much a disaster. So we gutted it back to the concrete and started fresh. It was still going to be usable. It was just going to take a little while–and an afternoon spent hauling a woodstove up the stairs by a rope attached to the back of my Dad’s truck.
We redid everything. We adjusted the floorplan slightly and then reframed, rewired, reinsulated, redrywalled, repainted, refloored, refurnished. Our first Christmas at the farm, the best gift was finally having carpet and a couch in the basement.
As I’ve mentioned, we still have a few finishing details that are hanging around, but I am so proud of the basement. The spaces that we created–new bathroom, laundry room, office, storage, family room, games area, reading nook and ping pong room–are so perfect for our family. And I feel like the way we organized the different spaces is the way the basement was meant to be.
The main floor has not seen quite the same level of transformation as the basement. Long term, it will be the focus of a major renovation. But in the meantime, we’re doing smaller fixes to make it ours.
- We’ve redone the guest room and master bedroom, and have just one more–my office–in progress.
- In the kitchen we added an island, new lights and painted the walls.
- We removed a chair rail in the hallway, painted, updated lighting and hung art. We also painted the entry.
- I redid the mudroom.
- We painted the living room, built the wood-burning fireplace and added bookshelves. I have a plan to plank the ceiling in this room and dramatically improve the lighting someday.
- The dining room is untouched except for our furniture.
- The main bathroom is untouched except for a new toilet, exhaust fan and new/old light fixture.
- The indoor pool room remains untouched except for removing solar blanket (why for an indoor pool?) and some garbage.
I can’t think about the farm without thinking about the land. Our 129 acres with its forests, marshes, fields and trails is magical. We’re still figuring out how to take care of the property and how much we can handle.
We do not have a beautifully manicured farm–and honestly I’m not sure that’s the type of farm I want. However, there are enough weeds and brush and rocks and piles of junk that property clean up continues to be on our to-do list every year. We’re getting closer and closer to the maintenance point, rather than the clean-up point, I think.
- We installed our low-tech security system, the gate, at the bottom of the driveway.
- We planted trees along the driveway–talk about a long-term commitment. It’s a good thing this is our forever house, or else I would never see my vision of large branches arching over the driveway.
- We are ever so slowly reclaiming the farm from the rocks, lumber, brush, trash and what have you that are strewn around. I cannot begin to think of how many loads of rocks we’ve hauled to the pile behind the barn.
- The flower gardens we built around the front of the house are now fairly well-established. It’s been amazing to see them fill out every year.
- Last year I feel like we finally crossed the line between having a vegetable patch and having a vegetable garden. I’m so excited to have this for the rest of our lives here at the farm.
I think it’s clear that I love our life here. I love what we’re building together–from the home to the land to the gardens. It truly has become the best of times.