Five Years on the Farm: Taking Stock
In the early 1970s, my husband’s parents built the house we now live in, as a week-end place. A crew set the pilings, but everything else was done by my in-laws and their three teen-age kids.
Fortunately, I missed most of that work, because I didn’t get into the picture until ’76.
As the years passed, and all the siblings started families of their own, the house was “built-into” rather than “added onto.”
The house was essentially complete by 1990, and we all gathered here often for long weekends, but the focus was on having fun, not doing maintenance.
More years went by, and our young families got too busy to even visit the farm much. And after my father-in-law passed away in 1999, the house just sat there for ten years.
So when we moved up in 2009, we had a lot to do.
We have now been here for five years, and we have made the house more pleasant than I ever thought possible. (I really wanted to start over, and keep this house just as a huge art studio.) Painting the house was a good start, and I think the best improvement was replacing all 30+ windows with new energy-efficient ones.
Last month I did a little project that gave me a big lift. Our balcony color was too dark to match the house color, I thought. I finally painted it white, and I love how it looks now.
We have done a lot of work inside too, as in building a whole kitchen downstairs, but for some reason the painted balcony is what feels like the tipping point for me — you know how construction crews put a little tree on top of a high rise when they have all the girders in place? That’s how I feel now. We still have plenty to do, but the hardest part is over.
When we moved to the farm, I thought the best way I could share it would be to document and preserve the nature here. Since it had been virtually untouched for 50 years, I thought maybe a greater diversity of species had managed to hang on here than at other nearby sites. At first, I could only identify about 30 of the plants, and where those were on the continuum from endangered to invasive, I had no idea. The same with animals – I knew there were rabbits, deer, doves, turtles, etc., but I didn’t know specifics, like: there’s more than one kind of dragonfly, hummingbirds migrate, or, some snakes can swim really well.
So over these last five years, I have learned more about nature and best practices for management. I have joined some resource organizations, and my nature guidebook collection has increased exponentially! I have documented over 200 species of animals, plants, and fungus, and I know there are a lot more out there.
Here are some of the ones I saw yesterday afternoon:
With major work on the house behind us, I feel like I can take the time now to focus on the biodiversity inventory of this farm. I found a wonderful site for sharing observations, run by National Geographic, Project Noah. Here is my page on the platform, and I am also putting that link in my sidebar. You can upload nature pictures even if you don’t know what you have, and experts will help you identify the species. I have already used that feature several times. I also love getting artistic inspiration from their mission, National Geographic’s Great Nature Project.
I started uploading wildlife spottings a few weeks ago, and one of my pictures has been chosen for Spotting of the Day, for August 25. As Dre at Grackle & Sun would say, “Commence the Squeeee!” 🙂
I have posted pictures of our pond here before, but I found this one from 1981 and thought it would interesting to compare.
I have been so fortunate to be part of this farm for almost 40 years. Changes have happened all around us and will continue to happen, but we hope to preserve this spot of nature for the future.
Oh wow well improved a beauty then an even more now. Blessings Always, Mtetar
Thank you Mtetar, you are always so kind. It takes a special eye to see the beauty in old things! 🙂
The old things are the best they don’t make them like they used to anymore. Blessings Always, Mtetar
What a great place to live…while it’s been a lot of hard work, the results are beautiful. Wishing you many more happy years there!
Thank you! Everything takes longer than it did when I lived in the suburbs, but for me it is less stressful. 🙂
Documention of the history of the house over time will be so valuable to the next generations that live there.
And I love the white porch and railing. It looks so great.
My father-in-law kept all his planning drawings and documents for the farm, so I will be able to put together a pretty good history some day.
I will also be able to write a pretty good DIY manual on what NOT to do with deck paint! 🙂
How satisfying this must be, to grow with a place and see it flourish! It all looks wonderful and so cared for now–and the bugs and animals look content, too!
Yes, I love living in a house that has so much meaning to my husband, and so many memories of happy times here with my kids. The one thing I have had to get over is the “hammock mentality” of being in a place I associate with long weekends instead of everyday life! 🙂
I completely understand! Our home now was our summer “camp” for many years and it was quite a struggle to get to the point where I was willing to the work involved with living here full-time!
This is wonderful. It looks like a retreat. I’ve enjoyed your posts over the last year or so I’ve been following. Documenting the wildlife with pictures is valuable to all of us. Thanks.
It is very peaceful here, and I am so happy to be able to share it!
I so agree that painting the stairs/deck made a huge difference. And your kitchen, amazeballs. Best of all, you kept and enhanced a wonderful, peaceful family retreat.
“Amazeballs” – I love it!
We got those kitchen cabinets at Habitat for Humanity Restore, so it was great to help out a good organization like that.
I admit, I really really wanted to build a whole new house, but my husband said it would be much greener to restore this one, and he was right. He had the vision on this one! 🙂
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