Lagging Spring

Spring in Town

The country ever has a lagging Spring,
Waiting for May to call its violets forth,
And June its roses–showers and sunshine bring,
Slowly, the deepening verdure o’er the earth;
To put their foliage out, the woods are slack,
And one by one the singing-birds come back…

William Cullen Bryant

 

This is yesterday’s deepening verdure. The winter rye is greening in front of the barn, tree buds are beginning to push forward and it is not only Juncos to the feeder.

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BUT, Mother Nature has halted the verdant splendor and given us a more muted palate. Somehow, more quiet and composed.

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Spring is most surely lagging in this northern state.

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Farmhouse Revised

To make sure the full impact is felt, make sure you look at yesterday’s post about buying  a farm. In that post you will find the “Before” pictures. We began this project nine months ago, and while much of the house project is “done” there is quite  a bit of fine-tuning left to work on. Of course, the acreage and outbuildings will keep us very busy for years to come!

We’ve lived in the city for many years with turn-of-the-century oak woodwork, and while beautiful, it is very dark. I’ve been craving light for years, so am thrilled to have been able to highlight the incredible light of the farm. We added windows to both enhance the view as well as to open the house even more to light.

For the interior I chose a monochromatic white color scheme to keep it fresh and clean feeling. Walls, ceilings, floors and trim are all the same white. For dimension, I was strongly influenced by the concept of “farmhouse coastal.” I added beachy splashes with a sea-foam marble for the wood stove heat wall, painted the office ceiling, crown molding and stairs a turquoise blue and have lots of sand colors resonating throughout the fabrics and fixtures.

I also wanted to add a bit of “farmhouse” especially as the house has two large barn wood beams to remind us of the old-timers who hand-sawed the huge timbers that once covered this land. My darling husband was commissioned to create beds, fridge panels, a stove hood and farm table to help the house celebrate its roots! Our laundry, bathroom and mudroom will eventually look like a tack room complete with a sliding barn door. That will be our next project. To complete, in fact, will be a screen porch, a covered porch that will become a solarium and the renovation of the bathrooms.

In terms of interior design, the space is minimally filled. I have yet to decide about window treatments, additional furniture and other objects of interest. I figure I have lots of time to find interesting pieces to fill the space. I’d rather have things I love and that are “perfect” than just fill the space for the sake of it.

Click on the first picture to see the gallery in a larger format. It may take a moment to load.

 

 

Vegetarian Perspective and the New Farm

We bought a farm!

This is actually old news, but I’m finally getting around to share this with the world. First let me introduce you to the country getaway-renovation project-to keep me busy-house! 15 acres and a few outbuildings is definitely a foodie fantasy, of course the incredible views were highly motivating, but the light and potential of the farmhouse are ultimately what sold me. To the west, huge windows look across a ravine to the neighboring farms on the ridge, to the east we have five-mile views of the Lake Pepin and Rush River Valleys and the whole place is surrounded by the pastoral rolling hills of this “Driftless” area of Western Wisconsin. Our place sits on a hill with ample windows to the west and south allowing for flooding sunlight throughout the day. In the city, rays from the sun are blocked by our neighbor’s two and a half story homes and close proximity.

House Day of Closing

The house

View of Neighbor

Our neighbor to the south

Well House and Ravine

The overgrown hill looking out to the ravine

Our Road and Views

View of Lake Pepin and Rush River valleys

While the stinkiest house we have ever renovated, I could immediately see the potential. The house was originally built by a homesteading family in the late 1880s or early 1890s. It stayed in that family until 1986 when it was sold to a young couple. They set to renovate the place with new windows, an open floor plan and new paint, carpet and other basics. In 2003-4, after divorcing, the woman decided to make some big changes to the house by building an addition that would accommodate two new bathrooms, a mudroom and a laundry room. Unfortunately, she fell on hard times, many projects were left unfinished and eventually she lost the home to foreclosure. We were the purchasers.

While we feel extremely grateful for what we have acquired, it is hard to think about the previous owner and her dreams for this place. One day last summer she tentatively stopped in to introduce herself. She was very emotional, but shared her story with us which ultimately gave us a deeper appreciation for the land and the home. We learned that she loved animals and had a couple of horses. She even created a riding arena behind the garage with highbush cranberry. The bushes are 14-16 feet tall now and form a perfect rectangular arena. Poplar seedlings had overpopulated the space, but once Jeff cleared them out, the arena became obvious. If she hadn’t told us about that space and it’s purpose, we may never have discovered it. After the horses died, the land went fallow, burr, thistle and other perennial weeds took over, so we’ve had our hands full with clearing, and I anticipate many years of maintenance and management.

South View

South side with perennial bed

House Day of Closing

Southwest view

North Exterior

North side addition

West Exterior

West side view

These pictures were taken the end of June on the day we closed. I was thrilled to find lots of perennial flowers, flowering bushes and fruit trees. It was obvious that somebody loved gardening as much as I do. However, the gardens and plants were nearly impossible to see for the invasive grasses that have taken over the beds. The farm seemed so overgrown that we thought it had been abandoned for many years. We were surprised to find that the previous owner had only moved in February, and now understand how pernacious these country weeds truly are!

Peonies Buried in the Crab Grass

Peonies in the grass

Hosta and Roses

Hosta and Roses

Pink Peonies

White Peonies

White Peonies

Light Pink and Yellow Peonies

Weigela and Highbush Cranberry Mess

Weigela and highbush cranberry

 

Mock Orange

Mock orange

Yew, Hosta, Spirea and Smokebush

Yew, hosta, spirea, smokebush

Maple Baby

Sour Cherry

Iris and Crabgrass

Iris

Everyone asks if we’ll have animals or grow crops, but what we’re going to do with it is yet to be seen. We have lots of ideas and tons of ambition so anything seems possible. What we do know is that we have 15 acres to renovate, rebuild and restore. We closed last June with the intention of renovating the house as a country getaway. While others would have dug into the land right away, it was more important to me to first create a peaceful and relaxing space. Here are the before pictures:

Kitchen to Livingroom - Day of Closing

Looking into the living room from the kitchen

Kitchen Cabinet

The old kitchen cabinet – I save this for later!

Window to Porch from Kitchen

Old window looking out to porch

Window to Addition - now removed

Blocked off window never removed after north side addition added

Heat Vents and Beadboard Ceiling

Main floor has beadboard ceilings and heat vents

Wood Stove Pad and Wall

Wood stove pad and heat-tiled wall

Large Timber Beam

Large timber beam between kitchen and living room

Office to Livingroom View

Main floor room to become office

Office - Day of Closing

Another view of the office where the desk will go

Beam and Looking to Kitchen

View of beam looking into kitchen

Master Bath Doorway

Master bath doorway

 

Master Bedroom

Master bedroom

A Good Reminder When All Runs Off Electricity Here

A good reminder!

Lofted Space to be Bedroom

Lofted space to become bedroom

Loft and Stairs

Loft and stairs

Stairs and Exit Sign

Stairs and exit sign

Six-Inch Pine in Master

Six-inch pine original to master bedroom

Master Bath and Bedroom

Master bath and bedroom

Master Closet and View to Loft

Master has double closets!

Office and Wallpaper

Main floor plaster never finished – this is future office with wallpaper

Original Fir Floors

Main floor has fir floors

New Windows and Victorian Trim

New windows and Victorian trim

Bottom of Stairs & Fir Under Living room Carpet

Bottom stairs show fir under living room carpet

Two Steffes Units Heat in Winter

Laundry room and mud room addition heated with Steffes electric units

Laundry Room, Bathroom and Closet Addition

Mudroom closet in addition

Laundry Room

Laundry hook-up

Main Floor Bath

Main floor bath

Vent for Electric Basement Furnace

Vent for electric basement furnace

Kitchen Sink and Bay Window

Double sink – maybe move to summer barn kitchen?

Porch Door to Kitchen

Porch door to kitchen

Workbench and Kitchen Window

Workbench, window and door to kitchen

Porch Door to Yard

Porch door to yard

In addition to a lovely house, we have a few choice outbuildings that one day will gleam and shine. Right now they are rather battered and bruised.

Garage

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ImageI’m excited to post the “after” pictures of all our projects. We’ve been here for just over 9 months and have accomplished quite a bit. In addition to renovating much of the house, we have started seedlings for a summer garden, have plans to trench the electric lines, we will finish off the deck and screen porch we started last summer, start a colony of bees, and begin plans for a large-scale permaculture farm. This summer my challenge will be to find a way to live harmoniously with the weeds!