Thursday, April 3, 2014

Poor Farm Update...Spring Walkabout

So the status is this. Still working closely with a young couple on the sale of our farm. If all goes well we will leave here in November and they will move in. In the meantime we are increasing livestock numbers here to meet our present needs as well as future projections for possible new owners, who plan to sell the same products we are plus produce and poultry.

To make life even more fun we are now getting busy on Farm number 2 which we purchased last fall. The seven acres have proven a great place for target practice this winter but now with spring thaw here it is time for clean up.

The previous owners of The Poor Farm had lived there for many years but for reasons unknown to us, upkeep was obviously not a priority. Maybe they just got too old, too sick or just no longer cared when face with the foreclosure on their farm. I can't help but feel empathy for them as we've learned this farm had been in existence sine the mid 1800's. Recently Keith and I explored the property as weather warmed in order to see the lay of the land...

 At the north west side there is a naturally made pond. Only a couple of feet deep we plan to dig it deeper and wider. Will be a great place for natural water runoff and home for our ducks.

Moving south we run into what was probably an old pig shed. Small but adequate in its time.


I love the faded red wood on this shed and we will probably reuse for the indie walls of our yet-to-be-built barn .Unless we can find a good barn close by that the owners want to sell or giveaway which we will move to The Poor Farm.

The inside of the pig shed is in bad shape but it obvious by the beams that some one years ago put some time, effort and skill in its creation.

 We also needed to see how water flowed and drained, in which directions, at what speed etc. The day we went was perfect, we were able to see so much that we were not able to observe when we bought the property due to the extremely high grass/weeds.

And we needed to full asses the previous owners leftover "inventory." Junk to some, recyclable metal to others.

On the far south west end the land was higher and there were rows of snow between three rows of higher land. Keith thinks maybe a land fill area but I'm wondering if maybe there was at some time a garden of long raised beds here? If only the land could speak for itself.

The south side had more inventory piles and even included an old chimney. From where? The house? A smoke shed? This pile is a very long way from the house and yet contains a lovely guest bed and old frig.

At the farthest south west point we can clearly see the drainage pattern of the conventional field behind us. We were very happy to see that our property is built up (to the right) and the flow of water, topsoil and more than likely non-organic chemicals will run alongside our borders.

Looking north from the south end of our land you can see what remains of what once was a mighty barn. Keith is anxious to see what all is underneath. Me, I'm a little worried that Mr. 1930's farmer's skeleton is there waiting for discovery.

Keith and I don't always see the same "potential" in metal debris but I am absolutely in love with this old pig waterer. I see a great planter or even a shelf display in the house (which is not yet built but I can SEE it)  What would you use this for?

Although the property may seem a real shambles and represent nothing buy years of work, there exists an understated beauty.

 But then again I have always been a sucker for milk weed plants with their angel wing composition.
As we move east along the south side it is easy to see the hill the current house sits upon. If our future architect agrees we are planning to build our earth covered home within that hill and to the west (left) of the old place.

There is less water pooling (and junk) on this side of the property which may indicate a good place for initial animal grazing.  But as we move to the north east side we run into yet another dump site.
But we really don't mind. It was like an archaeological dig except that we having starting digging yet. We will do that this Sunday as we've roped in some family members to help. It was interesting to see how some of the junk, that towards the way back of the property was really very old, rusted, decaying while the piles closer and closer to the house (which must be torn down as completely unlivable)  were in better shape.
Meaning you could read the labels on some of the cans still!  Here again is the current house which at first glance might seem livable.

But don't be fooled. The roof is terrible and there is massive water damage on the inside. Interior roofs have given way, floors are decaying and the foundation collapsing. yet we still plan to pull any thing of use like windows and out into a new barn. We will strip the house of every usable piece we can and then who knows? A big bonfire? We'll see.
Below is the current well house. Soon the well will be checked and we'll know if its' good enough to use or if we'll be face with digging a new one.

I have great plans for use of this amazing weathered wood as well. Indoor shelving maybe.

For some reason this above pile of snow fencing really impacts me the most. Who rolled it all up after winter storms were over? Did they have any idea they would never set them out again?

The property is loaded with beautiful trees like this white birch plus many hardwoods and various willow trees. I love willow trees.  The very north side though has this thick line of bushes. Which at first glance seems like a nice privacy fence from the road which runs on the other side.

 However...after all the leaves dropped from the bushes over winter we could now see the buried treasure it offered us.

 Lions and Tires and Bears...oh my.

Some other highlights. Raised concrete supports from an old corn crib,

Suitable for more raised beds?
After figuring out the water flow I found myself becoming fascinated with the texture of the debris, the history within each piece. This old tree trunk with the eye of a whale.

The tiny bits  of  beautiful moss able to grow on fallen wood

The sculpture of rust barbwire wrapped around a fence post

A burned out stump with its Zebra like striations.

An old motorcycle frame. Wondering if I need to place a call to American Pickers? You know how Mike Wolfe loves his motorcycle frames!

So ends this spring 2014 tour of The Poor Farm. Hope you enjoyed.


  1. I am so happy that someone else has to clean up their property. I just bought 10 acres and everywhere I look there is metal and junk and . . . and . . . . . I am 71 yoa and think it will take me the rest of my life to just get rid of the junk.

  2. With every photo, there are more and more questions of who, what did they have in mind, what happened here, etc.
    The old pig trough should become a planter--can almost see it.
    You have many many adventures ahead of you.

    What an awesome family you have!

  3. Scrap metal brings a good price. Incentive to move it along.

  4. I'm so glad you found a place you like! I love the idea of the house being IN the hill :) Three and a half years ago we were looking for land. One place had TWO ponds (one for me, one for the livestock) most of the shell of a barn, with a hydrant and concrete floor, and a mostly liveable single-wide trailer with small fenced yard around it. And NO view. It basically sat in the crater on top of a hill, with trees all around it, so all we could see was our place. Blah. And a lot of junk to clean up, the scariest part being glass and metal. And we have young children, still, so it wasn't an attractive thought. We put an offer on it anyway, but offered less than the asking price. The owner said he'd have to remove the barn for that price. So - no go. Instead we have a place with a view, one pond and NO garbage to clean up - except dead tree branches. We get to mess it all up all by ourselves :) When we move there. 2016 is the goal :)

  5. When in my previous short-lived life of real estate sales, I always encouraged people to go to their potential homes or homesites right after a big rain to see how the water flowed or pooled. It's good that you can see how everything will flow/pool and then plan accordingly. All those trash heaps! We only have three or four of them and gradually picked through them until everything was recycled, burned or taken to the landfill; it was a huge job, but at the same time, kind'a like treasure hunting.....if you liked hunting for old diapers and burned books and rusted, rolled up barbed wire.

    The snow fence brought back memories from living in Illinois; miles upon miles of it. People would look at you weird here if you said the words "snow" and "fence" together.

    I think the pig feeder thingy would make a good shelf attached to the wall for showing off other treasure finds from around The Poor Farm.

  6. What an adventure you are embarking on! It's going to be very exciting to follow along. You'll be like a couple of hobbits, living in the hillside. :)

    I love your pig feeder shelf idea; too bad to rust it out by using it as a planter.

    Six years ago, before we bought this farm, we bought an abandoned farm in AL to turn into a guest house for pastors and missionaries. There had been no garbage collection for the past 50 years, so it all went in a heap by the creek. It took us two dumpsters and three weekends with a Bobcat to get it all cleaned up. I saved many of the "treasures" I found and used them to decorate the house. One of my favorite was the old wooden kids' potty chair seat I turned into a picture frame for the bathroom. :D We had to completely rebuild the house, even removing about half the studs, but it's a lovely place today. When he saw what we were doing to the house (which was so nasty I refused to spend a night there) the farmer we bought it from was sorry he'd sold it. We're putting it up for sale now and moving the guest house closer to home (10 min.) instead of an hour away, and he wants to buy it back. I was able to research some of the family history and got some more stories from one of the "boys" who grew up there, who's in his 60's now. A great story makes a wonderful place even more special! I plan to make a book of the stories and our journey with the place as a gift for my husband because he's so sad to sell it, but two farms is just too much at our age.

  7. Oh how I would loved to have joined you on your visit; I just adore other people's junk piles. What a great project; and a pond too.

  8. Felt like I was exploring with you - fabulous photos and a lot of work to do! Where are you going to live if the house isn't habitable - are you going to restore it or build a new one?

  9. The farm existed in 1800’s? It certainly has been there for a long time. It may be outdated as the previous owner didn’t have time to update the farm's valuable assets, but at least you were able to fix it the way you two wanted it. I just hope everything will work out so you can move out from your old farm and focused on your farm number 2.

    Charlena @ Weidner Law