|Brynwood Needleworks - Our Wisconsin farm|
Here she is. Our pretty little farm on the hill. This was our first view of her yesterday as we came up the road with our Flying Cloud in tow. For you to understand just how much I love this farm, I need to tell you a little story. I hope you don't mind.
When I was a child here in Wisconsin, my parents used to take my two younger siblings and me to visit our grandparents in Stevens Point. We would travel through a lot of farm country between Fond du Lac and Stevens Point, and I was always enthralled with the farm buildings...chicken coops, sheds, granaries, silos and big, ol' barns. Always. I would point them out every single trip, and even now, I find myself photographing barns as Handsome and I travel between Florida and Wisconsin (or anywhere else, for that matter).
My family always said, "Someday you're going to live in a barn!" I never denied it, but in my wildest dreams, I never thought I'd actually own one. It seemed more a pipe dream, than one that would ever become reality.
When Handsome and I last came to Wisconsin (not all that long ago), we decided to look for a home back here to be closer to our sons and their families. You know, I'm not much of a city girl and we really love our elbow room, so we looked in more country settings than in the city (although we did look at a few city homes out of curiosity).
Only a few days before we were set to return home, we looked at this last place. This farmhouse was built in 1918, which makes it ninety eight years old. We walked inside to find 7' doorways and 9' ceilings. Who built a home nearly one hundred years ago with tall doorways and ceilings - in a farmhouse? With my husband standing 6'6" tall, we felt as though this home had been built with us in mind!
We were in the home for two hours at our initial viewing. We quickly called our younger son, who is a licensed home inspector, and asked him to drop everything and meet us back at the house later that day because we wanted his expert eye advising his parents before they made an offer. Of course, he couldn't be our inspector-of-record because we're related, but he could tell us if there were "warts" we should know about. We were there another two hours, and then asked our realtor to help us draw up our offer.
It was presented to the owners' family and they accepted it as written. We were thrilled. There were a few things that needed to be hashed out (aren't there always?), but things went smoothly to our closing. Within an hour of arriving at the title company, all the papers were signed and we'd "bought the farm". (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)
We went back to the campground, hooked up the Airstream and headed to our new, old home. Our home.
|Brynwood Needleworks - Gifts from our new neighbors|
As luck would have it, our neighbor was mowing the lawn as we drove in (we're at the end of a dead end road and they live before us on the road and above us on the hill). We stopped, got out and introduced ourselves. He's married to the daughter of the people who lived in our home. Her dad lived in the house for eighty two years, was married and raised his family here.
How blessed we were to have them living next to us! We thought about all the history created in an almost one hundred year old house, and couldn't believe how fortunate we were to have a family member living right next door to ours.
Andy asked if we liked pears (yes, we do!) as he pointed out their pear tree and said, "Take all you want!" We thanked him, said we'd look forward to meeting his wife, and drove up to our place. Before we had the Airstream set up, Andy came up the drive with his arms loaded with pears for us.
|Brynwood Needleworks - A Painting of the farm from 1918|
We ran into town to get a few things we knew we'd be needing and came back about two hours later. We took a pizza from our old favorite "joint" into the camper (I'll explain all that tomorrow), and were unloading the back of the truck when a car pulled in. It was the Andy's wife, Shelly.
Shelly came with photographs and a gift for us. This is a photo she took of a painting that had been done of the original farmstead in 1918. There was a house here before this one, but it was removed in favor of this home.
When her parents went to an assisted living/nursing home facility nearby, one of their sons wanted the painting. Shelly took a picture of it and gave a copy to us.
|Brynwood Needleworks - Our farm as it looked in 1978 or 1979|
She also gave us this aerial view of the farm, taken in 1978 or 1979. There was a barn here originally, but shear winds destroyed it a number of years ago. You can see the barn, and moving down the hill; the woodshed (still standing), another building (gone, too), the machine shed (still standing), a granary and one other building (both gone).
Now, a pole barn stands close to the house, and the two other buildings are the only remnants of the original farm. How wonderful to be able to see what used to stand here.
|Brynwood Needleworks- The surviving machine shed|
This is the machine shed building. There's a fiberglass overhead door, which we'll eventually replace with wooden sliding doors. The family left the farm implements, a beam trolley (I'll share that another time), and the wagon wheels out in front of the shed. I really hoped they would!
|Brynwood Needleworks - Machine Shed Interior|
Inside, the light comes through the boards onto a dirt floor. We'll eventually level out the interior floor, add gravel and shore up a huge center beam. I might have to add a bench or chair in here just for hanging out. I can't explain the deep seated, emotional reaction I get just being in an old barn building.
I used to tell people that I might have been a pioneer woman in a previous life, but recently I have friends giggling when I now say, "Or perhaps I was a Holstein!". Whatever the reason, I love being in them with the light coming through the boards.
|Brynwood Needleworks - Surviving Wood Shed|
The other building that survived through all these years is the wood shed. The big barn would have been back and to the right of this building. Andy and Shelly's home is above and to the left. (You can see part of their pole barn across our field of tall grass.)
|Brynwood Needleworks - Handsome in the Wood Shed|
We now own a brand new wood burner in the house, and along with our purchase, the family included nearly seven cords of split firewood! Handsome is standing next to at least two of those seven cords. (There's also a fully loaded farm wagon in the pole barn, and more wood already stacked in the basement.) We also have a new boiler for the radiant heating system, so we needn't rely on the wood all winter.
|Brynwood Needleworks - Our Wonderful Attic!|
I'm not going to overload you with interior photos yet. There's plenty of time for that later. (I know. This post must be a record for the longest post I've ever written!) But, if you look at the farmhouse, you'll notice the wonderful gables on the attic level. There's a gable on each exposure of the house.
Well, here's what our attic space looks like now. I have plans for this room that begin with white paint. I think it would make a great bunk room for our grandkids when they come to visit, or a perfect space to sit and read a good book. A hammock might be just the thing for that corner straight ahead in this picture. What do you think? Of course, rails to keep people from falling down the stairs will be needed.
|Brynwood Needleworks - Hickory Hill Farm|
So, here's a photograph of the exterior of our new farmhouse. We left here last time knowing we had to live here. Within a week, we had chosen a name, too. From now on, our new place will be called
"Hickory Hill Farm"
We'll do our best to honor the history of the land, the home and the family who lived here before us. We're going to enjoy living here and carrying on the traditions of love and family as we make new memories together for as long as God grants us the time.
My husband shared a story about one of his long-time heroes last night. He's always been a huge fan of racing legend, Alex Zanardi who, having lost both legs (and almost dying) in a horrible car racing accident, rehabilitated to recently win a paralympic event.
I enjoyed his story immensely when Handsome told it to me, but what stuck in my mind was a quote that he repeated. After he won his event, Zanardi said, "...I feel very lucky. I feel as though my life is a never-ending privilege."
As I put my head onto my pillow last night, I think knew a measure of how he felt. Thank you, husband for fulfilling this girl's life-long dream.