5/20/2006

A Little Bit About Windridge

It's not that the farm isn't nice. In fact, several visitors have even expressed the desire to own a place exactly like this. (Well, maybe not several, but at least two.) It's just very remote and somewhat rustic. It is definitely not a place for everyone, but to me, of course, it's perfect.

It took us a long time to find it. We described our ideal piece of property to the real estate agents: acreage with at least some open space for a large garden, a livable house, and secluded. But after a few months of searching, we changed the description to simply "secluded, secluded, and secluded." They finally got the point and drove us down 40 miles of twisty, two-lane highway and a mile and a half or bumpy, one-lane gravel road to what we now call Windridge Farm.

This farm was in the same family for about 140 years. The first house (which no longer exists) was built 300 feet down in the valley next to a spring, but after the nearby overflowing stream proved that spot to be rather unstable, a log cabin was built on top of the ridge around 1870. That two-room structure still stands (barely), and was last used as a hog barn. We have plants to restore it, but until that day the logs are protected from the elements by corrugated sheets of tin that have been nailed to the outside walls.

Several yards from the log cabin is the barn, and it it my favorite building on the property. Without going into too much detail, I will say that it is two stories high, made entirely of solid oak, and absolutley wonderful. The massive logs that make up its skeleton could not have been moved by fewer than a dozen men. The outside has been painted white (no doubt many, many times), and the metal roof is red. It is one of those picturesque barns you see in country calendars and coffee table picture books. The sheep love it and sleep in or around it every night.

A few yards from the barn is the corn crib (also white with a red roof, as is the log cabin), a small, narrow building with high walls made from widely spaced oak boards that allow air to circulate through them and dry the stored corn. Right now it's filled with empty moving boxes.

The last structure in the barnyard is the old outhouse. Also made of oak and painted white with a red metal roof, it would probably be considered a deluxe model, as it is an outhouse "built for two." I don't know if this was a common practice or not. I have heard, though, that at one time there were 13 children living on the farm.

As you approach Windridge, the first thing you see in the distance is this little cluster of bright white and red buildings, and it appears to be several small houses. A closer look reveals not the bustling activity of four or five households, but an unexpected quietness and almost abandoned feeling. I find it very peaceful and not at all lonely. It is easy to feel the presence of the many generations of people and animals that have lived and worked on this patch of land for over a century.

Next to the outhouse is the sunken root cellar (a restoration work in progress), and adjacent to that is the house built after the log cabin. Its wooden boards have been covered with a type of fake tar paper shingling which is peeling off in various places. Poking out of the center of the peaked red metal roof is a small stovepipe that looks like a painted coffee can. It probably is. Outgrown some time ago, it was most recently used as a hen house. Wide roosting planks criss-cross the three small rooms at various levels, and plastic milk-crates-turned-nesting-boxes hover over the dirt floor. Cobwebs are everywhere.

And finally, a few steps away from the barnyard, is the third dwelling that has been constructed on this ridgetop. When I tell people that I live in an old farmhouse, they smile and get this romantic, dreamy-eyed look. I know the image they are picturing in their minds.

"That's not exactly it," I tell them.

The house has been haphazardly added on to over the years, usually with whatever materials were handy or cheap. This means that it includes such quaint details as several narrow enclosed porches with funny low-slanting roofs, a sink in one of the bedrooms, ugly pink paneling in the strangest places, and five doorways leading into the kitchen (including double sliding glass doors). Outside there is a set of cement stairs that leads right into a wall. It does, however, boast two full bathrooms, something practically unheard of in a house this size around here, and a constant amazement to local visitors.

Overall, the construction is fairly solid, the roof doesn't leak, and I haven't yet found a draft that can't be creatively plugged. After looking at houses for sale with plants growing up through the floors and no plumbing whatsoever, I'm definitely not complaining. Next door to the house is a rustic workshop that appears to be a cute little guesthouse if you squint your eyes and look at it at dusk. Maybe someday it will be one.

We obviously did not buy Windridge for the house. No, we bought it for its wonderful location (and that barn). The gravel driveway meanders along the top of the narrow ridge until it reaches the house at the back end of the property. Most of the ridgetop is open fields with a half dozen ponds scattered about, and the woods on either side slope steeply down to the valley below. Because we are at one of the highest places around, we have incredible views in all directions of the rolling hills. Hundreds of acres of state forest surround us on three sides.

Now you can start to see why the ugly pink paneling is no big deal.

Copyright 2006 Farmgirl Fare.com

13 Comments:

Anonymous kara said...

o.k....i'm hooked. and yes, i am one of those city(chicago) people who want to chuck it all for a little bit of land. thanks for posting these newsletters. :)

5/27/2006 12:34 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Susan,
At first I thought you were describing the farm house I used to have -- until you got to the pink walls. Mine were lavender: "Mother loved lavender," according to the seller.

5/27/2006 8:33 AM  
Blogger steven said...

My house in California was the farmhouse for the orchard that eventually was swallowed by a ranch-style development. The walls were covered in aluminum foil in several rooms and it wasn't until later that I figured out the previous occupants had been growing pot indoors.

5/27/2006 8:48 AM  
Blogger paintbrushpoet said...

I too am a past small farm owner, and I used to find the most amazing things. Like in the root cellar where some enterprising drinker hid his whiskey in the most beautiful old green bottles. I still have one of them and it is one of my favorites. It had some quite unusual brown growth in the bottom. My daughter, then 12 would not go in the root cellar because the roof was covered with snails. This gave us much ammunition to use on her--sorry kid.
Paint

5/27/2006 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Beverley, UK said...

Wow FG, I'm with the rest, dreamily wishing I were there. Any pics to share? Of the views or the barn? :)

5/27/2006 12:57 PM  
Blogger farmgirl said...

Hello to everyone who commented on previous Windridge posts!

I'm thrilled that so many of you are enjoying reading about my early country living adventures. Thanks so much for taking the time to write and let me know.

Hi Kara,
You're welcome. : )

Hi Kevin,
LOLOL, am I the only one who thinks the phrase "Mother loved lavender" is just plain scary?

P.S. You asked in another comment just exactly how I did end up living in Missouri? Good question.

To make a long story short, several unexpected personal 'events' were involved, including a major car wreck. Ultimately our entire plan had to be changed, and we also realized that we needed to move to a place where the land was less expensive. So Missouri it was! (Despite the fact that, as I mentioned, I'd never set foot in the state in my life.)

Hi Steven,
This is great. I wasn't even going to formally "announce" this little segment on Farmgirl Fare because it isn't all that exciting (I figured I'd just slide it in with the next one), but I'm so glad I did. Your comments are entertaining me to no end! Too funny about the aluminum foil.

Hi Paint,
Like I said, I'm loving these farmhouse horror stories! (I couldn't believe some of the creepy things I saw in places that were for sale. And I can't imagine who would buy them in that condition!) Anyway, thanks for the smiles. :

Hi Beverley,
I would love to share some photos from my days at Windridge. Unfortunately they were before my digital camera era, so I have nothing I can post online.

I did take maybe a handful of rolls of film, and if I ever figure out how to use the scanner feature on my cheapie little All-In-One printer thing, maybe I can scan a few. Don't hold your breath, though. I bought a new laser printer last August and only just hooked it up two weeks ago! (And, since I have no more desk space and it is sitting on the floor, guess who has taken to resting her head on the paper tray?)

Anyway, I'll see what I can do about the photos. In the meantime, you'll just have to use my words to create pictures in your mind. : )

5/27/2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

I need to move somewhere with cheaper land, my 9 acres is seeming awfully small at the moment.

re: pictures. Get in touch and I'll help.

5/27/2006 2:46 PM  
Anonymous pablo said...

I'm really grateful for these insights. Thank you.

5/27/2006 6:15 PM  
Blogger Grommie said...

It's funny, before I read your recent posts here, I was thinking about past times at my ex-'s grandparents' farm... no electricity, no running water, holes in the second story floors where trespassers had fallen through when no one was currently living there. I was reminiscent of how peaceful and lovely it was even in the sweltering heat of summer.

Then I came to my senses and realized I like civilization MUCH better. I know I couldn't be in your shoes for all the peace in the world FG. My hat's off to you.

5/27/2006 8:57 PM  
Blogger elise said...

I scanned some old pictures I had into my computer from the printer that came with it. I used my "scanner wizard" program that was listed in the accessories (Dell computer) and it asked me how I wanted to save it and I saved it as a picture and it came out amazingly good. My printer/scanner is nothing fancy so I was surprised.

5/28/2006 5:42 AM  
Anonymous angelika said...

Hi Susan, just a note to say thank you and to acknowledge that I am one of your truthful readers, also regarding the "how it all began" stories. I even printed the first entries to read them - like a novel - slowly and attentively in bed, before going to sleep. And I adore your writings ! If I am not mistaken you do not live on Windridge farm any more, are you ? And I am looking forward to the next entries... Thanks so much for sharing, please give big pets from Gino and myself to Bear - and, of course, to Cary. Hugs, angelika

5/28/2006 9:08 AM  
Blogger shepherdgirl said...

These are so fun, to get more of a glimpse at the house in my mind. I'm very selfish who I share my inside world too.
Pink? Ah...We had two layers of green linoleum under carpet that covered .....fir board! We were estatic. It was worth the sore back and knees to have it. Never before used fir, they just automatically covered it up back then, just liket he maple floors in the Midwest I remember...

5/31/2006 12:56 PM  
Anonymous bartman said...

bartman

Hummm, where can I find a farm? I missed out on the last one for sale in my area--$2500 for 100 acres--of course that was 1958! Now the same thing in NH will set you back about $500,000 or more.

I love your writings and really enjoy hearing about your adventures. Animals are fun. We are down to three cats and two dogs. I hope you don't mind if I use the photo of the farm in the vally as background on my computer.

I look forward to reading more. The photos are great, but some of the didn't download.

6/05/2006 3:41 PM  

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