A Little Bit About Windridge
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