I’ve thought long and hard about the best way to take you through this journey. I’m afraid it could get a little long and monotonous if I go through this entire process day by day. At this stage of the project, things do really change day by day so I think, for now, I will take this one day at a time. This journey is a way for me to chronicle the process for me and my family, as well.
Many things have left my stomach in knots about this project. Right now all I can think about is leaving our property unattended for such a long period of time. We do have neighbors who live about a mile away from us, so they will keep an eye on the place. It’s easy to keep an eye on the place during the day. Night time is another story.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry a little bit about people coming here with the intent of taking advantage of the situation, which is why I haven’t told many people we are living away from home. By the time this blog post is published, we will have been home for a month or more. It’s just a little unsettling to leave your house sitting empty for so long. A week long vacation is one thing, a month long stay is quite another.
Fortunately, we have a killer watchdog.
Okay, maybe not. Sophie is a sweet dog who is in the twilight of her life which makes it even more difficult to leave her. We just aren’t able to take her to town with us. She’s only known life on the farm and isn’t well trained on town manners. She barks at everything that moves in the night and she’s never been on a leash. I don’t think the neighbors would appreciate that very much. She is the main reason we will make a trip to the house twice a day. I’m sure she’s confused by all that has happened with the house. Her favorite place to lay has always been the front porch and since it has been gone for a year, her life has been a little disrupted, too. She was my husband’s barn buddy and I often wonder if she misses him.
As you recall, my kids and I moved out last weekend and into my in-law’s home. So far, we’re making the adjustment quite well. I mean, really, it kind of feels like a vacation. My mother-in-law loves to take care of people and she loves that we’re there so she can do her thing. She insists on washing our clothes and we get clean sheets weekly. Yes, people–that’s weekly! I don’t think I’ve had clean sheets weekly since I lived at home with my mom! It’s just strange to be living in town. Make no mistake. We definitely haven’t moved to the big city. It’s definitely a town. The town we’re living in has a population of about 350 people. Even so, there are still cars driving by at all hours of the day and night, trains in the middle of the night, and more than one dog barking in the night.
Back at the house, you can see by the pictures below that we are beyond just “punching a hole” in the foundation. We are in full excavation mode.
This photo really shows how much they’ve progressed. See that weird rock ledge on the left side of the photo? Rock ledges were fairly common in houses with a stone and mortar foundation. What is different about ours is the depth of the ledge. Typically, they run about 2 feet deep but ours are 4 feet deep. That footprint really took a chunk out of the floor space in the basement. The ledges were only on the south half of the house and rounded to each corner to expand to have the distance of the house. I wish I could ask the original builder what their purpose was because no one who has looked at it has seemed to know. This is the side of the house that has had the foundation issues. Maybe that’s not a coincidence.
You can see the old beast of a furnace in the basement. It’s a Lennox Pulse furnace and is over 30 years old. We put a whole $160 into that thing in the 21 years we’ve lived here. Each time we would fire it up in the winter and then the central air in the summer, we’d say a short prayer that it would still work. She was a loud, old girl but she kept us warm and cool for 21 years. While it’s not very efficient, I can almost guarantee that my new furnace will not last 30 years.
And this must be the start of the rubble pile. So far, it’s a little bit of block and stone and a whole lot of wood and insulation. Aren’t the soybean fields a pretty gold color? Harvest seems a little late this year. It’s strange to me that here we are in the first week of October and the leaves haven’t even started to change. (By the way, that tree is dead. It hasn’t lost its leaves just because it’s fall.) At this point, we haven’t even had a killing frost. It’s been a gorgeous Indian summer. In fact, today it’s a beautiful 75 degrees! This is a view that those of us living in Iowa take for granted.
We sometimes complain about the lack of interest in our landscape since where we live is pretty much a flat, open prairie. But, I think wide open spaces have a certain beauty about them, too. On a nice, clear day, you can see for miles and miles. This is why I choose to live in the country. We have lots of room and lots of privacy out here. It’s a very peaceful place to live.
Salvaging A Farmhouse is a series of blog posts that chronicle my experience of renovating and reclaiming our 1900 farmhouse. This is a project that is over a decade in the making. We were working towards some pretty serious renovations on the house until my husband became sick with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and died 9 weeks after his diagnosis. My kids and I have been left with the task of completing what we started all those years ago. Every house and every family have a story and this is the story of ours.
To view the series from beginning to end please go to this page: Salvaging A Farmhouse.