Bonafide Farm

Oh, but I jest

September 30th, 2009 § 0

When I bought this property, the only thing wrong with it was the existing house. It was so far from my vision of my dream farmhouse–which is probably the reason I could afford to buy it. I presume many potential buyers took one look at the hot mess planted on an otherwise gorgeous piece of ground and ran away screaming. We’ll start with the interior, which makes it look fairly good, or at least livable.

But when we start examining the exterior, some major problems arise. The house was supposedly built in 1930. It was certainly not the highest quality construction to begin with. I described it to a potential builder as an old shack, and he gently corrected me by saying, “We call those country-built houses.” Country-built it certainly is, of rough-sawn lumber that may have even come from the woods on property. The previous owner hadn’t lived in the home for several years, and the neglect showed. The house originally sported a metal roof, but it was at one point replaced with asphalt shingles, the weight of which caused the 2×4 rafters to sway. Some people who looked at it said the roof had a “pagoda effect.” Door and window sills were rotted out, the aluminum siding that was artlessly tacked onto the original wood siding had gone powdery with age, and the floors dipped and swayed. Where they were low, a trip to the very shallow crawlspace revealed, the floor was held up with piles of field stone.

Taken together, these clues painted the picture of how a house was built, back in the day in mountainous Virginia, for not much money and with what was close at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that and I admire the spirit of the original home. I just didn’t want to live in it.

Breaking out of the box

September 29th, 2009 § 2

So last winter, I was sitting in my urban apartment ready for a change. I had just returned from a few months of living in a log cabin in Alaska, riding in bush planes and firing machine guns, and I’d finally realized that the life I wanted to live couldn’t be contained in the seven hundred square feet of a third-floor walkup apartment.

I was vermicomposting under the dining room table. My rakes and hoes and dirty garden boots permanently lived in the storage unit of my station wagon. I had trays of leaf cuttings rooting on radiators—in my bedroom.

It’s not like this was a great revelation, this figuring out that my interests in messy, often organic projects were overstepping their boundaries. I mean, I was the kid in freshman dorm with the chia pet. From there, my need for space to do things just increased, even as I downsized my living quarters and I tried to fit myself into the box of urban life in a major East-coast city.

That box held me for five years. Five exciting, exhausting years I wouldn’t give back for anything. But after leaving Alaska—where people I met indulged their passions and pastimes without restriction of space or mindset—I knew I was ready to challenge myself with something bigger. Something I’d always dreamed of doing.

And so, in May 2009, I bought Bonafide Farm. And isn’t this just the picture-perfect vintage Blue Ridge foothills farmhouse I’d always dreamed of?

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