“I think you need to see this house. I think it could be amazing.”
I won’t quickly forget the first time I drove down the dirt road that leads to our hidden cottage. Off of the road, past the neighbors, and down a lane with a car full of children. My favorite past time during this season of life was loading up all the children and driving around with them, looking at property or simply driving, for a bit of time before Daddy got home from work. They were long days. Hard days.
But one of these days, the world changed.
Our friend and realtor had given us the heads up on this wee little farm. It was only a few miles down the road from where we were currently farming (and renting) so driving to view it happened almost immediately.
I’d wanted a larger property. Huge amounts of land to graze and develop.
This home only had two and a quarter acres.
And yet still I found myself, screaming children in tow, driving down the smooth dirt road – honey latte in hand.
Rounding the bend in the road, from behind a perfectly straight row of cherry trees, it popped out to greet me. A little white cottage, long from it’s original glory, nestled amongst dated landscaping and not much else.
Even in that state, I knew. I knew I wanted to cultivate beauty here.
A few months later, the time of which I don’t really wish to recall because it was so horrendous in a multitude of ways, we found ourselves standing in the dining room of our cottage. Shag carpet. Wood paneling. Aww ya, baby. This was it.
It seems as if most (normal) people tends to gravitate towards suburbia. Towards homes that are done for them. Colors are neutral. Layouts are trendy. Bathrooms and closets are gigantic.
Not so at the cottage.
‘Round these parts, bedrooms are the the size of closets. There’s room for beds, a lamp or two, and not much else. Closets are roughly the size of postage stamps. And the single bathroom that exists in our 1909 home is roughly 5×8 feet.
All three bedrooms (and the bathroom) branch directly off the dining room, which branches directly off the kitchen. A few steps up from the kitchen lead you into the living room, an addition that was added on in the 1960’s.
In the original part of the house, the freshly refinished fir floors (discovered under 11 coats of paint and shag carpet) bare marks and discolorations from decades past. Light switches are strewn in a variety of odd-places. The floor in the kitchen is so slanted that Lord help the cook that drops an egg. Nothing is square. Everything is patched and plastered.
Almost every contractor we’ve had to the house disapproves of “old houses” in general and certainly don’t take too kindly to our stucco exterior and chicken-wired walls. It’s drafty in the winter and warm in the summer.
It’s designed for a family to live together – not in their separate spaces.
And yet this is our home. This is the home that we chose out of all the others to exist and raise our babies and our farm.
It’s all worn. It’s all got a story to tell – whether it’s ours or someone elses.
But shiny stuff doesn’t nearly do it for me like history does.
So my kitchen floor is already showing signs of wear from the herd of monsters we’ve got running through it all day. A family lives here.
The couch is propped up on a stack of vintage books because the leg popped off. But we read stories on it each night.
The dishes are mismatched, chipped, and oddly shaped. But we sit down to meals three times a day.
The bedrooms are small. But we can snuggle up in our beds together.
This is a family house. The heart is the dining room, the kitchen is the local hangout, and each nook and cranny shows wear and tear. The cottage life, especially one that involves as much animal waste and gardening soil as ours, certainly isn’t for everyone. I’m sure there are many who enjoy their pristine, organized, urban existence – and good for ’em! I totally want to come and visit and remember what it’s like to have order and cleanliness a normal part of my life.
But if I’m being totally honest, I love the process. I love the mess. This is my farm. And a family lives here.
For more of my ponderings on farm life:
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