New Ventures

My partner and I have been searching for property off and on for the past few years.  We have known that we wanted to expand our farm and take another step towards a different lifestyle.  With a limited budget and a few specific criteria, it took some time for us to find the perfect place.  That finally happened this past summer, when a 93 acre former cow farm came on the market up the coast from our current home.

New home
New home

The farm at Hostile Valley Road had been in the same Maine family for almost two hundred years, since the town was first settled in the early 1800s.  Since the 1990s the house, land, and barn have been virtually abandoned as the remaining members of the family grew older.  The farm has a small cape on one side of a rarely used dirt road and a large, sound barn on the other.  While the property continues up the hill behind the house into woods, it looks out over several acres of fields perfect for crops or livestock.

The barn - a huge attraction for the property.
The barn – a huge attraction for the property.

When we first started work at the place, it was very rough around the edges.  I can’t say that it has been all trimmed up in the past few months, but progress is being made and we have plenty of plans for the future.  Our first step was to get the majority of the fields cut back, which we were able to do with the help of a neighbor.  With the fields cut it was easy to see the potential of the place.  We cut back several of the larger growth bushes and started to expose the rambling stone walls.  The fields are completely free of any rocks, a fact made clear by the miles of wide, tall walls surrounding the property.  A little bit of work with a chain saw, and the extent of these walls was revealed.

Looking trim with the fields cut, and fall foliage in bloom.
Looking tidy with the fields cut, and fall foliage in bloom.

We will keep pushing back the overgrowth to expose more field as time passes, and plan to till the existing farmland next year.  Meanwhile, as the weather turns colder, we turn our attention to the house and barn.

The kitchen when we bought it, left, and after demolition, right.
The kitchen when we bought it, left, and after demolition, right.
Treasures from a time passed.
Treasures from a time passed.

The house does not have any electricity or running water, the extent of plumbing being a three hole outhouse.  Our plan is to remodel the existing cape, and build an addition where the ell currently stands.  This plan starts with ripping out the walls, floors, and ceilings of the existing structure, and working with a designer to make sure our new home is everything we need it to be.  The first weekend of teardown took place over Halloween, and the task proved to be much more satisfying than I anticipated.  We ripped out the kitchen walls and ceiling in just a few hours, tearing through horse-hair plaster and garish wallpaper to expose the original chimney and roof beams.  As the winter progresses, it is on to the other rooms and the dismantling of the current ell.

Riping out the kitchen walls.
Ripping out the kitchen walls.

One of the most exciting parts of dismantling a house that was virtually uninhabited for more than twenty years are the discoveries.  While most things of value had been removed, all of the furniture including beds and bureaus remained, along with stacks of books, homework, and town records.  We’ve found tin cans of “crow repellent” and boxes of old holiday cards.  The vintage kitchen woodstove came with the house and will be refurbished and used in our new kitchen.  The paperwork includes copies of deeds for the property dating to 1830.

In addition to all of the projects surrounding the rebuild of the home, we also have to worry about moving our animals.  We have the winter to clean up the interior of the beautiful barn and set up stalls for chickens, goats, and geese.  Since our new location will be much more rural than our previous one, many more considerations for predators are being taken into account.  There will be no more free-ranging and we are looking into a herd dog who can help fend off potential chicken-eaters.  Our intent is to have everything ready for a full transition by Memorial Day, 2016.

If you are wondering what will happen to this space, don’t worry!  I am already in the progress of migrating resources and posts to a new site, dedicated to Hostile Valley Farm.

Don’t forget you can find us on facebook at daysferryorganics, or on instagram at usethepigs.

Questions? Feel free to leave a comment!

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6 thoughts on “New Ventures

  1. We are several years into a similar project and though I’m sure you’ve got all kinds of unsolicited advice coming your way, I’ll add my own: tear down is EASY and yes, satisfying. But don’t go too far. We ripped out all of our horsehair plaster, and if I could go back in time I’d blow in insulation and repair the plaster instead. Sheetrock never looks as good, and a good contractor with knowledge of old houses can easily bring it back – without the garish wallpaper. Even if it seems trashed. Gutting is fun, but we undid smart, lasting applications that can’t be replicated. Same goes for windows- I painstakingly reglazed and painted some of the old windows and they are amazing! The few (expensive, wood, “historically accurate) replacements we purchased are junk in comparison. Sorry for the rant – we’ve just learned so much! Best of luck in the restoration of that beautiful home. We’ve got a cookstove too, and it rocks!

    1. Thank you for the feedback! All advice is appreciated 🙂 I do like the look of the horsehair. With the addition, tearing out the ceiling in the kitchen is necessary either way, but we may leave them in the rest of the house. The windows are definitely keepers!

  2. I love seeing blog posts on this subject as my partner and I think of looking for property of our own in the next year or two (perhaps even leaving the Pacific Northwest for New England…). It’s a great source of inspiration and advice. Thank you for sharing! You have a beautiful blog and I look forward to following your journey.

  3. Hello there! What an exciting adventure as you find treasures from the past at your new farm. On our 80 acre farm we sell free range omega 3 eggs and our chickens are guarded by 2 dogs. Our Charlie is Maremma x Akbash while Chloe is Maremma x Great Pyrnese. Charlie has been seen playing hide and seek with the hens and escorting them back home when they wander too far or stay out past day’s foraging end! These dogs are great guardian breeds and our pups are in demand as well. We’ve been at our 71 year old farmhouse, also doing renos for 7 years now, and it’s coming together. I’m hoping to raise angora rabbits soon and learning to spin their beautiful fibre. There’s no shortage of fun to be had on a hobby farm. Happy renovating!! It’s going to be well worth the hard work! Love your blogs. Angela

    1. Hi Angela,
      Thanks for commenting! We are getting a Maremma as a guard dog in the spring. I had not heard of the breed before, but after researching they seemed like the best breed for us. They sound so sweet in addition to being effective at guarding.
      I hope you enjoy as the adventures continue!

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