Monday, January 23, 2017

No Garden This Year




What?!?  Yes, you read right, we aren't doing a garden this year. Due to all the work and time that will taken up in building our new house, we decided it would be best not do our usual vegetable garden. Sad, I know :(

one of our first vegetable gardens

my homegrown heirloom tomatoes I will miss the most!

Instead, we will be purchasing a CSA (community supported agriculture) share so that we can still enjoy farm-fresh produce and cook with seasonal, local ingredients. Plus I enjoy the challenge of creating a week's worth of meals based on what we get in our share box each week!

beets from our garden

peppers harvested from our garden in November

Not to worry--we will still get to dig in the dirt a little bit. We will be busy planting fruit trees, perennial plants and vegetables and constructing the garden at the new property all through the spring and summer. We plan to build several rows of raised beds surrounded by a picket fence and bordered by berry bushes. Below is a sketch I drew up a while back of the kitchen garden, which will sit directly south of the house.


I'm so excited to get started on everything. We've already purchased some of the fruit trees to plant--some apples, pears, and plums. I also hope to add some figs, nectarines, and maybe a cherry or two to the mix.



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Old Tenant House





What's that? Yup, you read it right--there is an old tenant house (or modest farm dwelling) that sits just over the property line from the land we have been given on which to build our house!




 It's in pretty rough shape and overgrown with vegetation (we saw the biggest spider we've ever seen in our lives inside) but interesting nonetheless. It appears to have been quite altered but contains three rooms with a sleeping loft above and is clad in vertical wood siding and features a stone exterior chimney with upper brick portion. It sits on a foundation of rough stacked stone piers.





One of the coolest things is the big "bottle dump" trash pit down the hill from the house, where there are literally hundreds of old glass bottles all over the ground that have been stuck in the dirt for who knows how many decades.


Here are more photos:



one of the only remaining windows in the house

the first room upon entering--the primary "living room" or "parlor" as evidenced by the mantel


a view of the primary entrance door to the house into the "living room" or "parlor"

This room in the photos below may have been a bedroom possibly--it contains a ladder that leads to a loft above likely used for sleeping or storage.




The newspaper in the photo below looks as though it was used as insulation between wood exterior and interior walls. I found a piece that had a date of 1915 on it!



the upstairs loft



This room in the photo below was the old kitchen. You can see the watermarks/ghostmark on the wood wall where the stove was and there is still an existing piece of a stove pipe piercing the roof.



After all this time of wanting to rehab an old farmhouse, it's thrilling to know that there is indeed something old right near where we will be building a new house. I'm just grateful that I was able to document the structure before it falls in or is damaged any further.




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Using Reclaimed Materials in a New Build





Using reclaimed building materials in a new house or in home d├ęcor projects is super trendy these days (in my opinion). I think we have to be very careful in how we go about doing this--especially in new construction. A few examples of reclaimed materials might be old wood, windows, brick, stone, architectural trim and interior moldings, old mantels, brackets, and so forth.


It's one thing to use some old wood to mill reclaimed wood flooring if it's from something that is local or that belonged to the property, but I think it's entirely another to rip historic architectural features out of abandoned properties with no concern as to its provenance or the context in which it was used.


I completely understand that people love a beautiful old mantel but I feel that I need to respect the piece's history and context in how it was used.  Don't get me wrong--I'm all for using old materials in order to recycle them especially if they have already been taken out of a property that was demolished--but let's not go stripping houses and buildings for their architecture before their fate is decided.


We are hoping to use a few reclaimed materials in our build--in particular some reclaimed heart pine for flooring. Heart pine was widely used in early North Carolina homes and other buildings-there are several lumber businesses in the area that specialize in using old, discarded heart pine wood. We may also use some stones from the property to use in the fireplace construction or for steps outside or around the porches. If we can find some nice old wood on the property that would be suitable we may even think about using the wood for beams or some shelving.
Below are some inspiration photos that I have saved of reclaimed materials used in new construction: