Well, we bought a farm. Sort of a farm. It's definitely farmish--sheds, a pole building, barbed wire fences, a heated cattle watering dealio, and some kind of animal feeding station that looks like a playground carousel. We are as surprised as anyone.
We had been planning a move to the country for some time, but until last November Plan A involved building a house on the Bide-A-Wee land. We had a hilltop site in mind, we had talked to a house designer, then an architect. Things seemed to be coming together until.... Until all of a sudden they didn't seem to be coming together. We weren't thrilled with the designs, we couldn't see the whole picture--it was a vision thing, and a practical thing, a philosophical thing, a money thing. From heights of elation and anticipating ground-breaking in the spring, we were back to zero, or maybe sub-zero. We were bummed.
But late last summer a house had come up for sale, literally a mile down the road from Bide-A-Wee. An old house, several times added-on, with some attractively rustic outbuildings, at the foot of a steep hill. The lower part of the hill was planted in corn or soybeans; higher up it turned to mature hardwood forest. On the west side of the house were tall cottonwood trees, so the place was shaded on hot summer afternoons. The whole set-up seemed extremely pleasant; I had often admired it as we drove by.
|On the deck, evidence of internal destruction, which began the day we bought the house.|
Still, we resisted looking at it. Our goal was to build our own house at Bide-A-Wee, we said; why waste our time, the realtor's time, looking at some house we knew we weren't going to buy. Well, in fact, at one point we made an appointment to see it, then cancelled it. Then a couple of weeks later the realtor--the sister of one of the owners--called us back. If we had any interest in the house, she said, why didn't we just go have a look. By this time all the coming-together-ness had come un-together. We went to see the house the day after Thanksgiving.
|The outbuildings: I see a brick oven in the pole building at right, and gardens adjacent.|
It wasn't love at first sight, but it was definitely like. The main floor rooms--kitchen, living room, bedroom--were spacious (though the decor needed some updating). The upper level was a warren of cozy rooms with slanted walls, dormer windows, painted plank floors--a seaside cottage feel in rural Dunn County. And there were those sheds. Red ones. Two deer stands. A black walnut tree. Plus 33 more acres, 20-plus of mature hardwood forest--oak, maple, cherry.
|Who doesn't love a red shed with a corrugated roof?|
Maybe the clincher was the fact that when we stood on the Bide-A-Wee hill and looked down the valley, what we saw at the end of the valley, that was this property, what I've come to think of as Harlson Hill.
Cutting to the chase: We made an offer in early December, went through a little back and forth, reached a deal. Went through various inspections--for a while there, no one could find the septic tank; troubling. We got it all sorted out on a pretty short timeline, and closed on the place on January 30.
We've still got some work to do on the "new" place before moving in. We had a new maple floor laid in the kitchen there, and existing wood floors refinished, this week; at the same time, we were having stairs refinished in Saint Paul--all of which left me exiled, dog-sitting, at Bide-A-Wee, as griffon hair and wet polyurethane are best kept well apart. Not such a dismal fate, but I was eager to get on with...everything. We're still hoping to be installed at the new country estate by the end of this month. There will still be a fair amount of work to do inside the house, and then garden planning, the anticipation of foraging in our new woods--a brave new world, all round!
So now you know why communications in these pages have been a bit sparse of late, and likely will be so for a while. Once things are a bit more settled, there will be much to report.