Monday, March 14, 2016

A sad trip down memory lane.

"The Farm"

In 1973, Dad bought a 120 acres and a 1890s farmhouse from his brother.  This was my second home from birth, about a 2 hour drive (it always seemed so much longer than that!!) from home.  We spent most weekends and entire summers up there.  Mom would have everything ready to go when Dad got home from work Friday and we'd load up the car and go.  Saturday would be spent cutting the grass (an all day project) and Sunday would be for exploring and cleaning up to come back home.  

Kids would probably die if they were stuck at a place like this nowadays.  We had a TV, but it was an old black & white console set that we were lucky to get 5 channels on, using our rabbit ear antenna.  Pretty sure it's still there and works!  Dad always had a radio playing, tuned to a Tiger game if one was on, or a country station the rest of the time.  We had a shelf full of books that I'm sure we all read 100 times.  We had board games, coloring books and the great outdoors.  Most of our days were spent outside, Dad would whistle for us at mealtimes and we'd come running.  

I wish I had an original picture of the house - that gorgeous (at the time) porch was built on while I was in high school.  There had just been a basic cement porch that stretched across to where the stairs are now and between the porch & the basement door was my "sand box" or patch of dirt that I played in. 
Circa 1991

The whole reason we went up there this weekend was to get pictures because my sister is acting on Mom's behalf and talking to a realtor.  However Mom never offered up the keys for us to get INTO the house!  My brother has been living up there since before Dad passed away in 2009, so it's hard to say what condition the inside of the house is in anyway.  I don't know 100% the story behind him being there, so I'm not getting into those details. I do know the sisters are very bitter about it.  They were mad because he hasn't "made any attempt to keep the place up how Dad would have".  Hmm.  Seems to me that you generally need money to buy supplies and transportation to get said supplies from town...neither of which he has!  I'm not even entirely certain how he gets food!
LOL - that's the SAME tree in both photos!

There's no running water, but I'm not sure why.  The well is in the basement and there is electricity, you'd think the heater & pump would work!  In the year or two before he got sick, Dad had the second story roof raised 18 inches.  But the upstairs was never finished to Dad's perfectionist satisfaction.  As far as I know, Bo has the tall part of the house blocked off and more or less lives in the dining room / kitchen.  The bathroom is over there, too but if there's no running water, its pretty useless.

It looks different to me now.  And I don't mean because it's faded & worn.  The tall part looks weird.  Maybe because the roof isn't as steep and that attic window in the peak is gone.  
This is the view from the driveway.  You can see a definite line where the newer siding is.  I think I saw that "front" door open once in my entire life,  It was always covered in plastic.  Its quite the drop to the ground since there's no steps or porch. 

Directly opposite the above view.....
This is the north side so it is a bit mossy.  

 The view from the road as approaching.  
We joked about looking at this picture later and seeing a face in the upstairs window!

Pretty sure the door is even older than the sticker claims. 

Our cousin Debbie went for the ride with us and took this picture.

Bo has a lot of crap piled up on the porch.  The sisters kept wanting me to look inside things, to which I'd exclaim there's probably a head or body parts in there.  I didn't find any...right away!  Linda and I opened a table top grill that is perched on the rail and as we peered inside, Laurie grabbed both of our necks and scared the crap out of us!. 
This angle shows the basement door (with a wagon in front of it and a couple jars of mystery liquids. I wasn't about to touch those things!!) The "back porch" has another door (where the hose is) that I've never seen open but inside the porch is where the fridge & freezer are.  There's never been a washer or dryer here.  As as kid when we stayed all summer, we'd make weekly trips into town to the laundromat

I'd guess that over 100 acres is all wooded.  When I was in high school, Dad made a deal with the neighbor, he could keep his horses in our pasture around the yard, as long as I could ride whenever I wanted. The horses also helped to keep the field grazed down, which supposedly kept the snakes away.  Didn't happen!  But I have 1000 stories that involve those horses! 
This lilac is ancient, but has buds on it!  If I remember correctly, these are white. 

This tree shows some recent ravages of time.  The branch pointing toward Laurie still has flexible new growth and buds, so it just fell recently.  The horizontal branch is hanging in its neighbor.  We call this Mel's tree, since back when we were having family reunions every year, my cousin Mel always pitched his tent under this tree.

Those family reunions were big deals.  We'd easily have over 100 people there - and nobody was allowed in the house, except Mom & Dad and occasionally Aunt Betty.  Mom & Dad would rent a couple porta-potties for the weekend (which usually stretched 3-4 days!) and everyone fended for themselves in regards to food and lodging (aka tents).  We started having them when my maternal Grandma turned 80.  I think I was a junior in high school.  The first time Randy went with me to one, I told him to not be surprised or offended at anything he saw, heard or was done to him.  I'm glad it didn't scare him away!  The only way to be safe at night was to have a kid in the tent with you.  Laurie always had multiple nieces & nephews in with her!
This huge white pine is the reason we all love pine trees now.  There was always a breeze under it, no matter how hot it was out.  When we we kids, Dad worked up there a couple years, my brother Terry would climb it every afternoon to watch for Dad to drive down the road.  Which made me mad, since I wasn't tall enough to jump up and grab the lowest branch and haul myself up!

I did spend a lot of hours sitting in this apple tree.  I'd take books, Barbies and my imagination up there with me.

There used to be a fantastic orchard in the yard, but time has taken its toll on them, too.  Probably 1/3 of the trees are gone and the rest are looking really sad.  All I remember having is apple, pear & plum trees, tho.  I know Dad tried to plant peaches and stuff, but during the week no one was there to water the new trees and the deer would eat the leaves.
These concord grape vines have been here as long as I can remember, too.  I don't think anyone ever successfully made wine out of them, even after several attempts by different people.

We do have several nice pine trees along the road.
 Close up of the little tree in front of the house, the one from both pics. 
It might be 6 feet tall.

This is the area closest to the house called "the Estates" during family reunions.  It's where me & my siblings would camp.  Hey, its our parent's place, we get to be closest to them!  

I always had my tent under this tree.  I have no idea what kind this is, elm I think.  
That's the pond Dad had dug out beyond.

The pond was crazy high.  The "beach" is about 8 feet away from the edge of the water. 
They must have gotten a lot more snow / rain this winter than we did further south.  

At the far south end of the yard / pasture is a river in a valley.  
I took these from along the top of the ridge on the edge of the treeline.  We spent a lot of hours walking in these woods.  And if Dad was still here, he would have been crossing the river on that tree and I'd be blindly following him....and I'd be the one to fall in the river!  When that thought flitted thru my mind, I could imagine him laughing because it's so damn true!

 The bridge.
 Looking back toward the house.  We used to keep all that mowed. 

When I was in junior high or so, Laurie and I were out by the fire pit (the base of an old silo, so it was a large stone ring) and were watching a storm roll across the neighbor's pasture across the road.  It was sunny & blue sky on our side, but black & ominous coming quickly towards us.  We decided idly to start heading toward the house.  As we walked, lightning hit a tree along this same ridge and we took off running as soon as we heard the crack!  And pieces of tree bark went flying past us as we ran!  One tree had all of it's bark skimmed off one side and the pieces we picked up were only about 1 1/2 inches thick.
Gratuitous back-lit tree picture

Looking down the road from our driveway to the bridge. It was really muddy and we were happy to see the road grader go back & forth twice while we were there.

From the bridge.
Back in the day, this was the deepest part of the river and we could jump off the bridge.  Then it collapsed and the rubble was never removed.  It's still the deepest, but not as deep as it used to be.  There's no way in hell I'd jump from that height now!
Spent a lot of hours fishing here, too.

It was pretty neat that we had a sunny & warm day, but since nothing was really growing yet, we could see way back into the woods.  This is the valley where the river is.
This is upstream from us, the other side of the bridge.  The neighbor used to have cattle, so we'd swim in the river and play "Dodge the Cow Patty".

We saw clear signs that someone had been inviting themselves onto the "Back 40" to do some hunting.  Like this deer skull wired to the gate.

This was a dog skull of some sort.  I took this with a zoom and when I looked at it - is that another set of antlers in the tree??   If you're squeamish, don't look at the next picture!

Well, I found the head I was expecting to find on the porch!  It was a quasi-fresh 4 point buck head lying on the branch.  Laurie said she could smell it, but I couldn't.  But I sure wouldn't want to be around there once it really got warm!

 The last thing that caught my attention was this stacked rock.  That clearly doesn't happen naturally!

Laurie posted the picture of the 3 of us on Facebook and so many cousins commented that they'd love to go visit because they heard so many fond memories, etc, etc, etc.  I think if they did go visit....they'd be sorely disappointed because it couldn't live up to the hype.  The house & yard are shadows of their former glory.  I'm pretty sure Laurie & Linda felt more emotional about visiting than I did.  I think once Dad passed away, all the life was gone from here, too. He made the Farm what it was and Mom just doesn't care that much about it.  She's getting up in years herself (altho she denies it!) and doesn't want to deal with taxes and relatives bugging to hunt on the land and it's just a lot to deal with for her.  I heard there was some interest from family, friends & neighbors in the area, but for some reason they all seemed to think Mom would just hand it over to them!  Once it was appraised and Laurie told them what the selling price was, they all backed off.  Funny how that works!

I'm sure there will be at least one more trip up there.  Mom seems to think we can sell the house "as is" and leave all the junk on the porch and such.  Um NO!  That's not how that works, either!  So we'll have to take a dumpster up there and get rid of a lot of stuff.  And a year or two ago, Mom asked if we wanted anything out of the house and a trip was made there.  However, I had a bad cold and it was within days of Mom going in to have a hip replacement, so I didn't go.  I didn't want to be locked in the car with her and risk getting her sick.  I asked them to grab me a picture that's been hanging in the living room forever.  It's probable not even a real painting, but its a woods scene with a river and a bunch of birch trees. And they didn't get it for me!!  They claimed there wasn't any room in the truck!  Seriously?  It's a framed print.  It's not even 2 inches wide and is flat.  So that damn thing still better be in there!!!

So this story will be continued at another time, just not sure when!


edit - pretty appropriate that I posted this on what would have been Dad's 80th birthday.  Happy Birthday Dad!

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