Welcome to Antler Valley Farm

The Old Homestead

I don’t know why I call this place The Old Homestead.  It just seems to fit for some reason to me.  It makes me think of people striking a claim to their land and working long hard hours to make ends meat.  Honestly, it just makes me darn proud of them and proud to be trying to carry on their dreams.  I don’t know these people but I love them and their Old Homestead!  Of course I’m not sentimental or sappy or anything silly like that…

 The Old Homestead.

The Old Homestead.  Yep, that’s how I’ll always think of the Old House.  I know that it won’t be there forever so I’ve taken a blue million (a very precise and scientifically accurate number, of course!) pictures of the house and buildings.  By the way, that’s your official warning that I’ve taken a blue million photos and I’m planning on sharing ALOT of them in this post!  There are lots of photos coming your way so get ready!!

        

 

 

 

 

I’ve tried to take pictures in different seasons; when flowers were blooming and beautiful, when the leaves were changing and the house wasn’t quite as hidden, when the trees were dormant and the house was more visible.  I missed getting pictures in the snow this year though.  I do really regret that.  I can only imagine how beautiful it would have been in the snow!  Why, oh why didn’t I drive out there in the snow to get pictures?  Oh yeah, I was too busy sledding with the kiddos!  Yep, totally my fault there.  Anyway, I’m hoping the Old House will survive another year so I can photograph it in the snow.  I just have to keep Jim and his pesky, yet very stout bulldozer away from there until it snows again!

I have to admit that I have this crazy calling to take pictures every time I see this house.  So, like, 4-5 times a week I’m out there taking MORE pictures of this place.  It’s not like the house has moved or anything.  It’s really rather stationary.  I mean I’ve never seen the house move or dance and it’s always in the exact same spot so…  I have no clue why I take so many pictures….  I’ve tried to tell myself it’s curiousity – like if I take a blue million and one pictures the house will suddenly tell me it’s whole life story or something.  I don’t know!!!  I just keep taking pictures and imagining the stories of life, love, hope, hardship, happiness and heartache that these walls must conceal.  I wish these walls could talk because we still know very little about this place.

We did found out that this property started out as a much smaller parcel and the original owner kept buying more land around him until it reached the size it is now.  We were told the original house was built in the 1920s but tax records don’t have a record of when it was built.  We haven’t cleared around all the rocks of the original structure yet, but I’m hoping when we do it will give us the original date.  We thought the house had been added onto and we actually found a rock in the back of the house with the date 1936 carved into the rock.

We are pretty sure this is the date when they added onto the house.

The front two original rooms are quite large and share a huge fireplace and a front porch that sadly has already collapsed.  The added on structures consist of three rooms that you have to access from the outside porch.  Altogether the house forms a T-shape and has porches that run the entire length of 3 sides of the house.  The small fourth side backs up to the root cellar in the bank.  It seems that the house lay out makes it a boarding house of some kind.  That is purely a guess though, but it makes sense with the close proximity to a main road.

We left a lot of the trees around the house to keep it hidden in hopes that it would remain intact until we were ready to do something with it. 

This HUGE tree is one of my favorite things about the property.  I can just imagine climbing all over that tree.  In fact, Jim is a little surprised I haven’t climbed it already! 

The old driveway circles around to this side of the house.  The old well is the structure on the left and the root cellar is just past it, hidden in the bank.

This is the view from the old driveway looking at the house.  The right side of the house consisted of the original 2 rooms and the addition was the 3 rooms on the left.  It’s hard to tell in the pictures but the ceilings in this house are 10 feet tall!! The attic has another 7-8 feet of space above that so it really is a HUGE house.

The house is beautiful and never fails to make me smile.  It is such a simple house yet, it immediately impresses you.  Or at least, it always impresses me.  You come through the trees, see it and can’t help but be intrigued and impressed that it’s still standing.  There is nothing fancy about it, but it’s perfect that way.  It’s simple and perfect.  Just perfect.  And I am totally in love with every part of it.  That was probably already completely obvious though wasn’t it?  Sorry.  I should warn you that I will probably confess my love for this place a few more times before this post is over.  Maybe more than a few?  I’ll try to restrain myself, but I make no promises guys.

Simple and Perfect.  I love it.

I have dreams of restoring this old house to its youthful beauty, but I’m not sure we are going to be able to make that happen.  The house hasn’t been lived in since the 80’s and is definitely showing the neglect.  The rock foundation is giving in places and the roof is starting to leak.  Most of the doors no longer shut completely.  A bear or something with huge claws has ripped through one of the walls.  Completely ripped through the wall!  Aren’t you glad you weren’t there to see that?!?!?  We’ve seen pictures from a hunting camera of one of the bears out there and he is quite large.  I, for one, am glad I wasn’t in that house at the same time as that bear.

We’ve had to board up the windows in the living room to keep the buzzards from building another nest inside the living room for their babies.  Yes, you read that correctly!  Last spring, buzzards built a nest in the corner of the living room and raised 2 babies in there.  And let me just say that buzzard nests stink to high heaven!  I do not have a weak stomach but the smell from their nest last summer inside that house was enough to keep me away!!  This spring we made sure they would have to move their little love nest elsewhere.  Uh-uh, not in my Old House again.

The house is made of all tongue and groove pine boards, walls, ceilings and floors, that are nailed in with cut nails (they look like horseshoe nails).

It’s hard to get a good picture inside the house but all the walls, ceilings and floor are made of the same pine boards.

 The house has no insulation, no plumbing, and only basic wiring in a few of the rooms.  Basically it’s a wooden box that is slowly falling apart.  I’m more than a little amazed that it’s held up this long.  I find myself holding my breath every time we go out there.  Once I see the The Old House is still standing, I can breathe again.  I can’t imagine it not being there, but honestly once we move out there we will have to do something with it.  It’s really not a safe place for our kids to play.  I just don’t have any good ideas on what to do with the Old House.  Jim on the other hand was born ready to tear a house down with a dozer.  He has it all figured out, so I try to make sure he stays occupied with other dozer projects.  Thankfully, that has kept him away…..for now anyway…

We have had several contractors look at it.  One actually laughed and drove away.  I don’t think he ever even got out of his truck.  Another contractor simply said, “Waste of time and money.”  The last contractor wouldn’t go in the house with the buzzards and their nest, but said he would come back in the winter but we haven’t been able to get ahold of him since.  Hmmm, I don’t think he was that interested in fixing up the old place.  Or maybe they all know a lot more than we do.  Jim is adamant that we don’t have the kind of money to fix this place up into anything.  I’m afraid he’s right, but I would still love to get another opinion.  And maybe another one after that…

I could just see the Old House being one awesome barn!  Or Maleah suggested a rustic B&B or guest house.  I don’t know where money for any of that would come from but it’s great to have ideas and dreams!

It’s hard to see in this picture, but on top of the house were these cool old lightning rods.  We were planning to keep them.  Then we went out one day to find that someone had ripped them all off the roof and tore the roof half off in the process.   I might have had thoughts of them twisting their ankle…  I was not a happy camper.

This old chimney is still in good shape after all these years.

The chimney spans nearly 30 feet from the ground to the top and is still in great shape.  Amazing!!  It actually goes through the wall and into the other room for cooking I suppose.  The addition to the house has a chimney as well, but it’s much smaller and is crumbling and leaking.

This was the old fireplace with the frame still in place, although the mantle was stripped off years ago.

I don’t know what kind of hardwood this fireplace frame was made of but, boy is it HEAVY!  As far as I can tell it’s one of the only things in the house not made of pine.  I’m so glad we got it out of the house before it disappeared too.

The addition to the house and the only unbroken window sash in the entire house.  I was heartbroken that it disappeared.

This is a picture of 2 of the 3 rooms that were added on to the house.  You can only reach them by coming out onto the porches and then entering the rooms.  I had left this single unbroken window sash sitting there to be used in our new home.  I had planned to put a mirror behind it and hang it in our guest bathroom.  Sadly, this disappeared along with the lightning rods.  I am hoping to take out some of the other window sashes and repair them somehow to use the same way.  I have sooooo many ideas!

At the very least, I want this house to be taken down and reused somehow.  I would love to use some of the pine boards inside the house we build out there for the walls or a kitchen island, reuse the fireplace frame and reuse some of the huge beams in our barn.  Again, I have soooooo many ideas and so little money.  Ok, enough of my woes, let’s move on to more pictures!!

The Barn:  The barn is in pretty bad shape, but it’s so cool and filled with so much stuff that I can’t wait to go through.  So far, I have found a few old milk crates from the Biltmore Dairy and quite a few old liquior bottles.  One of the neatest things were the handmade birdhouses that lined the front of the barn.  Unfortunately, they were all removed the same night the lightning rods and window sash went missing.  They even dumped the bird nests and eggs on the ground.  I do hope they got splinters for their trouble!!  Sorry, but they could’ve waited a few weeks and let the baby birds leave the nest first….so rude!

Such a neat old barn still filled with some treasure and some trash.

Half the barn roof is falling in and a tree has grown up through the backwall and severely comprised the backside of the barn.

I can just imagine a sweet ole milk cow spending her nights in this barn.  That is a completely fictional thought- I really have no idea if they had a milk cow or not but it’s a sweet thought that gives me the warm fuzzies!

The Root Cellar:  The root cellar is just outside the back of the house.  They dug into the bank and then built rock walls.  It’s hard to see in the pictures with the vines growing over the walls and roof but it’s quite large.

You can barely see the doorway through the vines in this picture. 

They put so much time and thought into building this place.  The root cellar is perfectly placed just behind the house in the bank. 

The roof has partially collapsed and is blocking the entrance into the root cellar.  It doesn’t look like there is anything left in there but I would still love to get inside there and look around.

The pigpen.  At least I think this is an old pigpen.  It has fencing around it that makes me think it was for pigs anyway.  However, it is pretty close to the house and I would’ve thought the pigs would be a little farther away than that.

This is what we are calling the PigPen. 

The outhouse.  One of my favorite buildings is the old outhouse!  When I was little, I actually lived in a house for several years with no indoor toilets.  Yep, we used the old outhouse.  Kids today are so spoiled-cell phones and indoor toilets.  Geeez, lucky kids.

I think all outhouses are basically the same…. or at least poor people’s outhouses are basically all the same!!

Jim is completely opposed to doing anything with this outhouse seat-other than burning it!!

A tree fell on the top of the outhouse over the winter and destroyed most of it.  Luckily the door survived and I have saved it to hang in our barn one day.  Just a little conversation starter….  I took the seat out of the outhouse and thought maybe I could clean it, repair it and have it made into a little seat somehow.  For some reason, Jim finds that completely disgusting!  Are you kidding me?!?!?  Do you know what my husband does for a living???  He cracks me up!

The well.  Just about 10 feet from the house is an old well.  We measured it to be about 60 feet deep with over 9 feet of water sitting in the bottom.  It has this cool old wooden bucket and hand crank that just fascinates me!  It also terrifies me since the lid no longer latches on top anymore!  Currently we have a large concrete slab sitting on top to keep curious children and animals out.

Such a neat old well!

It terrifies me with the kiddos out there though. 

The chicken coop.  The old chicken coop comes complete with the roost intact.  It even has the old food and water dishes left inside! The funniest part is the old mailbox they used as a nesting box for the hens to lay their eggs.  That’s too funny!!

The old chicken coop.

I cracked up the first time I looked in here and saw a mailbox for a nesting box!

The old feed bowls are actually still in the coop just waiting for more chickens.

The girls were hoping to fix this up for our chickens but I’m not sure that is going to work.  It may be a little bit past the repair stage.

The trees.

The old trees are the heart of this place in my opinion!

These 2 huge old trees are the heart of this place I think.  Before we ever let the logging guy start I made him promise he would not cut down these 2 trees or harm them in anyway.  He assured me that he had no interest in either tree and would not hurt them.  You just know how crazy he thought I was!!

The flowers.

These bulbs were a complete surprise to us!

We didn’t know these bulbs were there until we went out oneday to meet the grading guy to talk about the driveway.  He was starting in 2 days and wanted to put the drive right through them.  We had looked at the property in the late fall and bought it in December so we had no idea these bulbs were there.  We compromised and moved the drive over some and then Maleah and I worked furiously digging up about a hundred of these old bulbs and giving them to family and friends.  We were able to leave the majority of them where they were thankfully!  I’m so glad we did because this spring we got to see them blooming every time we drove up the driveway!

This picture shows the ones we saved by moving the driveway over some.  I could hardly wait to see them bloom this year and in April I finally got my wish!  About half of them bloomed this year in 3 different colors.

We went out to meet the well guy and there they were! 

They were so beautiful!

Completely worth all the time and trouble of digging them up.

There are flower beds everywhere around the Old Homestead.

These are some of the petite little daffidols planted around the Old House.  I’ve never seen them grow in tiny clumps of 3s like this.

I love, love, love all the flowers that are planted at the Old House.

Whoever lived here over the years, obviously loved flowers.  They planted numerous flowers and bushes that we have been able to keep and work around.  I am hoping we can save them all regardless of what we have to do with the Old House.  (Yes, I do know the Old House isn’t a proper noun and shouldn’t be capitalized but since I always call it by that name I have decided it is now an official name which makes it a proper name.  Therefore, it must be capitalized!  Ha! I even snuck in an English lesson for ya!!)

The rock wall.

This rock wall always astounds me.  It’s so rustic and imperfectly simple.  I love it!

As you come up to the house there is a rock wall that lines the driveway on the right.  It circles all the way around to the back of the house.  I can’t imagine how long that must have taken to build!  It’s still standing and in good shape though.  I never want to tear that down either.  Do you think they make glass domes big enough to protect the entire place from everything, including time????  I wish…

I took this picture of the girls in front of the old house oneday after we had been picking up glass and sticks all afternoon.  The flowers had just started blooming in spring 2016 and it was a beautiful picture.  It’s a something old, something new kind of picture.  

Every time we are out there I try to find something new to show our kids about The Old Homestead.  I want them to respect that this land used to be someone else’s.  I also want them to respect all the hard work those people did and the pride they must have had in their land.  I want our kids to work hard, have pride in our farm and be respected for it.  Prayer, hard work and determination always pays off in my opinion.

Maybe, one day our kids will be telling our grandkids stories of our family’s adventures out here.  Stories of prayer, hard work, and determination!!  Stories of having a dream and making it come true!  What could be better than that?

 

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