Farm Journal 2013
Late Winter January - March 2013
Winter in Maine is usually a hunker down and cozy in time of year. Not much to report on as far as advancing with projects on the farmhouse. We mostly hoped to just weather the freezing temps without broken pipes, etc. With the exception of the blizzard Nemo, we managed the winter without much problem. The Vermont Castings wood stove in the living room worked great and with additional space heaters used 'on-demand' in baths and bedrooms, we fared quite well actually! We enjoyed accessing the Big Indian Lake this winter for some wonderful cross country ski outings. In February, we spent a nice Sunday at the Camden Snow Bowl during the toboggan races while I meandered the shops. We also discovered a wonderful ski home that accommodated us in ski-in/ski-out luxury at Saddleback Mountain ski resort in the gorgeous Rangeley Lakes region of Western Maine. We spent a long weekend there in January and skipped out again in latter March after receiving some fantastic fresh powder for early Spring skiing! So below is a sampling of photos shot over the late winter months....the girls still enjoying their horses almost daily as well as sledding, skiing, and snow blowing! Our Caitlyn also had her January birthday celebrated for the first time in our new cozy farmhouse. Enjoy the photos!
And just click on any image to view in slideshow mode...
Spring has finally begun to bloom into full blossom! We survived winter and are now hard at work with spiffing up our farm property for summer days ahead! It's hard to believe that only a mere couple of weeks ago the lake was still mostly frozen over and we were just beginning to hear a few song birds here and there. The loons are now calling all through the night and the Canadian geese are with us again making their nests and swimming gracefully across the now sky blue lake. With a run of several amazing sunny days, we're burning fields, pastures, hay meadows, and along culverts, and under tree groves and fence rows. With all the clearing and burning, however, I (and 3 of the kiddos) contracted a horrid case of poison ivy break out (theirs' fortunately not as awful as mine) that's rudely hindered my progress with Spring projects! After a visit to the doctor, I hope to have this little nasty episode cleared up within the next week. Meanwhile, Andrew pulled some stumps for me in the south lawn area where I hope to plant a more formal garden area. The daffodils are blooming along with tiny purple violets and a few dandelions making their appearance. A few of the trees and bushes are beginning to show hints of unfolding leaves. With more long sunny days ahead...and a few showers....we'll be very lush and green in no time! Off with the snow blower...on with the mower!
Here are a series of photos taken while burning our hay meadow. Fire permits are only allowed for after 5 pm in our town, so burning would start around dusk and go into the evening. When we decided to burn the perimeter of the hay field, the fire got into some tall briars and weeds near the tree line. Andrew got very panicked and called our local fire department. By the time the trucks arrived, we had gotten the fire put out. The volunteer fire guys were so gregarious and friendly! They opted to hang around and help us burn our entire perimeter of the meadow....a task that would have taken us easily 3 weeks or more to chip away at....however with all the men and 2 fire trucks on hand we were able to get it ALL done in a matter of a couple of hours. Impressive...and thanks so much to the St. Albans Volunteer Firemen!!
After all the burning we did this Spring, the kids and I ended up with a voracious attack of poison ivy! Caitlyn and I got it the worst and had to succumb to an emergency visit to the hospital. That put quite the damper on all my ambitious Spring and early Summer plans, but we still managed to tackle some interior renovation projects starting with the Living Room. Andrew, my husband, took a long weekend and then had a week off from work so we took advantage of the extra time and literally banged out some projects. What a good feeling to finally be making some progress!
New paneling for the Entry way and stairway. Rather than attempt to scrape all these walls, we opted for paneling. I chose a wider panel style hung horizontally for the entry that borrows from the exterior clapboard and transitions nicely out onto the gingerbread front porch. We hung traditional beadboard paneling in the stairway. Boy does it ever brighten up these dark spaces!
I made an executive decision to take down the far wall in the upstairs bathroom. This eliminates a deep hardly accessible closet in the bedroom that despite innumerable attempts to reconfigure and reorganize was just not worth the effort.... and now opens straight into the bathroom. This also allows more room for a jetted tub awaiting downstairs in the basement. It just feels so much more light and open now! With added privacy for the master bedroom. This being our only upstairs bathroom, it is definitely shared. However, the private entrance off our bedroom gives it a more master suite feeling to the space. You never know what you might find when walls start coming down in these old homes. We found a treasure on the back side of the door frame....a board signed by R. Hanson probably dating back to the late 1800's. Very cool!
Now onto the Dining Room. A load bearing wall between the kitchen and dining room comes down and a large support beam is anchored to the ceiling through the attic. Old wiring still hangs and will need to be replaced. Wallpaper is really stuck so I just paint over it temporarily. Bye Bye Red! More signed boards are discovered as well as several layers of various styles of wallpaper and then a pristine layer of stained beadboard under the drywall. Still shocked that they would drywall over this stuff. Crazy! But then again, here we are taking the whole thing down! What can I say? Hook-ups were also installed...finally!....for the washer/dryer in a less than ideal spot in the kitchen. But that's the only place they will fit right now, that is, where there's plumbing and pipes won't freeze. Last but not least, the younger girls room downstairs underwent a major organizing and overhaul.
June 30th and we celebrate our twins' 14th birthday...their first in the farmhouse...in great style! Then it's July 4th fun and move on into Mid July Summerfest Weekend and Bicentennial celebrations in our village of St. Albans. We also spent time by our Big Indian lake and a major heat streak spurs a spontaneous trek down to the ocean and Mile Long Beach with a lobster dinner near Five Islands.
Late Summer 2013
This summer has been quite the balancing act. We always feel the pressure this far north to use every second of warm weather to prepare for the next winter. This is especially felt when it's an old drafty farmhouse that can get really expensive to heat! However, the summers in Maine are the reason to live here and muck our way through the long winters. Summers in Maine are gorgeous! And the days are so long that it does lull you into the feeling that they will just stretch on forever. So we have to find that gentle balance between forging ahead with all the to-do lists and also just kicking back to enjoy this season's incredible beauty! This includes enjoying...and sprucing up...the freshly renovated Living Room and Entry.
Early Fall 2013
Usually September rolls in spectacular and warm. We normally get some cool temps at night with gorgeous sunny days that make it true Indian Summer. Of course we relish every bit of warmth September brings us because we do know what's right around the corner! This Fall we enjoyed having my Dad visit for a week or so and then we were all so excited to trek back with him for a long visit in Texas. That's definitely the beauty of homeschooling! We took a northern route through the NH mountains, Vermont, Upstate NY and an overnight at Niagara Falls. Hubby stayed here and tackled the upstairs bathroom plumbing and additional electrical upgrades plus getting started on our master bedroom. Yay! His friend came over to help with scraping the walls (yes the wallpaper all came down!) and everything became white. I now have a clean canvas to start with and no more ripped stained wallpaper...although I do confess that it was a difficult decision for me! While Dad was here, we climbed Borestone Mountain (yes, even my almost 80 yr old Dad!) and son, Andrew, demonstrated his flying abilities with his new RC plane in the hay meadow.
Fall Trip to Texas 2013
This trip to Texas was life altering for me. I hadn't been back to my home state or hometown (Lucas/Allen north of Dallas) for over 5 years and then went back in June of 2012 when my mom died. That was just last Summer. Now hardly a year later we're back again and I have the chance to really reconnect with old friends and see Kansas family again. This time before so much time has whisked by! My sis-in-law, Carole, also took a photoshoot of me and the kiddos...my first ever!....so that was a real treat! My kids and cousins did the suburbia trick-or-treating that was a total novelty for my farm kids while I got to indulge in lots of great shopping (and wine sipping!) in all my old favorite haunts...downtown at the Crescent, Highland Park Village, Knox/Henderson as well as the beautiful strolling outdoor shops of Watters Creek which is right in Allen! Unbelievable! Of course I couldn't miss the McKinney Square nor resist the great thrift stores in the area. We traveled through the Flint Hills of Kansas and did a couple of trailrides at my uncle's place on all the familiar back roads of my childhood days spent on my Kansan grandparents' farms. We came back near my birthday and happened to stop over at my longtime friend's house in NH on that very day so I was treated to a very special birthday dinner at their new restaurant in New London. I came back from this trip feeling very rejuvenated and more confident within myself....also just brimming with decor and landscaping ideas for this old farm!
Late Fall 2013
So we're back home in Maine! It's now mid November and we are edging into the Holidays...my fave time of year! Maine has certainly rounded the bend and it's cold outside, the trees are bare...or mostly bare....and it's cozy in and cuddle up time! Hubby's been busy with our bedroom and the electrical is run for new outlets into our bedroom and even down to the front porch. There's also a gas line run to our bedroom for a future fireplace. I'm totally psyched and can't wait to start creating a new bedroom oasis! We also took a little belated birthday trek down to Camden just for fun. I found a granite wine pourer...locally made from a granite cobblestone...with a stone spigot. Very unique! I also fell in love with some remote controlled flameless candles. Then it was back to Belfast for fish n chips. A great get away and hopefully a finished bedroom for the Holidays!
Farmhouse Holidays 2013
OK, last year I had lots of color to deal with in this house and I chose to go with a turquoise and eggplant/plum theme accented with gorgeous peacock plumes...Fun!....that were totally trending, unique, and really spoke to me. However, that was last year. This year I'm going a bit lighter with tans and russets and accents of cobalt blue. I guess I'm just feeling a bit more traditional this year!
Debbie Hayes Gallagher | Lifestyle