Maine Farmhouse Journal
It is dark when we arrive at the farm - our first trip in nearly a month.
We couldn't get away until after the new year. The thermometer in the carriage
house shows -12 degrees F., but the house was warm and inviting when we
arrived. We are both impressed by the friendly feeling these old timbers
give you. It's nice to be back at the farm, and get to know it a bit better
with its winter face on. As hard as it is coming up in the winter, this
is really a good time to be here and find out what little things will have
to be fixed or fine tuned to our tastes. It's kind of like camping out,
and a new beginning at the same time.
The car was loaded down (again) with more basic housekeeping supplies and tools. While Penny feeds the dogs and unloads boxes, I unload the car, each time climbing over the 2' mound of ice at the entry to the carriage house.
Lugged in a spare microwave for the kitchen, a spare computer to set up to handle book orders while we're at the farm, snowshoes and a spare set of cross-country skis, chairs, tables, a kerosene lamp and heater (for when the electricity goes out) and lots more stuff.
Turned the circuit breaker for the hot water heater back on (Paul, our contractor, had shut it off when he left last week - no reason to keep water hot if no one is here!), and 4 hours later we still had no hot water. Ed provided us a new hot water heater with the house, when the old one started going out. We'll need to get the new hot water heater installed - Isuspect the problem is the special wiring done by our late tenant to run the hot water heater off the emergency generator.
Temperature in the house still running higher than to our liking, and the furnace is still cycling on-and-off too often. Kept waking us up most of the night, and the dogs had trouble settling down.
The morning was bright and the sun sparkled on the foot of snow in the fields. Rolled up the window quilts, and the house was bright and cheerful. The water heater finally got the water in the house hot sometime overnight, so we had hot water to wash in. Everything in the kitchen worked fine. Had a full day of errands to run, including the lumber yard (first order of lumber for the carriage house), hardware store (salt, dog yard fencing, ice chipper), town clerk (register our beloved 285,000-mile GMC Jimmy in Maine where it will be living from now on, check on the winter taxes, get a dump sticker), cellular phone shop (transfer service on the Jimmy to Maine), gas station (5 gallons of kerosene), food store, Phil's garage (Jimmy inspection sticker), find out where the dump is, etc. Chip away at the ice mound at the entry and get it removed. Put up a 25'x25' temporary dog run out the back of the kitchen, but had to dig out 3' of snow and ice from the back kitchen door that had slid off the roof.
The ADT security alarm rep comes by, complete with an Irish brogue, and no desire to be in Maine during the winter. His wife says their only move will be back to Ireland (I wonder if he'd like to ship us books from there?). We have a nice visit, and arrange for a low temperature, fire, and motion detector system for the house, to be installed in February.
Jerry and Chris (former tenants) have cleaned their stuff out of the house, and Dot and Ed (former owners) have gotten a good start on removing their stuff in the attic and barn. Carriage house downstairs is cleaned out, but upstairs is still packed full of culch. ("Culch" for you non-New Englanders, is an accumulation of miscellaneous stuff including, in various proportions, stuff that is better off in the dump, family heirlooms, bric-a-brac yard sale items, stuff that is broken-but-still-usable-for-parts, and things you've forgotten about that have been stashed away in case you ever need ‘em.)
Paul arrives on the morning of the day we're heading back, and we confer on the best way to turn a 150-year old carriage house into a 23'x15' office for the book business. We're also going to put in a new entry to shield people from the ice and snow sliding off the roof, an 8'x12' mud room, a 7'x12' pantry next to the kitchen, and a 11'x15' book shipping room next to the office. Paul has set up housekeeping in one of the rooms downstairs, and will stay on for two weeks or so at a time, working on the renovations. He's been our family's contractor for several years, and it's a good working arrangement. Leaving things in Paul's capable hands, we're back on the road for our 4 ½ hour trip west.
Allen and Penny Crabtree
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Last updated February 1, 1999
Copyright © 2000 by Allen Crabtree
Copyright © 2000 by Allen Crabtree