Twelve Future Farmhouse Projects

For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Hebrews 3:4

The previous posts on “Fixing an Old Farmhouse” series gave an idea of where we are as far as how much work we have done on this 1910 farmhouse. We started by clearing and cleaning up the outdoor spaces, followed by fixing up the interior of the home, and now we find ourselves going back to focus on the outdoors, as there are many things we have to handle. This post is about those future projects, which will be tackled little by little, as this has been and continues to be a cash-only renovation, hence why it takes longer. Patience is a virtue.

The Roof

The most expensive project will be the installation of a new metal roof. This is a task for roofing professionals, and we wouldn’t take a chance with it. Any slight mistakes would eventually become expensive issues. For now, the roof is coated and will last a few years.

The roof as it was when we saw the place for the first time.
The same 110 year old roof after coating.

Dangerous Trees

Another important project is the removal of an enormous tree that is not looking too healthy, and is in proximity to the house. We have two other dead trees to remove, large but those are far away from the house. This is another project that is a bit expensive and must be done by tree experts.

Large tree next to the side entrance.
As you can see, it is massive. It is covered in moss, which is not a good sign.
The tree has many areas like this one.
This is another tree that is dead and must be removed. It is big.
Unfortunately, the third tree is my beloved monster tree. After a much dreaded discussion, we agreed that it would be best to remove it. Poison Ivy is growing wild inside and around it, and it is very difficult to remove.

The Driveway

Another item on our list of outdoor “must handle” issues is the driveway. Over time, the soil changes. When it rains the driveway becomes very muddy with two large areas that retain water. A couple loads of gravel should take care of the issue. For now, we have been collecting pinecones and pine needles from the property and placing them in the problem area. It works temporarily. In addition, we have to patch the old cement part that was uncovered.

Not a pretty sight now, but worse when it rains.

The Porch

The porch ceiling needs to be repainted eventually. The cement floor needs to be tiled to prevent further deterioration. Right now, it is cement that we fixed, patched, and painted. Ideally, I would like to place slate tile or brick on top.

What it used to be when we bought the place.
For now, we maintain it until we can take care of it properly.

The Well

The well has come a long way from what it used to be. We would like to enclose the well with a small shed-like structure. It will provide more insulation from the cold weather. So far, we fixed and painted it, but it needs that extra step.

It used to look like this.
Now it looks like this, an improvement.

Large Shed/building

Although we have two small storage sheds on the property, one of them an existing original old log building, those are being used to store garden tools, heat pellets, and other outdoor items. We need a larger building where my husband can work on his wood projects. This will be its future site.

It will be located at the far end, and we will probably build it ourselves, depending on wood pricing – ready made kit vs. building it from scratch.

Pumpkin Area

We need to prepare an area at the back (right side) of the property where we can grow larger things such as corn or pumpkins. We tested an area this year, where we grew pumpkins and cantaloupe, and it seems a good area for that purpose. Although we will not enclose it, we will have to clear some stumps and grass before planting.

Future site of the pumpkin area. Those stumps were trees that we cut down, and will be removed.

The Christmas Tree

Last year, we cleared and cleaned up the area at the entrance of the driveway. It was full of overgrown shrubs and weeds. During the process, my husband discovered a medium size pine tree that he liked, and he decided to leave alone. This tree has been growing healthy and free of weeds and is looking very nice. My husband wants to dress it up in white solar lights that can be left on year round. His obsession with this tree puzzles me, but I am going along with it, and he doesn’t know it yet, but I already ordered the lights. This will probably become the first project on our list.

This tree has become my husband’s pet.

The Rain Garden

As much as the Christmas tree is my husband’s obsession, the rain garden is mine. There is an area at the front of the house, near the veggie garden, where there seems to be a dip or slope on the terrain. When it rains, it seems to retain water. This area would be perfect for a rain garden. However, since it is at the center, I would like it to become a focal point. I am envisioning a water feature (solar, of course) a small bench, a few pavers, one or two spot lights, a few larger stones, and of course the plants. Maybe one or two stone critters as well. This is the future site of the rain garden.

In this picture, you can see the puddle of water; that is the spot for the rain garden.

Side Steps Entrance Concrete Area

Although there is grass on this area, when it rains it becomes very muddy. My husband wants to place pavers or pour concrete to minimize the muddy mess.

The area where we will pour cement or place pavers next to the side entrance steps.

The Arbor

This is a project that I am excited about, however, I am not sure if it is practical because sometimes, we bring material through the area where it would be placed. My husband doesn’t like when someone comes down the driveway, bypasses the parking area, and ends up parking very close to the house. He says that if a vehicle were to disengage the parking gear or someone miss applying the brakes on time, they would land in the living room. I can see his point. The arbor would signal the end of the driveway, and would serve as a pretty stop sign. In the past, (not around here) I have seen this happen to two people. Their cars were not in parked gear. My husband, being a mechanic, has seen this scenario many times, hence his insistence. If the arbor idea were to be implemented, wisteria would be a good choice and it would have to include an area for the name of our place – Black Crow Cottage.

The arbor would be located after the last light post signaling the end of the driveway.

The Woods Trails

I am not sure, but I think this will be the last project to be tackled. It is something that my husband wants to do in the future. He wants to create pathways around the wooded area. He wants the pathway to end where the “Christmas tree” is. He already started the three entrances, and placed a few logs from fallen trees. It will take time and effort, and he knows it, but it is something he envisions and would love to do. I like the idea, although not so much the type of work involved.

One of the three entrances that will connect to a main pathway. Here you can see that this one will lead left or right.
A section of the woods.

These are twelve future projects that I will share here when we are able to complete them, one by one, little by little. We have come a long way from where we started, and there is more to do. I hope you enjoyed this post.

A Garden at Rest

The garden is ready to go to sleep, and it seems that the planting/harvest season went so fast this year. I am very happy with what the garden offered, and this year was better than last year. There were a few green tomatoes left in the vine, and the rest is done. I picked what was left on Saturday. It has been a bit cold, a bit early. Last year we lost tons of green tomatoes due to an early frost. Until next year.

Grape tomatoes were a plenty this year.
Yellow tomatoes did very well too this year.
I grew these potatoes in pots; it worked.
This year I learned that potato pants are gorgeous when they flower and more beautiful when they produce this green fruit (poisonous) that looks like a green grape tomato. The seeds inside can be planted ahead of time to grow the plant, but it takes much longer for a potato plant to produce from seed than if planted from the tuber/eye. Who knew?
The last two pumpkins.
The first two pumpkins.
The largest pumpkin we picked sits in the back. I think is the nicest one. We only got two cantaloupe, which we picked a few days early but turn out delicious. First timers.
The birds were lucky this year. They enjoyed the sunflowers, and I collected tons of seeds for them. I saved a bag for planting next year.
A round patch of a different type of grass seems prominent this year. I like it.
These colorful beauties are still in bloom and the butterflies are loving them. These get many winged visitors.
Finally, a better picture of a cardinal. These were hard to photograph. They don’t stay put for long.
A happy visitor who sometimes makes his rounds around the garden. I think he belongs to a neighbor, as I always see him coming from the direction to her house.
A little bird makes friends with a scarecrow. I was lucky to take this photo.

As the garden gets ready to rest, I will be ready for cleanup and ready up for next year plantings. We have enjoyed many blessings from it, and I could not ask for more. Happy Harvest!

Beauty Within

I have been waiting for this event for so long. The blooming of the first sunflower. I planted these seeds in May,  and could not wait for them to bloom. They were given to me by someone who was caring for my neighbor, and she told me these would grow very tall, and not to plant them near the house. I had the perfect spot for them, next to the circle of flowers. Well, today I woke up, and decided to collect some tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, what now seems to have become a daily endeavor, especially after the heavy rains and storms we have been experiencing. I looked at the circle of flowers to see how it was doing, and was so happy to see the large yellow flower next to it. What a joyful moment. Now, I can’t wait to see the rest.

Garden Blessings.

 

The magnificent first (large) sunflower. It seems that the closer I focused the camera, the more beautiful it became. Isn’t that something? Sometimes the closer you look at something the more lovely it becomes, letting you discover its intricate beauty.

 

Side by side comparison between the large sunflower and the dwarf sunflower. The dwarf sunflowers do not last that long, they dry up fast. They are both gorgeous.

The circle of flowers is doing very well, although the dwarf sunflowers are mostly done by now. Back in April it was just a circle of stones.

IMG_4562

Photo by M.A.D.

It is lovely now.

 

 

 

These mushrooms have been growing all over the place. They are quite interesting. I hope to see a faerie circle at least once in my lifetime – mushrooms growing in a perfect circle. Have not seen one yet, but there is hope. I think mushrooms are so beautiful and interesting.

 

I have been trying to take a close picture of a cardinal for quite some time, and for some reason, I was not fast enough; it flew away or kept moving to another spot. The other day I was able to capture one that stood around long enough. Cardinals are as difficult to photograph as little blue birds; they move too fast and fly away.

 

And who knew that a potato plant was so beautiful? I didn’t.

IMG_5137

Photo by M.A.D.

Not a mushroom, not cheese. The moon a few nights ago.

IMG_5123

Photo by M.A.D.

Love is purpose in itself. It can be found all around you. You just have to look.

IMG_5147

Photo by M.A.D.

Hope that you enjoy this post.

 

 

Garden Offerings

Now that I have shared how the garden has come along, it occurred to me to write about its blessings. Although, I took on a small garden project as a kid, for a short time (kid’s curiosity), and later on in life rekindled that love when I planted my first small flower garden when I lived in Jersey, it is now that I feel I have the time and place to be more creative and enjoy a garden.

Although we have had a very hot and humid summer here in Virginia, I am pleased with how the veggie garden has produced so far. The flower garden did very well during the spring, and by now, it is declining, although there are a few flowers due to bloom now. Despite watering almost everyday, the heat has taken a toll on the plants. The sweet peas, which were doing so well, dried up during the last week. I was lucky enough to harvest some peas on three occasions. The peppers are still growing and thriving; no signs of a pepper yet. I have to say that when planting from seeds, it takes a long time to harvest something, especially peppers. Next year, I might try a small portable greenhouse to start seeds earlier. I tried to do that indoors, but one of my cats had a party with the tiny plants. Tomatoes are doing well, however, compared to last year, I am dealing with tomato rot (I think that is what it is called). It is when tomatoes turn dark underneath, just before they are ready to be picked. I have had to discard some. I read that it is not recommended to eat them because the tomato skin has broken and it might contain bacteria. I don’t think that the seeds will do well for next year. I will start fresh. Cucumbers are doing very well this year, with a couple of them turning yellow before they grow more. Last year, cucumbers didn’t do as well. Lettuce is doing great this year, and I have collected so much, that I gave some away to my neighbor. All four varieties are doing great. Soon, I will be sharing tomatoes and cucumbers because it seems that those are going to produce much this year. The grape tomatoes are doing well too. Compared to last year, carrots are slow. I planted the rainbow baby carrots and also the regular ones. One plant I introduced this year is potato. I picked a few, a plant nearby the carrots. I read that potatoes and carrots should not be planted nearby (who knew?). Bugs are absent this year; last year caterpillars where an issue, and ate most of the lettuce. I was using several organic pesticides, and they did not perform well. This year I have not seen many bugs, and I used Sevin only once, so maybe that has to do with it.

Keeping a garden journal has helped me keep track of things/issues I would have forgotten already. I also use it to plan future areas in the garden. When I started gardening, I was not sure if I wanted to keep one but I tried it anyway.  I have found it very useful, especially when correcting mistakes from the previous year. This year’s entry might read – Please, do not plant potatoes next to carrots; no, don’t do it!

If the hot weather continues, I am not sure how well the harvest will go this year. Here are some pictures of some veggies I have collected so far. Hopefully, there will be more,  despite the heat. Also, pictures of the flower garden offerings.

I noticed that fresh vegetables do not last as long in the refrigerator as supermarket ones; they become soft sooner, especially lettuce. I was keeping lettuce in a glass bowl in the crisper section of the fridge, but decided to keep the plastic trays that are used for fruit when you buy it at the supermarket, and what a difference does it make. It seems that these plastic trays help keep the veggies crisp longer. Save those, and use them if you can; it works better than glass.

IMG_5082

Photo by M.A.D.

I pick the tomatoes as soon as they start getting soft to the touch. They continue the process inside. Stink bugs like tomatoes.

IMG_5113

Photo by M.A.D.

A mix of veggies as they look before cleaning them.

IMG_5115

Photo by M.A.D.

Various types of lettuce. Journal entry from last year – Caterpillars hate fancy lettuce. They prefer the regular variety.

20200606_182723

Photo by M.A.D.

A few blessings from the flower garden. The perfect hand of God.

IMG_5037

Photo by M.A.D.

These are mini sunflowers. They grow maybe about two or three feet tall, and bloom lovely.

IMG_5072

Photo by M.A.D.

Nature’s lace.

IMG_5073

Photo by M.A.D.

Tons of color.

 

The tiny rose bush that could.

20200421_145914-1

Photo by M.A.D.

Two different color irises.

 

The unexpected. Plants found around the property while clearing out weeds and bushes. We transplanted them.

 

The magical. Mushrooms galore and a little bit of luck.

 

The most beautiful blue.

 

The new and sublime.

 

The lost and found.

 

The forgotten. As it was then.

l03d70842-m1xd-w480_h360_q80

Photo by M.A.D.

I hope you enjoy this post.

The Long Lost Garden

I love flowers and all kinds of plants. Maybe because I have strong memories of my grandmother’s garden when I was a kid. The garden was not large, but it seemed huge to a 4 year old. I felt at ease in it, lost in time in it. Eventually, the garden was eliminated and concrete took its place. The magic was gone.

My favorite style of garden is the English garden. It is wild and free, and at the same time contained by itself. I always thought that an English garden had soul. I dislike manicured gardens that are too planned, symmetrical, and rigid. Where’s the life in that? When we purchased this old house, it had been abandoned for 3-4 years, neglected by previous renters, and the owners where out of state, the heirs to a woman who loved her garden. People who grew up in the neighborhood and knew her, tell me about her love for flowers and plants, and how she used to walk through her garden, admiring it. I am told she was a very tall woman, and neighbors were used to seeing her walk regal amongst her plants. Unfortunately, she fell on an icy day, and never quite recovered. Her beloved home became a rental, and no one took care of her garden the way she did. Eventually, the house fell in disrepair and ended up a dilapidated farmhouse waiting to be demolished, either by time or by people. That is, until we found it and resurrected its soul. This post is about its garden, and about uncovering and working with existing areas in an effort to use the not so obvious/the hard to see potential, and saving money in the process.

The house and premises were covered in overgrown vegetation, and the preexisting garden, if any at that point, was gone. There were a few plantings in bad shape. Unable to move right away, we took short trips to start clearing up the overgrown vegetation, and once under control, hired someone to cut the grass regularly so it wouldn’t grow too wild again. The house sat for another five years until we moved, for a total of eight years. As we cleared the morass of bushes and trees, we got an idea of what could be salvaged and what had to be removed. It was a long process that continues until today, mostly because we are doing it ourselves. Three very large trees remain, two dead trees and one very large near the house. It is diseased and requires professional handling as well as the other two. That will be next on the agenda.

Few plants remained of the original garden. An overgrown hydrangea in bad shape, a tiny rose bush buried in weeds, two dwarf boxwoods that we thought were gone for good but made it. A Rose of Sharon bush that we were able to save, a large bush of ornamental grass, and existing pine trees. We were able to free a forsythia that was growing wild under the siding and spread out high over the porch. Remnants of irises and other small plants were found thriving under bushes and all kinds of weeds. We transplanted those to other areas, hoping for the best. They took to their new area beautifully, almost as if grateful for being freed. Little by little we found bits and pieces of what once was a woman’s beloved garden.

When I think about it, it was a lot of work, hard work. Our neighbors cannot believe the transformation. One neighbor told us that he thought the house was eventually going to be torn down or fall on its foundation. Many people have come to see the house, a house they lived in at one point, played in, or visited. They all approve of the respectful changes, and they all agree that the woman who loved her garden so much would approve of it as well. I am glad they feel that way. It means that we are accomplishing what we set out to do. On this post, I will share some before and after pictures.

Entrance to the house then, and entrance today.

 

One of our latest projects was to add marble chips around the house to prevent weeds from growing. This area was covered in weeds and bushes. All the plantings were existing or transplanted from another area when found. The rose bush has grown healthy and has required a trellis.

IMG_5050

Photo by M.A.D.

IMG_5049

Photo by M.A.D.

Here you can see the forsythia that we cut to shape and trimmed. It seems happy now. All the potted plants have been added or transplanted.

These are the same areas before. On first arrival and after clearing some of the vegetation.

 

The foundation to the house is an original rock foundation, which has been supported with cinder blocks over time. We cleared out the weeds, painted, fixed the crawl space doors, and placed marble chips and potted plants around it. We also added solar lights, and rocks that we collected around the property.

This is a before picture, when we cleared out some of the weeds and grass.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

 

This is the same area now. Here you can see the trimmed Hydrangea bush and existing irises. The pine tree in this picture was found as a tiny (2 inches) planting that I thought looked interesting enough, and I potted it. It turned out to be this beautiful pine (cedar) tree. Eventually, we will cover the exposed cinder blocks with cement and repaint the area. On this picture you can see the original stone foundation. One thing we made sure to do before buying the place was to hire an inspector to make sure the foundation and structure were in good shape. Those were fine.

IMG_4996

Photo by M.A.D.

The marble chips were placed all around the house. Here you can see two existing bushes that we were able to save, after trimming them, and also one of the dwarf boxwood trees behind the bird bath. This boxwood was almost dead and it has come back slowly. The lily is also an existing plant. We added all the large stones found around the property. The Hostas and Hen and chicks plants are new, and added to the area. These were brought from my garden in Jersey. All the statues are recycled from my previous home in Jersey, and so is the bird bath.

IMG_5046

Photo by M.A.D.

IMG_5047

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Here you can see the other dwarf boxwood and other recycled plants.

IMG_5045

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Here are some pictures of the same areas before. The dwarf boxwood looks brown and dying.

l03d70842-m0xd-w480_h360_q80

Photo by M.A.D.

 

A before view of the same steps where you can see the boxwood better.

Restoring an Old Farmhouse on a Budget 2

Photo by M.A.D.

 

This is the side entrance area. There were no plantings, only weeds. This area was challenging to work with.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Same area as it is today. New plantings have been added to the area, as well as recycled. All pots in the garden are recycled.

IMG_5052

Photo by M.A.D.

 

We worked with some existing areas by keeping some of the plantings, and adding stones and new or transplanted plants. Here is one of those areas before.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Same area as it is today. The only existing planting was the bush in the center, The rest was transplanted from other areas of the property. This area blooms throughout the year. In early spring the irises bloom first, followed by the lambs ear, and later in the summer other plantings bloom. A solar light and a couple of statues and rocks dogged around the property were added.

IMG_4835

Photo by M.A.D.

 

This area is directly under the giant cedar tree. It is one of the oldest trees around the house, and possibly older than the house, as I am told. We cleared/cleaned the area and added existing plantings around the tree. Red mulch was added as well.

20200329_160734

Photo by M.A.D.

 

 

The giant cedar before. Today, it looks healthier.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Other existing areas that we were able to save. Before, after clearing the area a bit and cutting the grass.

Same area as it is today.

 

I have mentioned the faerie garden on a separate blog post, and it is one area in which we added much to it while working with existing elements. The area before and after.

 

There are a few new areas, and that includes the veggie garden which was not there, and what I call the circle of flowers. Pictures of this area before. Today, the circle of flowers is where the overgrown bushes are, and the veggie garden a few feet right behind.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

 

The veggie garden

 

I created the circle of flowers because I wanted an area full of color, where I could pick some flowers to bring inside. It started with clearing out a circle where old stumps remained, and placing some stones we collected around the property. We planted some seeds, and many of them continue to grow and bloom today. Next to it, we created another circle (still needs the stones around) where we planted sunflowers. They have not bloom yet, but soon they will. As of today, they are a lot taller.

 

This concludes the outdoor changes so far,  although there are many other plans. We created areas around the home, and separate, individual new areas. Instead of tearing everything down, we worked with existing areas that had potential, by first uncovering them, salvaging some plants, and adding to these areas.

Little me in my grandmother’s garden. Hope you enjoyed this post.

me2

Photo by M.A.D.

No More Skeletons in the Faerie Garden

Continuing with the old farmhouse posts, I will do another before and after of the garden area. It had been a lot of hard work to start getting this old place into shape, and this year, it is starting to look a bit better. It has been almost five years since we moved here. For those of you who are wondering what happened to the older posts, I had an out of body experience and one day woke up wanting to make this blog only about writing. Without a second thought, I deleted all those posts and the memories with them. Later, the alien inside my brain crawled out and I realized that this approach was not working for me, and I missed the old ways. I am more a glimpse on all sides person, so I decided to bring back those glimpses on this blog. I don’t think I can get back the deleted posts, so I am moving forward with some before and after posts. Hope you enjoy these.

The faerie garden was an area that was covered in bushes and weeds. It had a large carcass of a dog or coyote (I could not tell the difference) resting on a small piece of concrete. After clearing out the brush in the area, we discovered that the small concrete area was under grass that had taken over and continue to grow atop, alongside some moss. We scraped the area and uncovered a generous size concrete circle where we decided to place some patio furniture, a grill, and create a small faerie garden, which has always been a little dream of mine. The area has a large amount of kelly green moss growing and expanding, and I have always been a fan of moss, so it happily worked out. Every year, I add something to the area, whether plantings or any decorative feature. We tried to work with was already there, and it works for us. Here are some pictures of the faerie garden area before.

023

Photo by M.A.D.

This is the area as it looked before, although we had cleared out a bit at that point, the skeleton gone. There was an electricity pole that one day just disappeared. It was puzzling; how does a gigantic pole disappears? When we inquired, it happened that when the previous owner closed her account after selling the property, the electric company came and took the pole out of the ground. I found it hilarious. Here are two different views, one of them uncovering the concrete circle.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

Here are a few pictures of the area as it is today. I am sure that we will add to it over the years, more on the form of plantings, garden lights and stones. The flowers in that area will bloom around late spring/June. It is mostly a shaded area so I am happy that something blooms.

IMG_4701

Photo by M.A.D.

IMG_4636

Photo by M.A.D.

A closer look of the critters and mossy area.

IMG_4660

Photo by M.A.D.

Viewed from another angle. Al the stones, wood, and cinder blocks were found on the property, either around or in the woods behind. We dogged out many stones. The goal was to utilize what was already there, and find a way to create areas with purpose. When we start a project, we set a very low budget, and we consider existing/found/recycled/reused/restored/vintage first before spending on new. This approach has worked out for us.

20190714_184243

Photo by M.A.D.

67349-1

We added solar lighting to the area by  utilizing recycled wood, and painting it. All the outdoor lighting is solar. The area continues to emerge over the years.

I hope you enjoyed this post of the faerie garden. I will post more before and after pictures of other outdoor areas/projects in the future, as well of the farmhouse work.

 

 

 

 

 

Writer’s Wisdom 73

About Private Level Rights packages

Mostly known as PLR packages or bundling, these are articles on a theme that are sold together, such as ten articles about gardening.  Due to the fast request and search engine hunger for content, these packages have become popular.  Many freelance writers will bundle a few articles and sell them as a package.  PLR packages can be packs of 10 -20-25 articles. 

Packaging your articles will allow you to sell them faster to interested buyers and also to play with the price, as it is easier to price a package than sell one article.  You may or may not discount the price, it is up to you.  If you feel that your single articles are not selling fast enough, maybe you should try bundling them instead.  This can also be applied to any other artistic material you may have such as photography or e-books.  Test the waters and see what best works for you as a freelancer.