When Darrell and I got in the car to come and look at this old farmhouse, we never really expected to buy it. We had seen an ad in our local Penny Saver that read, “Charming 1880s farmhouse for sale by owner.” Being a lover of historic homes, I’d said, “What could it hurt to look?”
I should’ve known better.
I’m not sure Darrell saw anything past the apple, pear, and sour cherry trees in the yard. Like the rest of this old homestead, they were unpruned and unkept. They had a certain nostalgic charm that left us dreaming of a simpler life. Inside the house, it was my turn. Despite the crooked floor boards, I couldn’t see past the beautiful wood moulding around the library windows.
Darrell and I were just beginning to build a new life together Both of us were still on the mend from divorces…something I suppose we always will be. I’d recently sent my son off to college and my daughter would start her senior year of high school that Fall. I’d almost made it through their teen years and could see the horizon.
Darrell was muddling along, too, having sold his medical practice to pursue other dreams. You may have already read his story in my post Revamping Recipes, Revamping Life. Nothing in our lives was level or square. Why should the house we were going to live in be any different?
We put in our offer the next day.
We weren’t far into the renovation when it occurred to us that we may have gotten in over our heads! We began enlisting the help of every friend or family member that was willing and/or just able!
“Make sure the kitchen is finished before you move in,” my friend, Heidi, warned early on. It was good advice.
While Darrell had no trouble living amidst the dust and chaos, it took a little over a year before I finally packed up my townhouse and moved in.
I’ve never looked back. There’s been a lot of gifts in deconstructing and reconstructing both our lives and our home. We’ve discovered a lot along the way. Not the least of which was the collection of junk in the barn.
The people who lived here before us, left the barn full! Each time we slid open the doors, it was an endless treasure hunt which turned up antique dishes, old tools, a farm cart, and even an amazing stainless steel tomato crusher from Italy that was still new in the box! We’ve used it every canning season since!
Things weren’t just popping up in the barn though, new things were popping up in the yard, too. As we meandered the property we discovered a black raspberry patch, wild red currants, and a rhubarb patch that had long been forgotten. Weeds must have been trying to crowd it out for years but there it was, still struggling to come up.
Once again, Heidi gave us great advice from her many years of garden experience. Who knew you had to periodically split out the rhubarb plants to allow for new growth? We did as she instructed and planted it in an old compost pile. It went wild and so did we.
From the abundance we made (and devoured) rhubarb pies, tortes, and pint after pint of raspberry-rhubarb sauce. We put it on everything from waffles to biscuits and when there was nothing left to top, we simply ate it directly from the jar by the spoonful.
When Darrell’s mom passed on her rhubarb cake recipe, it became an instant favorite. Now, each May when rhubarb first starts making an appearance, Darrell averages one (or two) cakes a week! (It’s a good thing bike season starts at the same time, right?)
We may not have intended to buy this old farmette when we got in the car to just have a peek at it, but I think this farmette had other plans.
We’ve learned that you never really own an old farmette. Instead, you enter into a relationship of give and take with it. We’ve learned how to take care of it by shoring up the porch floor, replacing a few windows, and chasing honey bees out of the eaves. Still, in many ways, this farmette is taking care of us, too.
We are grateful every day to those who built this house and tended this land leaving behind all sorts of unexpected gifts and things to wonder about.
It all inspires us to do our part so that there will be something wonderful for those who come to live here long after we’re gone.
May they be blessed here as we have been.
I’ll be posting the rhubarb cake recipe and pictures as soon as Darrell takes one out of the oven again! You’ll love this rustic-old-fashioned-no-too-sweet treat! It’s perfect with a cup of coffee and a little porch sitting!
If you’d like to discover a treasure of your own from the past, consider attending one of the Hosmer Tavern Dinners right here at the Genesee Country Museum! Darrell and I will be heading there with bells on again this Friday!! You can check out last year’s event on my post Welcome to the Hosmer Tavern!
Hope to see you around the bread bowl soon! In the meantime feel free to comment in about unexpected treasure in your life!
BONUS!! Pictures from our April Sicilian Stuffed Breads Class!