Posted: September 28th, 2013 | Author: eliza | Filed under: barns, history, life, yard | No Comments »
The old dairy barn finally seems to be coming down. It was on the way out when we bought the place in 2009 but it’s hung on surprisingly long, through a few hurricanes and a lot of wet heavy March snowstorms. Every time we get a big storm, we can’t wait to go check out the barn and see what’s fallen down. We’ve talked about having it demolished but we keep hoping Mother Nature will do the job for free. It’s a kind of picturesque wreck and I hold it no grudge (in 2011 we got married in the backyard with the collapsed dairy barn as backdrop), but it was always wayyyy too far gone to think about saving it. (Also we don’t have any cows or anything, though a big old barn in better condition could’ve been a great venue for movie screenings, barn dances, yoga classes…)
Based on old photos and some historical society documentation, we think the original barn burned in the 1930′s so this barn was probably the replacement for the old barn lost to fire. It was a dairy barn; the Brunk farm sold milk to the Locust Farm Dairy that used to be in Limington.
evidence of the Locust Farm Dairy
A few years back, we found some neat cattle tags(?) buried in the yard next to the barn while doing some yard work.
Typical 20th century construction, the barn was huge but nowhere near as sturdily built as the older ell and house. Leaky roof and time and no maintenance is presumably what did it in. By the time the Brunk family sold the property by the early 1980′s, the farmers would’ve been aging and dairy farming in Maine was becoming increasingly unprofitable, so (like so many rural Maine dairy operations) it’s no surprise that they didn’t put too many resources into maintaining a dairy barn with a leaky roof. Since the 80′s it seems like the barn’s been mostly ignored and used for dumping junk. Day by day it’s sinking and slumping. We go out and check after every big storm and often we’re surprised that nothing has budged, despite howling winds and whipping rain and wet heavy snow, even when the yard is littered with tree limbs and debris, the barn holds up. But this week’s been peaceful and sunny and beautiful, and we just noticed that it’s gone down dramatically while we weren’t paying attention.
I wish we’d managed to set up a proper time lapse record of the changes, but we’re not so organized.
this is the barn when we first arrived in March 2010.
left: found photo of the barn (1960′s?). right: inside the barn, 2010.
front of barn. 2010
And here’s the back.
August 2011 (before Hurricane Irene)
August 2011, after hurricane Irene
Posted: October 7th, 2012 | Author: eliza | Filed under: life, nature, yard | No Comments »
fall colors in the meadow behind our house
Posted: June 6th, 2011 | Author: eliza | Filed under: life, slow progress, yard | No Comments »
We resolved to make some major improvements to the yard this summer and pitted ourselves against the mounds of half-buried garbage and rubble and relentlessly energetic grass and weeds. It’s been an fairly grueling, time consuming, buggy, sweaty, muggy, muddy crusade but with some great help from friends, neighbors and family, it feels like we are making progress. Hopefully our back yard will one day be fully transformed from an overgrown dump to a beautiful space to hang out and enjoy the view.
We spent the first half of the spring and summer pretty thoroughly occupied with trying to conquer the wild, bramble-covered and weed-choked land out back. We have two acres, and what ground isn’t occupied with the dilapidated barn has been covered with an impenetrable jungle of thistles, burrs, vines and weeds that grows to shoulder-high in full summer and is completely wild and impassable without a machete. So this year we’re trying to clear out as much land as we can and mow down the weeds before they get too big to tackle, and seed some nice soft grass, hoping to be able to enjoy more of our land during the summer. We started with hauling away lots of garbage that was left around the land by the previous owners. There were the shredded remains of several huge (inflatable) plastic swimming pools, a handful of mangled kids’ bicycles, plastic kids toys and trucks, pool floaties, lots of pepsi cans and milk jugs and just general garbage strewn about and hidden in the weeds, making for a lot of surprises when we’d accidentally mow over bike parts or soda bottles hidden in the knotted grass. We found a nest of at least 30 garter snakes living in one of the crumpled swimming pools! Imagine Mike’s surprise when he gathered up a heap of soggy plastic in his arms to drag it away, and found it squirming with dozens of startled snakes!
There were tons of tiny babies, and lots of huge adult snakes too. We felt a little bad displacing them, but the heaps of crumpled plastic garbage had to go.
Rainy May weather made the grass go crazy and we found that even if we spent every waking hour mowing, it was still growing faster than we could cut it. I suppose this is a common springtime homeowners lament. We decided we need to sow the whole thing with wildflowers or something. Anything that doesn’t need to be mown. We were super excited to get a new mower, which at least made the fight a bit fairer! Mike wishes we could get a riding mower, but I think we can use the extra exercise. Could do without the blackflies though.
Sometime around June, our amazing neighbors Mike and Fausto took pity on us and offered to help out. Fausto brought over his brush hog and weed whacker, and Mike brought his giant tractor, and they made SO much progress, transforming seas of brambly mounds to tidy fields and stone walls.
Mike and his tractor!
Fausto and Mike at work in the back yard
Man. Good neighbors are the best. What a difference it has made!
Posted: June 2nd, 2011 | Author: eliza | Filed under: life, yard | No Comments »
this afternoon a dozen cows wandered into our yard to nibble our lilacs! the dog was super terrified and ran inside to hide. she’s not much of a guard dog! the ladies ambled around our yard nibbling stuff for a few minutes while we called the neighbors’ farm to report the visitors. Farmer was already out chasing them, and they were herded back home within a few minutes, so it was only a quick visit.
Posted: April 17th, 2011 | Author: eliza | Filed under: life, slow progress, yard | No Comments »
Now that the snow’s melted, the yard is looking ghastly. Mud, dead grass, all that crap and garbage we forgot about when the snow hid it in the fall. There was just a lot of flotsam and jetsam scattering the yard when we moved in last year – dozens of big plastic toys, two deflated swimming pools, all kinds of old tires, metal roofing pieces blown off from the deteriorating barn, etc. We started hauling away some of it last year, but there’s still a lot left. Anyway, we decided this summer’s going to be the summer of cleaning up the yard! Last week we made a few good trips to the dump…
headed for the dump
Definitely still need to haul a few more big truckloads off to the dump. Also next week we’re planning to rent a brush hog mower to tackle the explosion of brambles and wild jungle in the back forty (last summer we tried to tackle it with a big-time mower and had to give up as we nearly broke the machine!) and hopefully our little wilderness of thistles and burrs will become a nice soft barefoot-friendly lawn. We’ll see how that goes – although we might not be able to improve the exterior of the house just yet, I hope we can make some progress on cleaning up the land.
We also took the first warm afternoon to work on our underground dog fence, which got messed up by the snowplow near the end of winter. The dog fence is such a blessing when it works, but it’s been a hassle to maintain – hopefully we dug it deep enough this time that it won’t need to be fixed again for a long time.
digging up the driveway to replace a section of the underground dog fence