When we first took a hammer and pry bar to the farmhouse on December 31st of last year, we never, ever thought that 10 months later we would still be struggling to get the house livable. We never stopped to think we’d be paying two mortgages all this time, or that we’d log on those miles on our cars and put all those dollars into the gas tank driving back and forth everyday to take care of the animals and eek out the hour here and there of actual renovation.
Why is this taking so darn long? Looking back now over these past 10 months, I can tell you what we did wrong. Our biggest mistake, if you will.
We tried to do too much.
If the house had been our only focus, we’d be living there by now. If we’d ignored the barn, left the fencing, lived with the trash and foregone the garden, we’d have the walls done and the hot water running and a kitchen and a bath…and maybe we’d have the starlings kicked out of the upstairs rooms by now.
But we didn’t. We didn’t realize the total neglect the house had suffered for decades that lead to us having to practically rebuild it. When we started, we thought we’d be living in the house last March. Three months of two mortgages? No problem! Coming up on a year of? Major problem!!
When we realized it wouldn’t be March, we thought June. When we realized it wouldn’t be June, we thought September…then by Thanksgiving. Last night I was praying we’d be there before next Easter! (Insert very, very sad face here.)
Everything just takes so long…and we are still finding rot. My poor husband, each time he pulls back another layer, he confronts another problem he must figure out and fix. As for me, I am faced with the amount of work it takes to save the little bits of the house we are trying to save, painstakingly scraping off little bits of paper, painstakingly pulling out hundreds of nails, painstakingly sanding and caulking and priming…then finally, painting.
Even the sheetrocking takes so long because—in addition to mudding and taping being an artform—you can’t finish a room because you have to wait for something else to get done first. (And I really, really suck on sheetrocking which doesn’t help! I usually end up crying when I have to hang sheetrock. I’m not kidding.)
You know that term “domino effect”? Sometimes I think we are living in Domino Effect Hell.
So all these hours spent on cleanup, livestock, barn work, fence repair and trying to put in a garden and greenhouse and compost bin…maybe we should have skipped all of that. Well, all but the barn work and fence repair. Those had to be done for hay storage and horse safety. And the chicken coop had to be built. No way were we risking another coyote attack on our egg supply!
But still, I have this sense that we weren’t focused enough on the house, that our dreams of starting a farm and all the different pieces of that kept us from seeing the realities of how long the farmhouse renovation would take.
Now it is November. We are looking into renting an RV or trailer to live in so we can live on site and lower our bills by getting down to one mortgage.
Now we will focus. The weather will make it so. Now I get it: Starting a farm means first having a farmhouse. Period.