Friday, September 23, 2011

Freehold Update

It appears that the last stumbling block on our journey to purchase our new Freehold has been passed. Hooray! The house that we found in April, the house highly recommended by our realtor for a number of reasons, is probably going to officially be ours on Friday of next week. It's about time! I'm glad we managed to get this done by now, although I admit I wish very much that we'd gotten in with time to allow for a fall garden. Still, at least I have time now to prepare spots for the spring garden, and that's something!

The new house is sort of grey and blue, fairly pretty, and L-O-N-G. It started out as a small, two bedroom house back in the 40s, with a detached garage. Sometime in the 70s or so, the garage was attached to the main house via a breezeway of sorts which is insulated and also has 3 small bedrooms above it (the peaked windows you see in the picture there). The garage has a cement floor (it needs some work but is certainly usable immediately) and some insulation. There's a hallway between the garage and the house, providing a buffer space for those wanting to go out. Think of it as a sort of airlock.

The body of the house has office space, a living room, a "parlor" (or at least that's what we're calling it), a dining room, the two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a beautiful screened in porch. In the pictures, you can see that the grass is a bit overgrown, and that the bushes are sadly in need of trimming, but really it's not all that bad. The previous owners obviously loved it, and the upstairs bedrooms are all done in pine and cedar with built in dresser drawers, desks, and book shelves. It smells heavenly. We especially like the screened porch, because it will be a wonderful place for us to have friends over for dinner (the porch is actually larger than the dining room LOL). We will be able to eat without bugs, still be in the fresh air, and the kids can play and be loud in the yard without bothering us.

There isn't much of a backyard; it's basically a strip of land behind the house about 2 yards wide. It was previously (badly) fenced in for a dog, it appears, but we'll be taking down the fencing immediately. The front yard, on the other hand, is gorgeous. All the pictures you see are taken from the driveway, which is long and semi-circular, providing a perfect place for children to ride bicycles, run races, or do chalk drawings. Beyond the driveway there's another equally beautiful strip of grass and flower garden before you come to a strip of mature maple and fir trees, hiding us somewhat from the (very not busy) road beyond. Despite being "in town" instead of rural, this house has the feel of being very private, very separate. Behind the house is a 25 acre tract of land that has nothing on it but trees. We'll be checking with the owners, but it appears that local kids play there unhindered. There are enough maples on our property to allow me to make a good year's supply of maple syrup come spring thaw.

Because I no longer have a tractor with tiller, a full acre to play with, or the other people to work with me, I'll be creating a different type of garden on our Freehold. We'll still have our chickens (the one neighbor close enough to be bothered by them used to own her own chickens years ago and loves the idea of being able to see them), although I have to get new babies come spring. It'll be a full year before  I get to have fresh eggs again. Still, it gives us time to get a pretty little hen house put together.

A lot of my garden ideas are coming from an internet friend, the Thrifty Mama of Adventures of a Thrifty Mama on a Trailer Park Homestead. Instead of growing OUT I'll be growing UP. I'll be using raised beds, hopefully (and slowly, as these are expensive) using galvanized water troughs. The basic idea is that in using these, you water from the bottom rather than the top. This means there's much less evaporation, no worry about burning your precious plant leaves, and apparently much less in the weed department, too. You don't have to stoop to weed or pick, and it's more difficult (though never impossible LOL) for ground critters like squirrels or slugs to get into your veggies. Our whole family loves the look of these, and you can paint them any color. We'll be trying to buy one or two a year, and set them up. Until we get enough, I'll use traditional wood-bound raised beds and a modified "square foot garden" technique for close planting.

Because we have the long driveway, we're also going to be putting in several fruit trees along it. These will provide us with fruit, and also with shade and privacy. There's already one mature apple tree, although I need to do some rather severe trimming on it before spring comes. It's overgrown and a few of the suckers have become major branches that aren't really bearing well. The sad part is that the one branch that is providing LOTS of apples is going to have to come down because it's way too tall. We might not get many apples next year because of the severity of the pruning, but the tree will be much healthier for our love and care. We snagged one of the low hanging fruit for a taste test the other day (the apples are just coming ripe now) and the flavor is indescribable. It's tart and yet sweet, a yellow apple that I believe is a yellow delicious variety. Even the small ones on the tree this year can be used for making applesauce and pies, and I'm already thinking about Thanksgiving dinner with a fresh home baked apple pie on the table. YUM!