9.22.2009

"The Farm"


As requested, here is a picture of The Farm. We love this farm and farmhouse. Originally built in 1855 it's historically significant in our area and even on a bus tour for the region. The road it's on is one of the oldest roads in Ontario. It stretches from The Grand River all the way to Lake Huron. It was a main stage coach route with a stage coach depot about a mile up the road.


The area was original known as New Aberdeen but as happened to many towns as politics and settling happened it became a ghost town for many years, mostly abandoned. Years later is was re-settled by a German population and came to be known as Berlin. In 1916 during the World War it was renamed as Kitchener. It's surrounded by black walnut trees and very old evergreens. The settlers at the time it was build looked for land with black walnut trees on it as it was an indication of fertile soil excellent for farming and grazing livestock. A local university student wrote his thesis on the century homes on our road several years ago and supplied us with a wealth of history about this house. The photo above is the side view of the house.

Original working shutters lasted over 150 years, today's technology has not. Replacement aluminum shutters have quickly torn from the windows after just a few storms. I still have the original shutters and we've got them stash and coveted away until we get our own farmhouse one day. My dad didn't want "those old things" on the house anymore. Shame, that. Anyway, we have them and I wouldn't part with those historic shutters for anything.

The stone walls are up to 28" thick. They're awe inspiring. The main house is 2 stories. There are multiple chimneys for fireplaces and stoves. Many have been closed up. We discovered access to a chimney where the original kitchen was during renovations. We discovered a lot of surprises during renovations that previous owners had closed up... The interior walls are horizontal strip board with the original horsehair plasterwork. Protected under the plush carpets my parents fancy in the main house on both floors are the original floor boards. The main support of the house in the basement, which has been excavated to full height, is a very old tree as the post with it's bark stripped off.

The glass window sliders and centre peak area in the photos is now a solarium where the original court yard was. The single story stone portion between the solarium and garage was the regions ice house. Various owners over the years added their own renovations to the home and at some point the two stone buildings were built together. There are additions off the back of the house as well. Directly behind the original ice house is now the summer kitchen which was the wood shed before it became the summer cooking kitchen. After refrigeration was available and the ice house was no longer an area necessity it became a common room that opens to the solarium. The solarium transformed from court yard to a screened porch and now the sun room it is with high vaulted ceilings. The stories about this house and it's previous owners are mostly unknown, but the ones that are really are charming.


Previous to my parents buying the farm it stood vacant for 3 years, not considering the racoons, mice and rats, and numberous birds and squirrels that managed to gain access to the house via the odd hole and unscreened chimneys. There was a huge bank barn across the island (middle round grass area in the driveway where the pit is for fires and we have a couple of picnic tables, blocked from view by my suv) that was bigger and longer than the farmhouse. It filled the grass area to back side of this picture and then some. It was one of the largest historic barns in southern Ontario. Over the years it had seen many uses from livestock, hay and a riding school to storage and then dismantled for it's materials. The people my parents bought the farm from sold the barn to the Mennonite Community the summer before my parents purchase it. The Mennonites came by horse and wagon and dismantled the barn taking all they could from the materials. The only remaining wood was the center roof beam. It was old and petrified like hardened steel. They had tried to cut it up and couldn't so they left it behind. We spend a long, long time drilling it as best we could and burning it. It was too long and heavy to move or deal with. Chain saws didn't touch it.

The land surrounding the farm itself has fallen way to city development. Hundreds of acres surrounding my parents farm when they first moved there was leased grazing land for cattle and corn fields. I had plenty of adventures helping out the local police when the cattle would escape and their owner couldn't be found. They'd head for the road or into neighbours hay fields. We had the only horses around for a ways and the authorities always knocked on our door when they were loose assuming that the cattle were ours and asking if I could saddle up and help bring back the AWOL cows. As long as it wasn't the bull I was happy to help.

I was a teenager at the time and my horse was born and bred at the Saddle and Surrey Ranch in Aubrey, Texas. He was bred with the cutting gene rooted down deep. I have more than a few tales where well meaning city officers believed they could move cattle with their car and siren. I warned them otherwise, more than one hit the siren when they thought they had the cow penned between a fence and the cruiser and could move it in the direction they wanted to. It was darned funny (for me - Not Them!) to see a cow go straight over the hood of their cruiser, leaving a crumpled hood behind in it's wake. Yeah well, I warned them not to hit the siren, but did they listen? One officer looked at me sheepish and said, "Uh, you were right, but I'm not writing that part in my report."... and then woefully looked back at the cow mashed cruiser hood.
Wonder, my quarter horse, loved to cut and chase calves and cows. He had to be turned out well separated from the steers and sheep dad raised for meat because he would've run them around the pasture for hours on end. He came with his name by the way, Certain Wonder. I'll have to tell you about him some time.
My best to you all,
Renee

11 comments:

barefootrooster said...

thanks for sharing this history and some of your memories of the farm. beautiful.

CelticCastOn said...

sooo neat i'm loving all these stories Renee!!

kim said...

It sounds like a beautiful place to retreat to. Thanks for sharing.

Doortje said...

My parents live in an old house and try to resore it to its old self, and I just love the stories and little treasures you can find inside walls and underneath floors.
But then again I am a sucker for history.
Love the farmhouse, so different from the old European houses I grew up in. Sadly they tore down my grandma's old farm were we kids had the best time ever.

At Home Mommy Knits said...

Thanks for sharing all those pictures and stories. I can see now why you love it so much.

Celestial said...

What a great story about the cop cars. That will keep me giggling for a while.

It's interesting how a lot of people don't see value in keeping a home the way it originally was for a while after the home is built. During those times they just altered the house into what they needed. Now we're so focused on preserving the old historical sites. It makes me wonder how many of those people are as careful with their own homes and belongings.

Thanks for sharing =)

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

That is so interesting Renee. I loved learning more about your family home and the area where you live.

Did the cow climb over the police car? I'm amazed it could climb up onto the hood.

Ally Johnston said...

Such a happy place for you. It looks very peaceful.

peaknits said...

What a beautiful farm - and a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it!

Journeying Five said...

it looks like a wonderful place to live!

Nicole said...

Thank you for sharing that with us, your farm sounds wonderful....I love old houses, the charm and character really make them unique!

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