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January 4, 1913

January 4, 2010

Living in an old house poses challenges.  I have friends who have bought old homes and barreled right in and updated, and brought many changes to their “new” homes.  In a way I am jealous, they have storage, they tore out walls, and they have settled right in.  Our house, built by my grandfather has always had a someone who quashed any progress.  This time it has been me stopping Hangdog.  Before that it was my dad stopping my mom, and before that it was my widowed grandmother stopping her first-born son, my dad.  The board in front of the sink is worn like an old stanchion – its silky smooth feel is comforting to me, to Hangdog it is a board, or actually a stumbling block.  But gradually, I am getting over the feeling that I am destroying something by making my own changes.  This weekend I tore down a wall figuratively and literally, I pulled square nails that my grandfather had hammered in place in 1881.

We need to re-wire and weatherize the whole house, but living in the house while working on it is a major pain.  The first order of business was putting in a new service so the work could be done independently of the old system.  And since we wanted to do this once, we plan, plan, plan.  Preliminary work this summer involved putting in the underground conduit and pulling wires to the shop and the house.  Now the inside stuff begins.  I am not doing the wiring, I have the job of deciding what stays and goes.  Trust me 100+ years in one place means lots of stuff.  Add in that hubby and I are collectors.  So since before Christmas I have been going through things that need to go.  All the chairs I bought to re-cane have found new homes.  I know I will most likely never cane a chair again, and if I need to make repairs I can.  It feels good to purge, but just once in a while it is fun to stop and peruse some of the ephemera that has in fact survived by chance.

the tender young teamster

My camera's grandfather?

As small as your note book and tells the story better.  I agree, I think my pictures sometimes convey what I want to say much better than I can set down to paper.

Nice house!

This very seeder is hanging in our basement, and I have used it many times.

Marketing hasn’t changed much.

You would never see me in a dress, especially at milking time.

What can I say, I’m a barb wire kind of gal.

When I see the moon, I feel a connection with the farmers that have walked here before me.  The routines have remained the same, the tools have changed a little, but not really so much.  Trailing into the canyon to check the spring, milking a cow by hand, or splitting wood for the cookstove while waiting for the Chinook wind to warm us up probably is exactly the same, and from the looks of the 1913 weekly Farm and Fireside, the more things change – the more they stay the same.

32 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2010 4:21 am

    That is soo cool. It must be nice to be able to live in a family home with lots of memories and roots! Very cool.

  2. January 5, 2010 5:22 am

    I’ve know many move into older homes and start a renov. right away and then regret it. We always like to be in a home for a few years to get the “feel”…lookin back on the proposed notes from when we first moved in to when we actually made changes is suprising…entirelydifferent! I think your grandfather would love the changes/updates your making. Honoring a home is the best gift to history you an give! Each generation leaves handprint/heartprint for the next.

  3. AKA Angrywhiteman permalink
    January 5, 2010 5:24 am


    Eccl 1:9

    9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun

  4. January 5, 2010 5:28 am

    I’ve longed for permanence my whole life. The second longest time we’ve lived anywhere is three years: and that’s here where I’m ever so much less than thrilled. The first longest was 10 years, where we went from a newlywed couple to a family of 7 in a two bedroom 900-sq ft. apartment (and the oldest boy had his own room!) There were a few years in Oregon during which we moved every six months. Ah, the trials of renting.

    I grew up that way. When Daddy’d come home with a transfer, Mom would say, “That’s okay, the baseboards were getting dusty anyway,” and off we’d go. Living in an inherited home and finding treasures like you found, that’s kind of a dream for me – like a farm.

    I did live in a historical home in Sisters, OR once. It was OLD. It was the first one-room schoolhouse, then a church, then a boardinghouse. Little by little it was added onto. I loved that old house, drafty doors, creaky floors, smoky fireplace and all. It had history that it lent to me since I have none.

    • January 7, 2010 9:35 pm

      Peggy, I love your last line about the house lending you the history. I feel that way too, like I am just here for a while – just part of the process. Sometimes though I feel like I have been here before in an earlier time. Maybe I just slipped through that fabric of time… .

  5. January 5, 2010 5:31 am

    Great pics of the moon and now non-existent wall 🙂

    • January 7, 2010 9:37 pm

      Allison, that wall has already found another life. And I wish I could see that moon, freezing rain is in the forecast, so no moon for awhile. 🙂

  6. January 5, 2010 6:17 am

    Lovely pages!

    When I was a much more adventurous gal, I remodeled a tiny room in my great-great grandfather’s barn to live in one winter. It was the second barn on the spot, the first, a big six-mule setup, having been robbed of its mules and then burned by Sherman’s men.

    I installed a tiny wood cookstove and a bed and chair and it was really snug.

    One morning about 3 a.m. someone knocked. I called, “who’s there” but no one answered. Ten minutes later, another knock, very loud and urgent. Gathering my courage (and a lid lifter for defense) I threw open the door.

    Nothing but acres of frosted pasture in the full moonlight.

    Days later I discovered the cause was a rooster in the chicken shed down at the other end of the building, who flapped five times whenever he was about to crow. The roost was banging against the rafters. Being very deaf, I wasn’t hearing the crowing.

    Good luck with the project! We are doing similar things here; the house was owner built in 1949 and not well maintained. Yours sounds much more interesting!

    • January 7, 2010 9:38 pm

      Risa, what a great tale of the wings flapping. Your “apartment” sounds very cozy indeed 🙂

      And what is life without projects? Boring!

  7. Lucy permalink
    January 5, 2010 7:52 am

    Remodelling, ugh! Remodelling while living in it, double ugh!

    Is that a Sears house? There is a very similar house near me that is a Sears house. It’s still in good shape and lived in. Imagine ordering a house from a catalog!

    • January 7, 2010 9:40 pm

      Lucy, there is a Sears house near here too, about that same vintage. I would like to buy one right now at that price – just thinking of the quality of the lumber makes me drool!

  8. claudia w permalink
    January 5, 2010 7:56 am

    Your home always sounds so wonderful to me. Unfortunately, I have never been in an old farmhouse, although it is a dream of mine. It’s great that you have been able to keep it as close to original as you have, but things do have to change sometimes and it is okay. I think changing the wiring is a good safe thing to do!
    I like the treasures you found…so much fun!

    • January 7, 2010 9:43 pm

      Claudia, yes we need to move into a different century, and have just one set of wiring. We have already done the plumbing. Luckily my uncle was an electrician and had updated the wiring about 50 years ago, but what was adequate at that time isn’t any longer… .

      I have been having fun looking through this stuff. Lots of good farm tips that are just as timely now.

  9. January 5, 2010 9:00 am

    Things have sure changed since then……..especially the prices 😉

  10. January 5, 2010 9:58 am

    Good for you! Winter is the time of ‘working in (on) the house’. I laugh because Terry and I have a hard time getting rid of stuff. So with the new barn…I’ll bet we will fill it up. My mother-in-law always wants us to ‘clean things up’. I don’t see they are so bad. Terry said it will be the kid’s problem, for now it suits us.


  11. January 5, 2010 9:58 am

    Wow! 1818. Must feel like a pilgrimage to the soul to be able to touch something your forefathers had done. I have a saucer from a tea set that my grand mom used. She died before I was born. I feel a connection to her when I see it. That’s amazing that you are able to live a life with memories all around.

    • January 7, 2010 9:49 pm

      Weekendfarmer, I wish it was 1818, but this part of the country is pretty new, Lewis and Clark had barely been here then. And Jefferson thought it would take 200 hundred years before this part of the country was settled! Ugh if he could see it now. All my grandparents died before I was born too – it is nice having the connections 🙂

  12. January 5, 2010 1:52 pm

    I don’t know how much purging you are doing but think twice about ditching those old magazines!! I could totally understand keeping them for sentimental reasons, but if you want to get rid of them you could possibly make enough money to pay for the renovations. Of course, depending on how many you have. The old magazine itself may be worth something to a particular collector. But removing the cover and mounting it in a frame would make it a beautiful art piece. Then there are people who collect certain items, like antique farm stuff or kitchen equipment who would love vintage ads of the things they love. My brother (a professional photographer) collects antique cameras, and I could see a framed montage of vintage camera ads really complimenting his collection.

    Anyway, just a suggestion.

    I love your images and the mood your post reflects. Beautiful. Farmer lady you have the soul of a poet. ;D

    I’d love to see other treasures you uncover. A couple of years ago I vacationed at my uncles multigenerational farm in Washington. His barn was to die for. Ancient with these huge boards showing the wear of time. In the old hayloft were treasures from the past I yearned to explore but didn’t get the chance. I saw an old washing machine and an old sewing machine that would make an antique dealer pant. They are selling the farm as they retire and the next generation has no interest, such a sad thing.

    And as much as I know you love your old house, I’m sure the modern wiring will be a blessing. Both for convenience and for safety’s sake. It is one thing to use old equipment that still has life in it, it is totally different refusing to modernize something that could be a danger to your family because its age makes it unsafe.

    Thanks for your blog…

    • January 7, 2010 9:58 pm

      Serendippity, I will probably end up keeping the magazines. I am trying to keep a detailed history of the farm and the day to day life here. I had looked at most of these things before, but it is nice to revisit them, as I am moving them out of the way. The most interesting are the receipts for farm purchases over the years. We are still patronizing the some of the same stores and buying the same things. However the prices have changed considerably. And I have been reading letters of my mom’s from her best friend. Yikes!! Blogging on paper!

      As for the wiring, yes it will be a relief to finally get all one system. My uncle (an electrician) had done some updating in the late 50’s, but that needs to go. The plumbing is already done, clear from the spring, so it does feel like we have made some progress, although the electricity will be a biggie!

      Too bad about the uncles place – at least some collector will probably love buying some of the stuff. I know about panting collectors – I are one!

  13. January 5, 2010 5:28 pm

    We lived in our home during a remodle. We knocked out walls, ripped out the old kitchen, moved plumbing and wiring. It was 4 months of non stop dust and noise, but in the end it was worth it.

    I love the old photos and the history. It must be wonderful to step in the steps of your ancestors.

    • January 7, 2010 10:00 pm

      Finding Pam, Wow 4 months! I hope we’re done in 4 months, but I won’t hold anybody to any deadlines.

  14. January 5, 2010 7:12 pm

    I love old houses, I lived and dreamed of gentle updating in one for 17 years. The only time I ever stayed that long in one place in my life. One of my dreams is to have an old house again. Glad to see some one else doing what needs to be done.

  15. January 5, 2010 8:37 pm

    1881, my gosh. That’s some history. I’m in awe of that. Talk about belonging to a place…

    • January 7, 2010 10:03 pm

      Thistledog, it’s a long time for our part of the woods for sure. The oddity here is that I am only the third generation in all that time. Late marriages, and last kids make for a huge time span and not too much change. I love it!

  16. January 6, 2010 5:03 am

    Looking at ephemera like this something that brings such a smile to my face. It is facinating to see what was on the minds of the people at a given place and time… as you say, marketing is still marketing! You are so lucky to still have those around you. Those kinds of documents can give a lot of insight into any given area – I found that even in the research I did in grad school.
    But what an undertaking to rewire/weatherize the home. I’m impressed – I’d never have the ability/steady nerves to do that.

    • January 7, 2010 10:10 pm

      mangochild, I love the paper documentation. I did a National Register nomination for a house and remaining farm buildings for a woman, and they kept everything, not in a hoarding way, but in a complete way. Very interesting. The house is a museum now in the middle of an industrial area.

      Luckily my hubby likes to do that kind of work. I just have to keep all the “artifacts” out of harms way so he can work!

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