Owl’s Corner – Cottage in the Country -is the name – (and yes there is a story there but that will come later in a blog) this is the farmhouse my Grandfather built. Back in the 1920’s, the basement was built and, like many at that time, that is where they lived.
My father was born in 1931 and just a few years later, grandpa finished off the top part of the basement, which is now the main floor of the house. Finally a home for his wife and son for the memories to begin. My father grew up in the house and went to grade school just a couple of miles away. When it was time for high school, he drove in to Burrton, just 6 miles away. Dad had wonderful memories on the farm . . . from swimming in the river, taking watermelons from a neighbors field, to hunting with his dog and of course helping with chores.
As a child it was fun for me to go to Grandma’s house. This little house was the main place I remember as I was growing up. Grandpa worked for Skelly Oil and was transferred to Eastern Greenwood County for a few years and then to Rice County for a few years but when I was in 4th grade, they were transferred back to Harvey County to live in this house. This is where the majority of my childhood memories began. It was always a special place to stay, out in the country, at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Every Spring there was a big garden; always animals; chickens and cows and sometimes goats or geese. The river provided a place to fish and swim. Grandpa taught me how to fish, how to hunt, and how to play dominoes. This is also where I learned to drive a tractor. Grandma showed me how to gather eggs, kill and clean chickens, bake bread, and how to play card games. Evening time was often spent playing horseshoes or croquet or sitting outside with a bowl of ice cream telling stories. Many Sunday dinners were spent in the dining room with homemade bread and fried chicken – both of which Grandma was very good at fixing. …so the memories were made.
This tiny farm house sits on a 40 acres. This 40 is only a portion of what was originally homesteaded by my Great-Great Grandparents in the 1800’s when the Railroad was giving land away. I know my Great Grandparents were married on July 20 1902 and had 6 children and each of their children inherited 80 acres. My grandfather had one child, and I have one sister. Sis and I each received 40 acres after Dad decided his 80 acres.
Several years have elapsed by since my grandparents passed away. After retirement, my father would spend a day or two a week staying in this tiny house repairing things, but his effort and hard work was just not enough. Deterioration was everywhere and Dad was not getting any younger. The years had just taken a toll on house.
Finally, many issues called for necessary repairs … some minor and some major. So in 2008, my son, Jason, took up residence in the almost vacant house and decided to take on the refurbishing. Looking over the structure of the old family farmhouse, he thought he would start with the easy but necessary things. Grandma had canned many vegetables and many of those mason jars were still on the shelves in the (cellar type) basement. Working diligently, the mason jars filled with tomatoes and some unrecognizable garden produce were thrown out. After the basement, Jason knew he needed to add attic insulation. After his climb through the small opening to the attic, a problem became apparent; there was knob and tube electric lines running through the ceiling joists.
AND SO IT BEGINS… The decision was made to clear the walls to studs and have the house totally rewired to make it safe. Peeling back the multiple layers of wallpaper, Jason was able see the ever-changing colors and styles Grandma had enjoyed over 50 plus years. Tearing into this project, my son quickly discovered those old walls were built with plaster and lath. Although a tiny house, removing that material from all the walls was not going to be a ‘quick’ job. After lots of painstaking pulling and pounding and scooping and sweeping, the walls were finally bare to the studs and ready for the electricians.
AND SO IT BEGINS…
Electricians came and completed the rewire of the entire house. Jason started the installation of sheet rock. This was starting to be a place for him and his son to build their own memories, after all – they had already built a tree house just for James (age 4).
Then a tragedy struck, the worst possible happened! My son was killed in a car accident. He was survived by his 4 year old son, James. What can I say – a parent is never prepared for this. What a shock, what a jolt!
Again the house was empty…Pipes froze and broke…The makeshift half bath was falling apart. Some bare walls still remained. … What to do? … Should the house be torn down? … Should the house be remodeled? … Would it be worth the large sum of money to fix it? Night after night the question “What to do with the house?” went through my mind, but, with a broken heart, decisions didn’t come easy.
As I was mowing the weed filled yard one evening, a gentleman stopped to talk. He was a young man and wanted to know if he might possibly rent the house for him and his wife, who was pregnant. I said it was not safe for a family to live in but he insisted on looking at it anyway. He was a contractor and his business was to build houses. He and his wife wanted to rent the place … so a deal was made. They could live there cheaply if they worked on making repairs. They would provide the skilled labor and I would provide the materials.
AND SO IT BEGINS…
Many Projects began and many projects were completed by this couple as they lived in, repaired and rented the house. They did major construction – they built a modern bathroom. They took that cellar and turned it into a finished basement; replaced rotten windows, added sheet rock, built a bedroom, a play area, and added carpet. What a huge change!
They worked hard and finished the sheet rock on the main floor. They laid ceramic tile in the kitchen and dining area and in the new bathroom. A home for his wife and child for memories to be made. They worked for almost two years on the house while raising their daughter and both holding jobs. Then one day, a job offer in Western Kansas was too good to pass up, so they packed their belongings and started a new adventure.
What to do? The house was empty again. Not everything was finished – trim work around windows needed to be installed, a few base-boards needed to be put in place, and the front porch was crumbling away. A new back porch, without chunks missing in the steps, would sure be nice. What should I do. How much can I complete?
The very next month, my husband’s daughter (our daughter) decided she would be happy to rent the house instead of having it sit empty. She and her significant other rented the house and soon they had a son. Yes they were building memories. But after a couple of years in the country, a decision was made that they were going to move into town.
And again the house was empty. Now what to do????
AND SO IT BEGINS…
I decided it was time for me to step up and work on the house with the help of my grandson. James is now old enough to be a lot of help. Our goal is to create an exciting and artfully decorated place that families will want to rent… maybe for a weekend or maybe for a week…a place to get away and enjoy the countryside and create a few of their own memories.
AND SO IT BEGINS… many Exciting Projects will be shown in future blogs.