The farmhouse renovations are nearing completion, at last! It was a much bigger project than we originally imagined renovating the old house, due to quirks in original construction and the need for completely new electrical wiring, plumbing, and HVAC. Although we did much of the demolition last summer, we quickly recognized the need for professional help, and getting tradespeople out to the farm was a challenge at times. But it’s getting close to habitability, and it looks beautiful, inside and out.
Front Entrance: Before
Side Entrance: Before
Front Entrance: After
Side Entrance: After
Our plan is to use the downstairs as multi-purpose workspaces, with a kitchen, farm office, and fiber arts studio (see Farmhouse Fiber Arts for more info). Upstairs we have a bedroom, sitting room, and bathroom for our living quarters. It is an evolving process, but it is gradually taking shape.
In February, 2018, we planted Virginia Pines to replace trees that died in the past couple of years. We got 100 healthy-looking trees from Oklahoma Forestry Services and planted them on a warmish winter day. They got plenty of rain in the following weeks, so hopefully will be well established for spring growth.
In March, we built two 4’x12’ raised beds for a kitchen garden. They are ideally located on the south side of the house. We planted seeds for cool season plants (peas, lettuce, spinach, etc.) on March 24th, and covered them with an old screen door to protect them from cold and/or hard rain.
This week, we had a temperature drop of about 20 degrees, with highs in the low 80s instead of high 90s-very unusual for August! We’ve been doing a lot of work around the farm-Miles finished the 7.5-foot tall deer fence that completely circles the orchard, house, and Christmas trees, and we have been clearing out brush and debris from this “production area” inside the new fence.
It’s amazing to see the cedar planks that were cut and milled on the farm itself in the early 1900s. Some are scorched by a fire that happened in an older house where Miles’ grandparents lived when it burned down in about 1910, others are whitewashed—these older planks were reused when they rebuilt the “new” house that we’re working on now.
We’re planning to leave some of these walls uncovered, since they are beautiful and tell a story. Next step is to get an electrician in to replace the ancient wiring throughout the house-could be complicated since the entire house-every wall, ceiling, and floor are built of these solid planks.
We had a wet spring in 2017, with multiple flooding events. Here in Democrat Hollow, we have some trees down and debris that washed down Democrat Creek to clean out, and we could use a load of clay and gravel to improve the driveway, but we are uphill from the worst flooding.
We feel lucky compared to our neighbors in the valley. For the second time in the last 5 years, flash flooding destroyed the lower section of Greg and Vicky Schneider’s vineyard at the Railway Winery. Fortunately, the tasting room and upper field escaped undamaged, and the bottling of native Arkansas wine continues. Other neighbors have been out repairing fences that were damaged, and the Highway Department has been working on sections of the road that were washed out.
The historic, one-lane Beaver Suspension Bridge was closed for about a month, cutting off easy access from local communities of Holiday Island and Eureka Springs, but it re-opened in late June.