Sunday, December 20, 2020

House -> Home

Some background.

We live on mom's side of the family's Century Farm, great grandfather Charles bought the property in 1884 after coming over from the Black Forest area of Germany, later my grandmother inherited the 162 oddly shaped acres, never actually having lived here herself.  Her sons did however, beginning their farming careers here, various cousins as well as other more distant relatives have over time been here also.  Mom and her siblings inherited the farm and in 1989 decided to put it up for sale.  Peg and I at that time were in our first house in St. Paul and for many reasons, decided to purchase the farm.  Cousins were living here at the time, farming full time with supplemental employment off the farm.  For a number of months, we were landlords.  Mother's Day 1990 the auction took place, our renters moved out and that summer the weeds grew thick and tall.

In 1984 while the extended family celebrated the 100 years of ownership, Peg and I were living in Orange County, California so we missed the celebration.  Only a few short years later, the original farm  house caught on fire and essentially burned to the ground.  Our young cousins moved a mobile home in over the top of the old cellar and that was their home when we purchased the property.  After the auction, the cellar was here, their old mobile home was gone, the barn and other out buildings all empty.  That summer we setup a small tent trailer and used it on weekends as we became familiar with what was here, beginning our plans to build a home and move.  Not able or ready to build a home but very anxious to leave St. Paul, we purchased a used mobile home in Plum City and had it moved onto the property.  Before our St. Paul house was even sold, we moved to 'the farm'.

I commuted to the Twin Cities at first, then found a job in nearby Red Wing and only a year or so later, left local employment returning to my commuting task, something I've continued with to this day.  Everything about our new home and life was adventure, 4 small kiddos in the mobile home, lambs, rabbits, goats, horses in the barn, gardens, weeds, fences to build, fences to tear down, old buildings to remove, one of them only slid to a new location.  Every single memory of those days good, even my climbing under the mobile home to thaw out frozen pipes.  Baby lambs being born only in the worst weather, every once in awhile spending time in the kitchen to thaw out and return to life.  

As I said, adventure.

In the spring of 1994, the basement was dug.  During the day, I was working in one or more of the the Twin City suburbs, Peg was homeschooling the kids.  Evenings and weekends we were builders, Peg the Brains and Brawn, I filled in with the remaining Brawn.

3 of the big kids, Hanna not yet big.

 Walls were poured....

 Ben exploring the peaks...

 Lots has changed since this photo was taken.  That which we've come to call the Tree Field was an acre of cropland when we arrived, now huge soft maples canopy that section of the 1000' driveway.  The driveway was moved so that we could put the garage in its place.  The building barely visible on left in this photo is the old Summer Kitchen, the cook space when summers were hot.  It originally sat about 100' to the north.  The house foundation is where the old corn crib sat, just one of many buildings no longer present.

Ah the memories of summer flooding....


  Foundation in, Phase 1 lumber delivered, lots of materials were staged in the barn and milkhouse.


Sometimes the lambs pitched in...

When the fun work started....

First a garage in St.Paul, a garage on the farm and then the house.  I've totally used up my desire and ability to build.  That is more building for me!

But if you've a little first level framing you'd appreciate some help with, I'd take the call.

More segments to follow in this home-building series.


  1. OMG ! Flip flops on the job site... child labor....! The horror ....

  2. Very cool recap of the adventure you and your family have made on your land. Actually kinda jealous. The dream of buying land in a secluded location regularly pops into my brain....perhaps someday, though I doubt it'll be 160 acres!

    1. This is something we have in common...privacy. I've always said, it's not so much the fact that we own the acres. Rather, the fact that someone else does not.