We have recently made an announcement that High Point Farms has purchased one of our neighbor's houses and we are in the midst of converting it into future "guest lodging"; i.e The Bluebird Cottage. We went from purchase, to planning its renovations, to some light demolition, to some reconstruction, and beginning to complete our phase one. As I wait just a bit for our "reveal" photos, I thought it tmight be interesting to take a small journey back in time a bit - to show you where the farm has come from - prior to its makeover as well as the old farmhouse. Now that we have 3 years under our belt, I feel like I can show the before and after pictures and tell a bit of the story.
Let me start with the farmhouse. The above picture is what the farmhouse looked like in the mid-70's when my parents first purchased the farm. Their initial plan was to renovate and expand the farmhouse but after pulling off the back lean-to part of the rear of the house, they discovered some structural damages that were going to cause too much of a challenge - so they opted to build a new house instead. Here are a few of those early farmhouse pictures - the one on the left shows the back of the farmhouse as it looked at the time of purchase. The photo on the right shows where the lean-to porch and bathroom coming off of the rear of the house had been removed revealing many of its structural issues.
After my parents went to their Plan B, the farmhouse just "sat" for years.The back torn off area had been boarded up to "stop the bleeding." It became more or less a storage building for old furniture and such. Even when I got married - we opted to build our own farmhouse on a far corner of the farm property. Again - years passed and the farmhouse continued to sit. We would patch the farmhouse roof, replace some doors, do what we could to keep the farmhouse standing - hoping that somehow, someday, we would have the resources to tackle something more significant..
The farmhouse became a backdrop of the past. Some people would tell us " you need to just bulldoze down that old house!" while some would lament "you should restore that old house - it has history with so many various families from the valley." We always had hope that someday - we would be able to restore it....in the meantime, I was busy raising my kids and had plenty on my plate besides a major makeover of the farmhouse.
Nine years ago, a twist of fate happened. Jill (my daughter and partner in thiswedding venue) decided to get married here at the farm. She wanted to get married out in the hayfield under the shadow of Lookout Mountain - and she said we would have the reception in the barn. Back then - barn weddings were barely heard of. We were not the first but it was very uncommon and none near here that I am aware of. With the wedding being held in the front field - we decided a little sprucing up of the farmhouse would be in order...and little did we know then that this would be the beginning of more than their marriage but the beginning of a huge change for our families and of the farm.
More to come as the story continues with the transition of the barn - watch for Renovations of the Past and Renovations To Come - Part II.
The days have been especially warm this spring which has made the grass turn green earlier than usual....you know - that almost neon color that you can only see early in the spring? One of the neat things about living out in the country - even as close to Chattanooga as we are - is the fact that once the moon pops out - this place just settles down into a very quiet and peaceful place. Silence is golden in case you thought it was just a song! The stars peep out - the moon comes up over the eastern ridge from the barn....and there is just a calm that takes over. If you are indeed fortunately enough to come on a clear night - you would be amazed at how many stars are actually in the sky. It is a grand place to watch meteor shows....or just grab a lounge chair and set it out flat in the middle of the field and just soak it all in.
Anyway - morning is also like this. When I say morning - you know - "dawn." that is very very early. The fog often comes in and rest in the pastures and fields - I suppose partly because we have the Chattanooga creek running through the property. Jill took some early morning photos that I wanted to share with you so that you can kick your senses into gear and feel what I am talking about. Part of the fun of watching all of your weddings take place out here is that I can just see that the guests are at ease - having fun - taking in the sights and sounds of being in the country. Kids being able to romp and play......older folks enjoying the garden and the reminiscing of memories from their past....and the rest - just enjoying being out of the hectic hustle and bustle of our chaotic society. Anyway....enjoy these photos and dream about your next visit here at High Point Farms.
P.S. I would love to hear from all of you blog readers.....I relish comments - good ones of course!
After all of the frigid cold weather and snowy days, we have been blessed with a string of beautiful spring like weather. With all of the new projects on our list, the warm days have helped us get a few things accomplished.
First was to get our High Point Farm sign made. With the help of a great find at the Antique store, we hung the sign on a wagon yolk creating a very authentically country shingle for our new business.
Second, we did a little more painting to the Milkhouse followed by adding a trellis and vine in the back, moving the aged grapevine and constructed a new trellis out of the old arbor from Jill's house. This opens up the back of the Milkhouse and allows a much more open atmosphere around the barn arena. We found some vintage metal flowers to help our winter blues as we await some spring daffoldils. Well - clean out the barn and buy some lights...things are beginning to take shape.
Major move was when Jill decided to take down the old Chicken Coop off of the back of the barn. Wow - what a difference this one thing made. Suddenly, the view to the north just pops out at you as you stand under the grove of trees on the west side of the barn. I can easily see that this area could easily be dotted with round linen strewn tables enjoying the view and the shade. This has possibilities - add a couple of projects to the list.
Lastly, a new addition to the family farm critter count. Bear, a 10 week old Great Pyrenees pup, has come to live with us. Hopefully Bear will follow in his father's footsteps and be a great guardian for the livestock, especially our goats, as we begin to scoot the animals permanently out of the barn. Coyotes are occasionally sited and with the little baby kids running around, it somehow seemed like a good move to plan for a protector to help us balance this part-time farm and part-time wedding venue business. Bear has much to learn - to be socialized with us and our visitors, and to learn his natural role with the goats. More updates on Bear in a few days. Let me show you a few pictures of our improvements.
THE DECISION: January is a month of new resolutions and fresh starts. Daughter (and co-conspirator) Jill and I have been batting around this new idea for months -the "if we did's" and the "what we could do's" and the "why and why not's" have all been chit-chatted about between each other and amongst the rest of the family. I guess we see the possibilities more than the downside because it appears as though we are moving forward with this new idea - to open up our farm to weddings and events! Thinking back, we really were surprised at how unique and extraordinary Jill's wedding in 2005 turned out to be. The farm looked great - the visitors were all floored by the effect - and it was picture perfect in so many ways. So, to tackle the details once again will require a very long to-do-list, some money for repairs, lots of time for renovations, and plenty of sweat equity from any and all family members. Jill reminds me that "brides are picking their dates now" so the clock is ticking. With a slew of baby goats being born over the Christmas holidays and the weather turning out to be one of the colder and snowier winters - the challenge has just increased ten-fold. The barn is still full of hay and plenty of critters. Mucking out the barn will come in time for we still need the shelter of the barn. But the short days of winter and the colorless hue of the farm in January forces us to remember.....remember how green things turn in spring - that special shade of green that only comes from the spring grasses - the joy as our old stock of daffodils are the first to bloom in early February - and to remember the beauty of that summer day in June 2005. Unfortunately - a newcomer to High Point Farms has no such memory. Luckily we have the pictures of Jillian and John's wedding to show off. We have so many more ideas now than earlier. We have had time now to mull over our new vision and we see the possibilities. Even all of our friends and family may end up being a bit surprised at some of our ideas...but for now, a shout out to all of the family - "All hands on deck...." and let's get to the list. Build a door?...pull up a fence?.....clean out the tack room?.....let's begin.