Open House – Part III (The Final Trilogy Ends Today!)
So much to tell…..so little time, but let’s begin.
My blogs for Open House Part I and Part II have gone over the events of Open House day as well as most of the winter projects related to the barn….but there is still much more that we had on our To-Do List. Mainly it has been projects concern the old farmhouse.
Most of you think of the farmhouse like the picture above – as you see it today. It was not….let me repeat and put it in caps to express more intensity….IT WAS NOT like this when my parents purchased the farm. Let me show you what it did look like.
This is the house that my parents thought that they would renovate once they purchased the farm but soon after pulling off a back addition with a lean-to type kitchen and bathroom area, they discovered some structural issues and damages that were going to make this renovation much more of a project than they originally had planned for.
Once the decision was made to go to a plan B and build a new house, my dad boarded up the back of the farmhouse where the wing had been pulled off and switched his focus to building a new house. Now, I will say that we lived in the farmhouse, minus a kitchen and a bathroom because those had been torn down with that first minor demolition. Though it was only for about 4 months, it was an interesting experience and challenging to say the very least. The Men’s restroom currently in the barn was originally installed in 1976 by my grandfather so that we would have a toilet. We had an outdoor make-shift shower (no walls, no heat) behind the farmhouse so needless to say, they were quick and always semi-clothed.
This is me having more fun washing my horse than taking a quick shower but it shows you where the shower was. You can see the “Milkhouse” (i.e. the Man Cave) in the background. It too has had a make-over, huh? My mother had a make-shift kitchen set up on the wrap-around front porch with a wok, a toaster oven, and a Coleman stove. You can cook about anything you need on those three things. It was better than camping but still very rustic….but we were all so happy to have the farm that even this crude living for those several months was more of an adventure than a hardship. As winter approached and the brick house was still under construction but “dried in” as they say, it was the bathroom in the Master Suite that was the very first thing to be completed so that we had a real shower with warm water and a door and a real toilet without bugs. That’s called “Living in High Cotton.” I can remember sleeping upstairs in the farmhouse bedroom – no insulation in those walls, one receptacle with a mini-heater plugged up, about 3 quilts piled on my bed in order to stay warm, a cat or two sleeping on top of the quilts because I had snuck them in through the window, and come morning….when you could see your breath in the chilly air but your bladder said get out of bed, I would throw off those weighted quilts, slip on my house shoes and a robe, run lickety split down the stairs, through the hall, off the porch, across the yard, onto the brick house porch, open the door and scale the steps, down the hall, into the bedroom, and finally make my way to the toilet. It was a feat only a young bladder could accomplish!
So as the history of the farm goes – the brick house was finally completed and the old farmhouse turned into more of a storage unit. Years later when I got married and we decided to move to the farm, I wanted my own private corner of the farm and we built our home in the northwest corner of the farm under the big tall oak trees…..so again, the farmhouse just sat. I raised my family here on the farm and the kids would often play house in the old farmhouse but mostly it was a glorified storage unit. We would often do small projects to the house just to keep it from falling completely apart; repair a window, patch a leak in the roof, repair the hole in the basement that the groundhog made, etc.
Twelve years ago, my daughter Jill decided to get married here on the farm out in the field in front of the farmhouse AND have her reception in the barn – a thing not heard of back that many years ago. With a total of 3 months to plan a wedding, muck and power-wash the barn, collect vintage china from every thrift store in town, etc., we also decided to spruce up the visuals of the farmhouse just a bit. Apparently it is a tradition for us to cram as much work as possible on a huge project in a short amount of time as possible……..LOL! We did a good enough job that several of her wedding pictures were taken on the front porch – forever tying her to the farmhouse.
History had turned and after the wedding, Jill and her new husband John decided that they wanted to come live on the farm and tackle the renovations of the farmhouse. What John thought would be some minor clean up, few repairs and some paint (ha, ha), turned into a gradual metamorphosis involving more time, energy, and money than he every imagined. We did most of the renovations ourselves, keeping as much of anything original and usable as possible both from a budget standpoint as well as a purposeful philosophy. Each year, just as we now do winter projects, Jill and John tackled another list of To-Do’s on the farmhouse….working through slowly and as money could be allotted for certain projects. Children came along that slowed the process from time to time (actually three times)…. but life is a journey not a destination. The farm and farmhouse have woven themselves into our lives and created a wealth of stories, experiences, trials, challenges, heartache, work ethic, and a true love and appreciation for life here with all of its complications.
The farmhouse began to take shape. Many projects done but anybody with an old house will tell you that they never end….which feels true. As we began doing weddings, Jill gave up her front room for the brides to prep in. Eventually, Jill moved her family of five from the farmhouse to the cabin on the knoll closer to the creek. The farmhouse once again became more of a storage area for vintage china, wedding rentals, and a work room…. plus upstairs was more of a play room for the kids while we worked close by.
We have finished the farmhouse renovations – could it be?….maybe, maybe not…but we have certainly refined her, gave her a make-over of sorts, and made her primed and ready for her next phase. We are now allowing the farmhouse to be used as an extra option – to rent her for over-night lodging. So, for an extra $300, you would get access to not only the Bridal Suite w/powder room….but all of the downstairs would be opened up which gives so much more spill out space for the entourage of people that hover around the bride on wedding day; hair and make up vendors, bridesmaids, flower girls and their mom, Mother of the Bride, Photographer 1 and 2, and so on. So….more spill out space. The downstairs offers another restroom and we have put in a nice large shower. There is a great room with a living area and unique kitchen space.
Upstairs masks no secret that this is an authentic farmhouse. The steps have a higher rise to them than a typical stairways of today. In fact, they say you can almost tell how old a house is by how high the rise is in the stairs…which this one, we think, dates back to before the Civil War.
Upstairs there is a front bedroom with a King Size bed and windows on three sides. This is the bedroom that I slept in when younger. We have actually added bonafide heat and air system – no more window units and plug in heaters! In the back is a Master Suite with a King size bed (The Cowboy overlooks) with a TV sitting area (with a daybed) plus their own powder bathroom. What a rare opportunity for you to sleep in such a unique place with so much history and ambiance.
Another benefit to adding on the extra option for the Farmhouse lodging is that you would not only have the extra lodging options but it gives you more prep space during the prep time and you would not need then to vacate the farmhouse by 8 p.m. which is the typical standard. This means you could delay some of that pack up/exit chores to later in the evening then leaving those left who will actually spend the night.
…………Next up…..We are offering two different items that you may want to consider for your wedding “favors.” First is Goat Soap samples. Our goats have become our mascots and brides and guests too are enamored with our sweet goats – how could they not? We have had requests to do this, so we made the plunge to add it this year. We have options on different smells and sizes so check with us if interested. We sell her per piece and then for an extra charge, we can even use our decor wares and make a cute display for you.
The second farm related favor option is Farm Flower Seed Packets. You know we are all about flowers and have them everywhere. Each year guests rave about our beautiful flowers, especially our Cock’s Comb fuchsia flowers that line so many of our beds. They are easy to grow, handle drought, hard to abuse, and they have such a long extended bloom time that you certainly do get lots of bang for your buck. We decided to start with these seeds. Again – check with us about pricing and if you want us to creatively display them as well. So, consider giving your guests a bit of the farm to take home with them.
Then finally – drum roll for the “finally”…..High Point Farms is offering Farm Fresh Flower “designs” for your bouquets or your table arrangements. We are so into flowers and have them planted everywhere. We have often used them when handling our own decorating clients and for Rehearsal Dinner table decor accents. We keep getting more and more requests from brides who do want a more natural and organic look to their flower designs. Fresh is certainly true and being able to infuse local (right outside the barn local, I mean) flowers is appealing to many. Our approach and our product tends to look quite different than a typical florist. We often infuse herbs, berries, wildflowers, and more “outside the box” plants in our productions which gives it a very unique look.
A picture does paint a thousand words and these do a good representation of what we want to achieve. Using as many flowers that are in bloom at the time of your wedding, infusing natural plants to add texture and interest, accents with even herbs both for blooms and for foliage, and just a more organic approach. If this philosophy and look interests you, then it is a conversation to be had. We won’t be as cheap as a grocery store flowers, but we won’t look like them either. If you are more interested in a refined sculpted look then best to stay with one of our preferred florists who will dazzle you in that look. We are not in direct competition with them but feel as though we are just offering something different. We are open to selling you flowers “by the bucket” but as you ponder your choices, consider the tedious time that it requires on a day that you don’t have much extra time and that a bit of experience in flower arranging will be of visual benefit typically to you. Any consultations on the flowers will need ample time – so don’t wait till the last minute to ask.
So, finally….the secrets have been revealed and the multitude of additional choices are out there. I am in the process of updating the Bridal Survival Guide and the website. I hope to go over some of the basics in a broad email to our booked brides within the week. I hope these are exciting ideas to you.
Thanks again to Sabrina at Bri Sanders Photography for taking so many of these photos and so quickly sharing them with me – at no charge! It certainly has helped to tell these stories with some beautiful photos of our Open House, our additional furniture pieces, our winter projects, the farmhouse renovations, and our additional favor options and flower services.