Our old farmhouse

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I really like living on the farm in our very old farmhouse. We believe it was originally built in 1906. My husband, Duane, grew up here. His parents bought the farm in 1958. Many other families have lived here prior to them, and many stories have been told about this farm and farmhouse. Years back, we had a few sisters who were in their late 60s or early 70s who stopped in to visit and requested to see what the house looked like. Their memories dated back to when there was an outhouse out back. There was an upper story stairway that led out to the outhouse beyond the summer kitchen by the orchard. Those ladies recalled running up the main staircase through the door to the private quarters and racing down the back stairway to get to the outhouse first. Our house has changed a lot since they lived in it.

It is a typical farmhouse with two stories, four bedrooms upstairs and four rooms on the first floor that include a dining room that I use as my office and laundry folding area, a parlor where we had a baby grand piano when the kids were home for them to play and the living room where we have a recliner, couch and oversized chair to watch TV. We also have a large kitchen and 2.5 bathrooms. One of my favorite parts of this home is that it has a front porch and also a lovely side porch with a deck for our rocking chairs to relax and enjoy summer evenings.

There have been improvements made to this old house. The deck was added on to the house and the first kitchen remodel were done in 1980, when Duane was graduating from high school. The summer kitchen was opened up and made into an office, but it really wasn’t used because there was carpet installed. Every farmer knows that if you are running to the house for the checkbook, the barn boots stop before going on the carpet. So, it really wasn’t used for its intended purpose. The southern windows were great for growing plants, so we called it the sunroom.

Eighteen years later, we needed to change a few things to accommodate our growing family with newborn twins. We made the office/sunroom into a big bathroom with a shower, two-hole vanity sink and restored a clawfoot bathtub. This proved to be a great decision with four farm kids using this new big bathroom for bath time and teeth brushing. It was — and still is — perfect. The kitchen also got Amish-made cabinets and a kitchen table along with a laundry room bathroom makeover too. New linoleum and carpet were installed, and the kids would take off their barn boots outside and carry them down to the basement. There is a hallway with hooks and storage space for school shoes and backpacks that was out of sight and easy for them to grab and go after cleaning up after morning chores to catch the bus.

Well, we are onto the next 20 years, ready for another makeover. The carpet has to go. I had been saying that we would not get any new carpet until all of the kids were out of the house. The hallway where their coats were hung up and back packs piled has stains from soda and fake blood from Halloween props. Not to mention, all of the dust and other things that are living in that carpet make our allergies flare up every winter. Perhaps a nice wood floor would be good. There are nice, real wood or fabricated floors that would be easy to clean and look great with accent rugs.

Oh my, if we are getting new flooring, perhaps this would be the time to get that fireplace that I have been dreaming about. Just down the road is an amazing showroom with displays of many kinds of fireplaces with real or artificial stone, big or little mantels, and short or tall hearths. There are so many choices and decisions to be made. We know we don’t want to have a wood-burning fireplace but rather one with natural gas flames that can be turned on or off.

So, if we are going to get a fireplace, we need to open up the two rooms and open up the wall to see the beautiful wooden staircase. This remodel project just became big. This will be a job for professionals.

We have been moving furniture, sorting and boxing up books from the shelves. We have been taking down curtains and old aerial farm photos that have been hanging on the wall since they were purchased. We lifted a corner of the carpet to find that the outside of the floor has a beautiful wooden floor underneath, but the middle has other painted boards where they must have had an accent rug way back when the house was built. Removing the outlet covers and the thermostat was also enlightening. The wall was a dark green in the past, and I like it. This is very exciting to be remodeling again.

How long before we have an open room with a fireplace and new floors? The project will most likely last all winter, and a completion date isn’t known yet. We will be ready to help haul out the old carpet, plaster and lathe in the next few days. We will all be waiting with anticipation of our new living room for all of us to enjoy.

Tina Hinchley, her husband Duane and daughter Anna milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots. They also farm 2,300 acres near Cambridge, Wisconsin. The Hinchleys have been hosting farm tours for over 25 years.

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