I know you guys can only be so interested in tales of laborious brush removal. I only care to think about it so much too. This is the kind of man-v-nature battle that we’ll be enduring for the rest of our lives. But what I’m about to show you is amazing; the transformation of our backyard is really starting to become evident as we slowly remove low-hanging branches, weeds, vines, and assorted thorny brush.
I should preface this whole photo-heavy post by mentioning that when we first toured the house in early April, there were no leaves, not even buds on the brush and trees. Line of sight was excellent, we could see all the way to the bottom of the valley in the backyard of our home, all the way through to both of our neighbors, and straight back to our barn and beyond.
When we stopped by the house in late May to scope out the foliage development, we were greeted with this:
In that photo, about 50 feet ahead to the right, was the barn. I’m sure you’d like to think that you can see some semblance of yellow paint, or a wall, but you can’t. Sorry. We pushed through the brush that day until we were about 10 feet from the structure before we were able to confirm that it was still actually there, that it hadn’t completely collapsed or burnt down or whatever. It was that disguised.
Within a few weeks thanks to some heavy mowing, we tamed it down to this:
It took us another few days to bring that same space from what you saw above, to this, which is how it looks today:
The long clearing process leaves us with a very different backyard. We can see much more–almost all–of the split rail fence that divides the grassy backyard from an area that had been left as an untamed pasture. We can see from the house to the barn with a clear line of sight. We have a lot more cleared space that will, in time, add to our grassy yard and become more gardening space.
But best of all, after much longing, we now have access to our two-story barn, a great structure that I only just found the time to scope out from the backside this weekend.
I’ve alluded a little bit already to the fact that the barn is a two-story outbuilding, the top level an open space with a garage door, and the bottom, built onto the side of a hill sloping into a valley, lined with stables which accommodated the previous owners horses. Super cool, but super in need of repair. The roof is partially disintegrated and the flooring decayed from years of rainwater and leaf pile-up, but the structure itself, strangely sound. Sound enough, at least, to be the perfect home for a family of turkey vultures with a wingspan wider than mine who scattered loudly and not in a subtle way the moment we drew in close. (We think they moved on over the last few weeks, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen them soaring through the yard.)
The downstairs of the barn appears to have a lot of potential, whether for animals or for storage or for a killer multi-room playhouse. It also still houses a very dead raccoon, which is why I haven’t actually stepped foot into it yet. The details that I can see from the doorway are great, or, at least exhilarating; sliding barn doors on old, rusty tracks, partitioned off stables (four total, and a wide open communal space for their accouterments), big spiders, and broken windows. You know, the works.
We spent an evening last week cleaning out the top level of the barn. Eventually, it’ll be a great place to store all of our outdoor equipment, but more immediately the roof and flooring need to be updated.
Cleanup wasn’t as bad as we were expected; simple shoveling and sweeping away the leaves and debris only took an hour or so and really exposed what we were dealing with, which is a lot of rotten wood and a lot of shingles. Not to mention the exterior, which needs a lot of paint, among other repairs. We are stoked. This is clearly a before shot. I can’t find any of the after shots that I thought I took but probably forgot about, so imagine it leaf-free with a very spongey area beneath where the leaves were, and several body-sized holes.
It’s actually a really big barn, almost the same square footage as our garage x 2 because of its two levels. The upstairs story is about level with the main land, and complimented by a big cement ramp, which had been completely hidden by 6″ of brush and leaves turned organic soil which rolled back like a solid piece of carpet. Cody helped to some extent, mostly by looking happy and not falling through the rotten floor.
I had forgotten that the windows were actually in good shape in the upstairs of the barn. For some reason, the previous owners had covered them for privacy. Only a few things come to mind when I find a barn deep in the woods with shielded windows, and it can be described in just two words: Criminal Minds.
So, sticky came right off because we have nothing to hide, which immediately brightened up the room .
Our hopes, despite the open roof, is that these moist areas of the floor will begin to dry out so that we can assess the real damage. The roof will need to be completely replaced, not to mention the interior flooring, the sill plate, and the end joist that are supporting the southern wall of the second story. The roof joists however, are actually in really good shape considering that one whole section has been beaten by the elements. Repairing it won’t be a full rebuild, but will require a bit of effort to reinforce any weakening areas. It’s a summer project, more laborious than $$$, but one that I should have added to the ambitious list last week.