I found myself looking through the file labeled “farm building” pictures on my computer the other day. What a difference five years makes. Five years ago this month this was our new farm. Five years ago there was absolutely nothing here, not a perimeter fence, not an old falling down barn or shed, absolutely nothing but raw land. Five years ago this month Jason and I were totally clueless as to how much work, time and money it was going to take to turn our raw land into a functioning farm. Don’t get me wrong, we knew it was going to involve tremendous amounts of work, time and money. But I don’t think it is ever possible to over-estimate how much work, time and money a project like this takes.
I’m proud to say that after designing the layout and then overseeing and sometimes doing the work ourselves, we are still married. After three barns, six run-in sheds, about 23,000 feet (a little over 7,000 meters) of fence which involves about 3,300 fence posts and 40,000+ boards, a mile of water lines and electrical lines, and many other things like, oh, building our house, we still speak to each other.
At this point Jason and I laugh out loud when we hear the saying “if your marriage can survive building a house together it can survive almost anything.” Our house was the last thing we built. It was about as challenging for us as eating a piece of cake at that point (and I’m a pro at eating cake). We were seasoned pros by the time we got to the house. I don’t even think of that as an event, or a thing. It felt like a little side project by that point. No, no, no. If you can survive deciding on the layout of everything I mentioned above, then deciding how everything will look, where every last fence post will go, where the water spigots will go, where the driveways will go, where the stalls will be in the barns, what color the roofs will be, where you are going to place every gate . . . if you can survive all that while simultaneously working together every day, building a house is a walk in the park.
Through the whole process the biggest fight we had, and in fact the biggest fight we have ever had, period, was about auto waterers. That fight was epic. It lasted for days. We went to the brink of divorce over auto waterers, not designing and building our house. I literally lost my voice screaming at Jason during our multi-day Water War. Jason got so angry his face was permanently a blotchy red color for three days. We fought almost to the death of our marriage over auto waterers. We ended up with auto waterers in every pasture. They are, without question, the best decision we ever made. I am glad that on the rare occasion Jason won and was right, he was really, really right. I was really, really wrong. The horses drink from them no problem, and in fact overall water consumption went up with the waterers.
We survived the Water War (barely), the fencing, barns, run-ins, water-lines, spent a cringe-worthy amount of money paying someone with a bulldozer to clear paths for fences and driveways, and generally hemorrhaged money at an appalling rate throughout the process. On the other hand our house came in almost exactly on budget and consisted of some friendly discussions about layout, design, colors, trim, etc. By then we knew how to plan, budget, and most importantly, say no.
Without further reminiscing on those “fun” times, here are some pictures from five years ago, along with some “after” pictures. These pictures are only of the front part of the farm, in another post I’ll share some before and after pictures of other parts of the farm. It takes awhile to sort through all of the pictures.
View from the road in May 2010, the day before fence construction began
May 2010 after fence construction, this picture is the same view as above. These are the gates to our driveway at the road.
This picture is also the same view as the above two pictures but taken after we had an actual driveway, one run-in shed and the beginnings of the front barn.
The same view from the road as it looks today looking at the front barn and the first two run-in sheds.
Three years ago we fenced the other side of the driveway and built our 7th and final pasture.
A before picture looking at the front of the farm from the opposite direction (at the road instead of looking in at the farm from the road) five years ago.
How the same view above looks now
Walden and Fabrizzio
Sam and Mick
Silky and Norman
River and Rubrico
Hemi, Tony and Trigger
Trigger and Ritchie
Rip and Grand
Romeo and George