Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Visiting the new cottage at Sandstone Farm, Ohio

Last night I spent the night with my inspirational friend Francis. We were at her farm.

She's owned the place for 17 years. She keeps ten horses there, along with two barn cats, three dogs, and a semi-adopted racoon. The driveway to the house and barn is almost a mile long.

Francis has recently been through some major changes in her life. She owns a few beautiful, though neglected houses in Mansfield that she rents and lives in. She spreads herself thin with her full time job, she also owns and runs a separate small business, and manages her farm by herself.

This year she's put a ton of energy into revamping the property. It's called Sandstone Farm and it's in northern Richland County, Ohio. It includes over 240 acres of beautiful Ohio woodlands and fields. The name comes from the house which is built from sandstone blocks. Other than a brief period the house has been empty for at least 30 years. She lived there for about a year seven years back, but it was more like camping. There was not much of a roof, no windows, and no running water. Most tent camping I've done was in higher style and provided more comfort. She got so sick living there in the winter that she relented and returned to civilization.

Her dream has been to live on the property. But it's not exactly up to contemporary living standards. Nevertheless, in late September she moved back out to a cabin where she will be living for at least a year, until she can get the main house usable again.

The cabin is cozy and very cool.

It was just a little plywood building when I last saw it. Now it's got rough hewn planks on the interior walls, insulation (everywhere but the floor--which is plywood suspended over dirt), new wood siding, six new windows, and even heating. There is still no running water--she showers in town.

It looks great, especially from the perspective of this full time Airstreamer. I purchased a second Airstream and she considered moving in to that, but sadly opted out for her self-made cabin, which I admit is cool and more appropriate to her needs.

Her barn is in great shape. For her birthday my mom and I gave her a load of gravel to fill a huge hole between the barn and the paddock where the horses come in and out daily. For too long the hole was a pit of mud and muck. It's now solid ground and should stay dry.

I took my Airstream out for the night and we had dinner in there. Francis looked very elegant eating dinner on the couch of my traveling home. There is nothing like an Airstream to add a touch of refinement to a once neglected farm.

It was fun and wonderful to see her living on her property again. While she has a long way to go, her living quarters this time around are much better than when she lived in the stone house seven years ago.

It will take time but if the progress she's made this year is any indicator, this will be one amazing property very soon.

My Airstream has now visited horse farms in South Carolina, Virginia, New York, and Ohio.