Aaron wanted to title our first post, “new beginnings,” and it really is for us! For the last year or so, we’ve been wanting to take on a project together and fix up a home, and a few weeks ago, we bought a beautiful old farmhouse in a town called Buckley about 35 minutes from my work at PLU. I don’t think either of us knew HOW big a project this would be, until it was too late and we’d already fallen in love with this 1930’s, Dutch colonial farmhouse on six acres. Some of my favorite things about it are the old fruit and nut trees around the property, the many small “outbuildings” including chicken coops, goat sheds, cow stalls, etc., the gambrel roof on the farmhouse, the spring that sources all the water, and the family history there. The last owners lived on the farm for about seventy years, building everything on the land themselves (they lived in a tent in the yard for months while the house was being built!). There’s an old milking shed behind the barn, a room with a concrete tub to put the milk jugs in to cool, four different chicken coops, and plenty of interesting farm tools – one of them is a “hog cane,” which looks a bit like a walking staff, but was used to steer pigs around the farm.
The home is tiny – two bedrooms and one bathroom. We’re hoping to do some additions that will add a bump-out on the second floor for a third bedroom and bath, and some space below for a covered porch. We are so thankful for family and friends who came to help us do a “demo day” last weekend where we were able to get most of the downstairs demo done – old, 1960’s cabinets removed, walls taken out, and many, many bags of old, peach-colored sheetrock removed. We found the happiest surprise of cedar shiplap walls and ceilings under the old sheetrock, and beautiful old original fir floors under teal and pink floral linoleum. We filled about 35 contractors bags! At some point, we’ll need to get a big dumpster in to get rid of those, and all the other things left on the property. Aaron was disappointed that the sellers took an old motorcycle behind the barn before leaving, but left us a broken down station wagon covered with tarps!
We’re excited to document this adventure together, and hope you can come visit us when we’re finished with our farm on Fettig Road!
Owning your own farm, living off the land, getting back to the simple life. For many, these phrases harken back to a bygone era, a time when social media didn’t dominate our lives, a reality star wasn’t running for president, and when your very existence was tied to your hard work and perseverance. For me, growing up on a farm provided so many opportunities and lessons, that it seemed natural to want to get back to that as I moved forward with the next stage of my life. A stage that involves a wonderful woman that shares this dream of having a picturesque farm in the country. This blog is a way to document the journey toward that dream.
As Lindsey (the wonderful aforementioned woman) is in a more settled job as a professor at Pacific Lutheran University, we decided that we wanted to find a piece of property near her work. And I began the process of finding ways to work remotely and plan a move from the Hood River area to the Tacoma area. While Tacoma and the surrounding Puget Sound area are beautiful, there are very few classic farmhouses on large swaths of land. Even buildable lots with a few acres are at a premium. We begin widening our search further and further out from the city center and Lindsey’s work. There were a few houses that intrigued us, such as the classic farmhouse in Orting complete with a flock of wild peacocks. But nowhere really felt like home. There was always something that caused us to keep looking. A railroad track nearby, close neighbors, the distance from Tacoma, the amount of work needed, or the price. We kept looking.
In June, Lindsey sent me a link to a property listed on Zillow. For sale by owner, 2 bedroom 1 bath on 6.5 acres. While it looked intriguing, it was extremely small and was in bad shape. Despite the acreage I wondered if this was any better than the previous houses we had looked at. Lindsey viewed the property first and instantly fell in love. “This is the one,” she exclaimed over the phone. She wanted to put an offer in right away so I made the trip north to check it out for myself. When I turned the corner and went down the driveway for the first time, I immediately fell in love as well. Pear and walnut trees flanked the road as the property opened into a hidden meadow. There sat an old Dutch colonial style farmhouse, matching barn, and half a dozen outbuildings. The land and buildings had seen better days, but it was clear that those days were filled with vibrance and purpose. The bones of the house were solid, hand built with love, care, and lots of hard work. The air was tranquil and it felt like you were miles from anyone else. This WAS the one.
The process of acquiring the house was as challenging as finding it in the first place. Despite putting an offer in the week it was posted on Zillow, we were second in line and had to wait almost a full agonizing month before finding out that the other offer fell through. With keys in hand we set about the process of cleaning, demo, and planning our remodel. Our goal is to add a second story bump out that will give us much needed extra space. This combined with changing a few things on the first floor should give us four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The task before us is hard but we are inspired by the pioneers of old that made their start on this very farm almost eighty years ago. Our farm. Fettig farm.