Just a Farm Girl at Heart

A born and raised northeastern, I’ve lived in all kinds of houses (and a couple of hovels too) but never on a farm. It’s been a dream of mine to find a big old farmhouse and wake up to gather eggs from the hen house. Sure, I could do that here or even in Rhode Island, but it’s not the same.

A classic historic farmhouse with an attached barn is what draws me in, time and time again, and when Mr. EOS and I find ourselves in New Hampshire or Vermont, he knows he’s in for circling the backroads. And likely a call to a local realtor.

I browse alot of websites looking for farms and I’m amused at what passes for a farm today in real estate speak.

In searching that term today I found The Gentleman Farm that has no farm component to it at all, usually just a beautiful house. I found The Farms, the name of a new development. I found alot of Equestrian properties, but I don’t see that as a farm. I want a bone fide 18th century farmhouse with alot of land and a giant barn attached to the end of the house.

I don’t know what I’d do if I actually did find the farm of my dreams. Either of these would do in a pinch!

From the website LandVest

From the website LandVest

37 thoughts on “Just a Farm Girl at Heart

  1. I grew up in Virginia, around Charlottesville and the farms here are splendid. Very different than the traditional New Hampshire or Vermont farms, rarely is the barn attached here. More often the house is the statement, maybe from the days of having more help around who lived in outbuildings. Yankee farms I think of as having ma and pa working it, not often having staff. We Southerners don’t like to get our hands dirty, except to stir mint juleps.

    Pretty farms you chose. I think the problem today is the upkeep of a huge barn. Not to mention heating an old farmhouse.

  2. Midwest farms are real working farms, none so pretty as shown here. My dad was a dairy farmer like his father before him. He lost the farm during the 1990s, unable to make ends meet. Even all the equipment had to be auctioned off. You could come out to Indiana and buy 1000 acres for what I bet the houses in the photos cost. From my upbringing, a REAL farm means for profit – whether grain or daily or cattle.

  3. Come to Texas and buy a cattle ranch. We raise and sell bison. Had a bison burger lately? Or bison jerky?

    1. Lucky you, Pete. I have eaten bison/buffalo, while in Colorado. And a couple of times while in Wyoming. They are such beautiful animals. I’m too much of an eastern girl to live in Texas. Plus, my hair isn’t big enough! 🙂

  4. 2 to 3 million each! Just a tad high for our budget. ” Gentleman Farms ” huh? Love those photoshopped skys in the realtor pictures!! We get our eggs from an off the grid neighbor who hauls his water from our place.

    1. Idaho: Not in our budget either. I was just doing some dreaming. Make that, I was doing ALOT of dreaming.

      Raising chickens has become THE thing to do in this part of Westchester but it ruffled feathers of neighbors who didn’t like the roosters crowing at dawn. Now I believe there is a permit involved. (duh, this is NY.) In Rhode Island, eggs come from a neighbor who puts them out at the end of her driveway. Pay as much as you want. Honor system. Just this week, Mr. EOS plunked in a whole quarter for one egg he needed for his masterpiece meatloaf recipe. Why buy a dozen, he says, when you only need one?

  5. 1. Keep playing the Lottery, just ’cause neither you nor I won the Mega Millions doesn’t mean we won’t. Then you can buy a couple of farms.
    2. You can get a great Bison Burger in NYC at Ted’s the restaurant that Ted Turner owns in NY off 6th ave. Oh, his web site shows he’s got places all over, even in CT, South Windsor, a little far.
    http://www.tedsmontanagrill.com/

  6. IDAHO: A Gentleman Farm can best be described as a place that belongs to a hedge fund guy who has money in his pockets to burn so he buys a ton of land for privacy, restores an old house and puts in the requisite wine cellar and exercise room. The land may have a barn but it’s converted to a heated garage for his twenty classic cars. Getting the picture?

  7. “Billionaire Ted Turner owns just shy of three Rhode Islands, including the spectacular Vermejo Park Ranch straddling the border of New Mexico and Colorado, which at 590,823 acres, or 920 square miles, would cover a substantial portion of the 668,753-acre Ocean State. Turner’s other U.S. holdings include ranchland in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, as well as a 30,000-acre hunting preserve in Florida that he calls home, totaling 2 million acres.

    Turner tops the list of the nation’s largest private landowners, compiled by Forbes with the help of The Land Report, a publication that tracks large landowners and land sales.”

  8. Lou: I’d love to own a half-acre one day! As a city rat, I can only dream of mowing the lawn and raking leaves. Turner gets my vote for buying and saving so much of America’s landscape.

    His burger joint is right by my office so I eat there often, probably too often. His George’s Cadillac burger is a heart attack on a bun but when you don’t think about it that way, it’s meat perfection. A side of cold beer.

  9. I’m way out in God’s acre in Washington and am always happy when some wealthy person buys up land to save it from development. If I had all the money in the world, I’d do the same. I heard Oprah say that she buys land because no one is ever going to make more. Solid reasoning, if you have Oprah’s kind of cash.

    I’ve met Ted Turner a couple if times at a rancher’s convention and he’s a regular joe, loves to talk horses, tractors, land, bison.

  10. idaho: the biggest insult to a barn is when it’s reclaimed by ‘a gentleman’. there’s a place near me in greenwich, ct that was once a fabulous old working barn. some dude turned it into a guest house and wine cellar. ugh. i suppose you could look at it from the point of view of recycling the old barn wood and not letting something of beauty fall down but this ‘restoration” is a crying shame, imo. the builder posted photos on his website. you decide:
    http://www.heritagebarns.com/finishedDetail.php?recordID=2

  11. We have so many pretty barns and farms for sale that go begging for someone to love and live in them. Our daughter and her husband bought a beautiful farm a few years back and had The Barn People of Windsor, VT do the work. They’d never ruin a barn like that Heritage Barn company did. Check out their Photo gallery on the link. I give them high marks for their craftsmanship.
    http://www.thebarnpeople.com/index.html

  12. I take issue with Austin’s comment about the Greenwich renovation. I’d rather see that old barn reused, even if it’s not to your taste, than I would see it fall down or worse, hauled away in a dumpster. I do agree that it makes it look less like a barn and more like a home, but two points to this owner for seeing its value.

  13. My go-to authority for all things barn, for sale and otherwise is the Barn Journal. No glossy pictures on the home pages but links to solid websites.

    http://www.thebarnjournal.org/resource/index.html

    I’m with Jane in this argument. The Greenwich “barn” may no longer resemble a barn but it saved all those beautiful timbers from sure demolition.

  14. I was always under the impression that a “gentleman’s farm” consisted of a big wonderful house, an assortment of outbuildings, the amount of acreage the gentleman wanted, and just enough–no more, no less–actual “farming” activity as was needed for the property to qualify as a farm for tax purposes.

    These properties had a wonderful country feel to them, but actually they were closer to being suburban than rural. In the greater Philadelphia area you’d see them in places like St David’s, Paoli, West Chester and (ahem) Greenville, DE … all within reasonable commuting distance to Philadelphia or Wilmington, for the “farmer’s” day job.

    Of course, that was decades ago, and many tax code changes ago. Does anybody else recall this definition?

  15. I’m a member of the National Trust for Historical Preservation. They have a great Barn Again program that helps farmers and ranchers find ways to maintain and use historic barns.

    As an architect who specializes in reclaiming and restoring barns, my aesthetic sensibilities are offended by the Greenwich barn and so I think we can agree with Austin that what this owner DID with the barn wasn’t all that pleasing but the soul of a barn is its timbers and it looks like he did a good job keeping and highlighting those.

  16. Betty: I’m not sure what the actual definition of a gentleman’s farm is. I think of it as what might once been a working farm but bought out by someone who clips coupons and not lawn trimmings. I do associate it with CT more often than NH or VT, and maybe VA too. The farms by me in DE, at least back in the 50s and 60s, worked the land, hayed it or grew corn and tomatoes for all the farmstands.

    I like your definition and will have to do some research. Or maybe someone out there can help us out.

  17. Betty: to me, a gentleman’s farm is when the “farmer” has an independent income and farms for pleasure. He may have horses or cattle or even hay and vegetables but it doesn’t RELY on that to make his money. He farms as a hobby.

  18. To Hoosier: Some of the most beautiful farms and barns in the USA are in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Huge dairy barns that are as long as the corn is high. I grew up in north central Indiana where all the families around us were generations-old farmers. I’m sorry your father lost his farm but he’s not alone. That’s no consolation to your family but almost all farmers struggle today unless they become a tourist venue.

    There was a PBS series a few years back that followed the life of a farmer and his family. I don’t remember the name of it but it really showed how hard it is to stay ahead of the revenuers!

  19. Yes, Born a Hoosier, we do have some large dairy farms here but I think most easterners romanticize the farm and barn as a place to be a gentleman. Round Barn Bill put it very well. Any full-time farmer will tell you a barn means getting up before the sun, milking cows, mucking out stalls, gathering eggs, and paying the bills.

    I don’t begrudge EOS for wanting a farm but her version of a living on a farm and mine are polar opposites.

  20. Seeing the Greenwich Barn gives new meaning of the words “Guest House” in my mind. How the heck can they even afford to heat the place! Was that barn part of Conyer’s farm?

    Having been involved in agriculture all my life it is sad to see the small family farms becoming a thing of the past. It’s get bigger or get out. Small farm towns are dying and we are losing a way of life that we can never recover.

  21. Sound Beacher, FYI

    Rumor has it that Mega Millions winner who lives about 40 miles down the road isn’t completely divorced so her husband is getting half! Ha, Ha.

  22. My wife and I run a working dairy farm in upstate New York, giving up Wall Street jobs that ate at our insides like parasites. However, those high-paying jobs did give us the financial ability to follow our dream of being farmers. It’s ten times harder than any job I’ve ever had, it requires many more hours than are in a day, and it takes a good deal of money to keep the buildings heated, the farm equipment running, and the animals healthy.

    What has kept us in the green is creating a marketable product from our herd. Cheeses. Butter. Goats milk. All with our own label and all selling well. Right before we moved we watched the classic Diane Keaton movie Baby Boom where she loses her job in the advertising world and moves to Vermont and accidently comes upon the idea of selling organic baby food. We took that same principle and ran with it.

    The hardest part of the venture was buying the farm out from a fourth-generation farmer who could no longer keep his business afloat. But when he understood we wanted to keep it as a working farm and not turn it into a day spa, he was relieved. Today, he is our full-time consultant, helping us at every twist and turn of managing livestock and running a farm.

    Idaho is spot-on with regard to losing so many farms and farm towns across the USA. They are the backbone of the country and we are proud to count ourselves as members of that vibrant community.

  23. quite the good conversation here about farms and barns. i’ll capitulate about the greenwich barn and give the owner the credit the rest of you feel he needs for saving the timbers but i still feel he bastardized the exterior by adding a chi-chi sunroom.

    idaho: i don’t feel i should say where this barn is because the owner might not like its location divulged.

  24. There is a lot of truth to the old joke: What would you do if you had a million dollars?—

    I’d farm till it was all gone!

    Robin, Artisan cheese etc. has become a rather large cottage industry nationwide with quite a few operations in Washington State. One of the larger farm/cheese operations recently closed it’s doors due to unclean practices. Their products were very popular. Here’s hoping you don’t have that type of problem.

    http://www.sallyjacksoncheeses.com/index.htm

  25. Late to this discussion, I want to add to what Robin had to say. The farmers I know diversify, diversify, diversify. They take in NYC yuppies for a “farm experience weekend”. They have hay rides and sell pumpkins at Halloween. The grow and sell blueberries for picking. They create amazing maize mazes. It seems the only way to survive today.

    Besides being a faithful EOS reader, I read a blog called The Beginning Farmer by a man in Iowa who had a dream. It’s quite interesting.

    http://thebeginningfarmer.blogspot.com/

  26. We belong to the New York State Farmstead Artisan Cheesemakers Guild. Here are some of our friends and neighbors doing the same.
    http://www.nyfarmcheese.org/cheesemakers.asp

    Idaho: You betcha that we worry about keeping clean. My wife is the director of cleanliness and I think she has the harder job, maintaining to the letter of the code, each and every vat and container. We don’t want to end up like Sally Jackson.

    Catherine, you are right. We do all of the above, except we draw the line at having people like we used to be up here at the house. 🙂

  27. Idaho: that’s every farm man’s fear. Great for 20+ years then wham, shut down. Ecoli. Thanks for the links, I think.

  28. We have friends in Wisconsin whose farm was shut down last year when the cherries they sold caused a half-dozen people to fall ill. They were able to clean out the pitting area but were never able to recover from all the bad press, even in an area that is famous worldwide for its sweet cherries. It CAN and DOES happen in an instant. Idaho is right.

  29. Hoosier: after I read your comment I couldn’t make my fingers work fast enough to click the website of a great Wisconsin cherry farm to make sure it wasn’t they who got shut down. Phew. Long time friends of ours summer in Door County and their go-to for cherries is Seaquist Orchards in Ellison Bay. What a pie it makes. Now I’ve gone and made myself hungry for cherry pie. Drat.

    Seriously though Hoosier, your point is so well taken about places not being able to recover from bad press. Things can go wrong but if someone makes every effort to revamp or clean, then I think they should be given a second chance.

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