Home: A Place To Live Your Life

When you look for a new home you are really looking for a place to live your life. There is a commercial I see on television that is about purchasing a new home. It reminds me of the time when we were looking for a home.

Living in the country and operating a farm, limits where you are able to move. My husband was a dairy farmer who milked cows twice a day. He had to be close to the farm. We dreamed for a while even looking at houses a little farther from the farm, but in the end we knew that was not the right decision for us.

When we married I had an apartment in Jamestown. The older couple who were my landlords graciously told me that my new husband and I were welcome to continue to live there without any increase in rent. When you are renting and find someone who is gentle with your property that is important. I am sure that is why they made the offer they did.

That was not the answer, either. It was too far from the farm to be practical. I would not see my husband any time except for nights. We bought a mobile home and prepared to move it to the home farm beside his parents’ home. For about six months we actually lived with his parents.

The mobile home worked for a while, but it seemed to be getting smaller and smaller. Once we had two children it was next to impossible. That was at the same time that my stepbrother gave my children baby chicks for Easter. All I needed was a couple chicks to make room for.

The farm that is Hickory Heights, was put up for sale at auction. The day before the sale I came up to look it over. It needed a lot of work, but it had good bones. I could picture our family living here. There were plenty of bedrooms so each of the children could have one of their own.

My husband got the winning bid. I was thrilled when he handed me the keys to the house. I took the children and came up to look around. We finally had a house to live in. I could not see the flaws the house had, only its potential to be a good home that was close to the farm.

That first year we lived pretty rough. We had no furniture since we lived in a mobile home and everything came with the trailer. We needed everything except beds for the children. Each of them had a bed. Our first night here we slept in the living room. There was an old iron bed left behind so we put a mattress on that.

We could not really move upstairs. Most of the bedrooms had no ceilings. The roof had leaked. Until we fixed the roof we slept downstairs. Moving the beds to the second floor was a big deal. The children were used to sleeping in the same room so we continued that pattern. We took the small bedroom at the rear of the house that actually still had a ceiling.

The adventures at Hickory Heights had begun. We ate at a card table in the kitchen. I found part of an old Hoosier cupboard in one of the out buildings and asked my husband to bring it in so I had some storage and a surface to work on. My stove was a Home Comfort wood stove with the warming oven on top. I had never used a wood stove, but I was game for anything at that point that helped us live here.

I not only used the wood stove, I managed quite well. I canned, I baked and I cooked. It was also our only source of heat that first fall. There is a television show called “Pioneer Woman.” I daresay that I was more of a pioneer woman than she ever dreamed of being.

Hickory Heights has been my one and only home. We fixed the place one room at a time. First, we fixed very basic things. We drilled a well so that we had good water. We found old storm windows to help keep the place warm. We had a furnace installed. Once those things were in place we were ready to decorate. My mother contributed a couch that had been hers when she married. She even had it reupholstered for us. I found a second-hand kitchen table and chairs. I also found a feudal oak dining room set that went really well with the beautiful oak woodwork that was here. Next, I found a bedroom set at a garage sale. I was unable to transport it on my own, but I took all of the dresser drawers so people would realize that it was sold.

I cannot think of any happier time in my life than those early years. We were young and in love. We had a house to live in. My husband had a good job. We had two beautiful children. Life was good.

I did not think of life at that time as being difficult. I looked at the challenges as adventures. Each day was a triumph. Something else was done. I made a list of projects that needed to be done. There was something therapeutic about being able to cross things off.

It was years before I could say that all of the projects were done. Those of you who own a home know that the work is never done. Even after my husband’s death there were structural things to deal with. Those first years were a challenge. I had to hire everything done.

The work my husband did to create a home for us is his legacy. As I look around my home I see his wonderful carpentry skills everywhere.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.