Thursday, November 1, 2012

Haunted House

See? Orbs. Orbs = Ghosts

There have been stories that the house is haunted. If it is 200 years old, chances are people have died there. We know that one of the previous owners is buried about 200 yards away at the St. Johns Lutheran Church. We know of four people that have died there. Previous owners have told us they thought the house might be haunted.

I took the picture above yes, while Ghon was tearing up floors and pulling down drywall from the ceiling. Yes, there was tons of dust. But I intentionally took a picture of a cloud of dust (which I will not share here, as it looks like I snapped a pic of Ghon's butt) - and guess what? NO ORBS. None. Not a one in a picture of a dust cloud.  
It's not scientific proof, but still, the house could be haunted. So we are having a ghost hunter come to the house. Ghon has a friend from high school whose husband is into ghost hunting and has some of the equipment to read for paranormal activity. Part of me is completely freaked out and part of me is pretty excited. Knowing there could be some spirits around, I wanted to sage the place the moment we took ownership. However, I agreed to wait and see who was there. Now I just have to cross fingers that if there is someone there I'm not too excited about, I can wave the sage in their general direction and maybe keep the others? Who knows. All I can say is stay tuned for a blog this weekend about our ghost hunting experience.

Oh Sandy, the sky is falling!

October 29, 2012. The day "Frankenstorm" or hurricane Sandy hit. Ghon had off work today, and I took most of the day off. I wasn't keen on the commute, I worked a ton of hours over the weekend and I wasn't expecting power to stay around for ever.  Ghon headed to the farm early to work while I finished a few work tasks.

We had two contractors come out today. The first was the same roofer that I saw on Saturday. He took advantage of the rain to check for leaks in the attic, and we were in the clear. He gave Ghon a rough estimate for some repair work and was out the door.

Before I arrived, Ghon rolled up the carpet from the dining room. The house has an odor of old stale pet and old stale house. Removing carpets has been a big help - and have been revealing some awesome hardwood floors.

We moved on to the living room where we each tackled a small section of remaining carpet. Carpet that's been in place for over 25 years and nailed in place. Huge nails. Whose heads often break when you yank them out. Not fun.  After removing the carpet and the disgusting smelling padding, it was on to the plywood on the floor. Or wooden planks as one section was finished in. Fingers crossed for some exciting wood under there.

Master Demolition Man prying out floor boards.

Several layers on top - and we think we see hardwood!
This is the view from the living room to the dining room. The French doors separate the rooms and also are the dividing line between original house (circa late 1700's) and the 'newer' section (circa late 1800's). See that white stuff in the ceiling?

And there it is - original hardwood!

It's the original wall - log cabin logs! Crazy. See the vertical lines? Ax marks. Someone that we haven't figured out yet cut trees and assembled this house - and here is the handiwork and proof nearly 200 years later.

So much dirt, dust, and who knows what else flying around during demo work - must breathe clean air!
Dining room floor under all the carpet. 4 Shades. Natural in the middle, covered with burgundy/brown, orange trim, and oh, look. There was hexagon curio in the corner at one point - floor was purple back then.

The second contractor we had out gave us some advice on fixing the sagging ceiling. Our sky really is falling!

The living room ceiling was very low in the middle - about 6' 3-1/4". In the far left, it was 6' 8" diagonally to the right, the height measured 6' 6". The floor in one of the upstairs bedrooms also dipped significantly. The contractor found one of the support beams cracked and recommended a fix to reinforce the ceiling as well as raise it. We are waiting on the estimate for the repair. He also gave us information for a reasonable dumpster service - we are going to need it for all the carpet, drywall and other stuff we are trashing.

Destruction of the ceiling and some of the floor. See the orbs? What do you think - dust or ghosts? More on that later.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Now and Then

At some point soon, I'll have either Ghon, or his notes, nearby to do a post about the history of the house. We know who lived there in the late 1800's, and we've traced deed transfer back even further. Oh, by we, I mean Ghon. He's been a spending a lot of time at the local library archives and at the courthouse tracing the history.

We applied to have the house listed on the historic register. A representative from the VA Department of Historic Resources walked through the house with us on October 19. She identified elements of the architecture that suggest one section of the house was built in the late 1700's, the other section in the late 1800's. We documented everything we had, but it wasn't enough. We were told Thursday (Oct 25) that we didn't qualify and our application was denied. There is still a chance to do more research and try again; but we just aren't sure if we will at this point.

A brief recent history:
Ghon's father, Thomas Ghon Eckley bought the property in 1985. He lived there until he died in 2010. At that time, Ghon's stepbrother and his family moved in to help take care of things and his step-mother, whose health was declining. She died four months after her husband. This year, the opportunity presented to purchase the property and house - so we jumped on it. Tons of paperwork and the quickest - and most entertaining closing I've ever attended - later, we own the home and just shy of 45 acres. 

See the big rectangle in the middle? Kinda looks like Oklahoma? That's the farm. Hummingbird Farm. The house is in the far right corder and trees, lots of trees all around us.

But wait, we don't just own the home - we now own a ton of stuff in it. Mind you, older people are pack rats. To rephrase that, children of the depression appreciate things, and value what they have. It's not just used and destroyed. The attic is packed full of things - I haven't even ventured up there yet. There is a small room that leads to the attic - and it is full of 'stuff'. The most important finds have been pictures. Tons of family pictures, and pictures of Ghon as a toddler that we never knew were around. That is cool; and an entire post can, and probably will be, dedicated to the cool finds.

Ghon's father (TG) did a lot of work to the home over the years. We were hoping to find some cool pictures of what the house looked like back before he changed things (removing doors, windows, closing in porches, removing stairways).

Printed January 1986
Ghon's stepmother (#1) Kate

TG working on the house - October 1989

August 1990
The upper porch has been screened in, doors and windows removed in the front and replaced,
shutters and a coat of paint added.
October 2012
The bottom porch is screened in and a new outer porch added. The storm door was relocated and new landscaping added.
The huge tree in the front is a walnut tree. If you think acorns are tricky to walk on, try tripping on a walnut.

I kinda like the look circa 1990. I would like to keep the upper porch screened in. The door to the porch is in the master bedroom and I'd love to sit out there at night or leave the door open and not worry as much about bugs. Ghon wants the old front steps back, but probably not with the green indoor/outdoor covering.

The house desperately needs a fresh paint job. Very early stages of picking a color scheme. I'd love a neutral color with a very bold front door color. Just not sure yet.

We did get a little good news today. Ghon thought the roof was going to need relacing. We had a contractor come out today and provide an estimate. While will probably benefit from a new roof, the need is not as urgent as we feared. Contractor's opinion is that there are few other projects more important than replacing the roof, like fixing window sills, removing the broken gutters, and trimming back that big ol' walnut tree.

And if the reference wasn't caught, Ghon was cool with the name. So were his friends on facebook. The name is now Hummingbird Farm!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I spent about two and a half hours today cleaning out the house of "stuff" left behind. A local organization is having a fundraising yard sale, and I figured what better way to get rid of the stuff without having to haul it - and it would be helpful! So I boxed books and knicknacks. And took down pictures. That's when it went downhill.

Stink bugs! They were unreal! I took a framed print off the wall and I screamed a little on the inside. (Note to self: I should have just screamed out loud, I was there alone. Next time...) There were at least 20 of those nasty buggers on the back of the picture and probably 25 more on the wall.

Seriously. That's how it looked. Shudder.

They were everywhere. At least two pictures were like that. A third, yeah, it was worse. I think I'm going to have stink bug nightmares. I'm actually contemplating Ghon's suggested solution of letting the chickens in the house - they enjoy a fine delicacy of stink bug.

Then, I spotted a window covered in ladybugs. Now those, I can handle. But then the stinkbugs came to visit and I was just disgusted again.

This evening, I had to take the kids back to meet people from the organization doing the pickup. The bug situation kept getting better.

Many years ago, I made up a little tune. It goes like this:

I don't like spiders
I don't like spiders
They're creepy and they're crawly
and they have too many legs
I don't like spiders cause they make me say "hey!"
I don't like spiders.....

So yeah, I still don't like spiders. Tonight, in the dark, I tried to figure out how to change the lightbulbs on the porch lights so the people hauling my junk could actually see. I had enough light by my keychain pen light to determine:
  1. Changing light bulbs in relative darkness is just stupid.
  2. Trying to not appear afraid in front of your kids is a tad overrated.
  3. These little lights of mine really don't want to shine, as the fixture appears to have no way to open to get to the light bulbs.
  4. Really disgusting spiders live on the lights.
Hi! Turn on the lights and I'll eat you! Or better yet, I'll give you the eebie jeebies the rest of the night!

After seeing the same ridiculousness of spider on each porch light, I decided that Ghon could fix the lights.

Yeah, let's see who wears the spider killing pants in this house!

Seriously. Spiders are just gross. If all spiders looked like this, no way would they get a bad rap!
Boo! Oh, so spooky! Nosh, nosh, nosh.

So I spent the afternoon with the stinkers and the ladies, the evening with the spiders, and the group never showed up. I called after they were 30minutes late - thinking, "hey, the drive and house are dark - maybe they missed the place." No, they just didn't come. Reschedule for tomorrow. At least the hard part is done I guess - tons of junk and furniture piled up and ready to go.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What's in a name

After a Facebook poll and minimal investigation, blogger/blogspot wins the title of the official blogging tool for the farmhouse renovations.

The irony? I picked at random a background, truly not seeing what the picture included. Once I created the space and took a first look, I had to laugh - hummingbirds. While Ghon and I were still dating, I remember visiting his father and stepmother and seeing hummingbirds for the first time. Speedy little suckers nearly swarmed the place. I always associated hummingbirds with their house.

Ghon has done quite a bit of research at the courthouse and local library archives to determine the age of the house and if there is any historical significance (more about that on another post). The 'worthless' (as Ghon calls him) volunteer at the archives insists that the Historical Society doesn't care about homes without names and he won't find any information without a homestead name. Since Ghon would like to turn the property further into a working farm (beyond the chickens), he's been bouncing around names, all ending in Farm.

I just might propose Hummingbird Farm. What do you think?