Dad had a “boatshed” where he built three sailboats from lumber off the property. It was equipped with some of the most amazing tools and equipment. Besides all his electronic “stuff” he had the place filled with tools for building furniture and boats. (The big picture below is after we’d sold the big equipment, but you can see the size of the building.)
I would have liked to have kept more of his tools but when dad died I gave them to my nephew as I knew he’d make good use of them and because he had been very helpful caring for the place when dad could not. We would later sell the “farm” as well.
We had made lots of memories there. Grandpa’s huge old barn with all it’s treasures from the past, the old fishin’ hole where my kid’s learned to put a worm on a hook for fish so small it was hardly worth the bother but so much fun. My girls rode their first pony there. Then, there was the time, not but minutes after we’d arrived, my two year old grand-daughter gave us the scare of our life when she wandered off. How one of the kids had sense enough to call 911, I don’t know but they did and how amazed we were that despite it’s remote location, the volunteer firemen were there in an instant (daddy said they were all cousins). When we didn’t know what else to do, I went out to the center of the pasture and methodically checked the tree line and finally spotted her little blue outfit just as she was about to disappear into the dense woods. Since she didn’t speak yet, it was what we feared most.
Dad and his wife, Rita had built the place with their own hands. It wasn’t a big place, but as dad said, “it was paid for” and even though it was only supposed to be temporary until they got around to building a proper home up the hill a ways, that never happened. When Rita was dying, she looked up at me sadly and said,
“I never got my home. Your daddy built three boats, but I never got my home” My heart broke for her.
It was true. Daddy’s priorities were self serving, but it wasn’t a bad house.
When we visited we all fought to sleep on the porch anyway. It had a queen size bed reserved for guests.
As you can see the boat shed on the left is certainly bigger than their little one bedroom. The kitchen was a one butt kitchen, yet Rita canned their winter meals from their harvest in it and sometimes large batches she’d do in the boat-shed, hence the stove there. She made do.
When she passed, he regretted not having given her her house. He had always taken her for granted and now he missed her and after awhile I sensed he was losing his own spirit in despondency, so when I mentioned this to Russ, we packed up our life in Colorado, away from my kids and grand-kids to go be with him. He was 82.
When I had been there last I had mentioned to one of dad’s friends how I’d always wanted chickens. Well, unbeknownst to us, she purchased thirteen chicks, now waiting in a box for me at dad’s place when we got there. And…because chicks grow at an incredible rate, we had to scramble to make them suitable housing. Right quick, in the heat! Ugh! Until then, I temporarily housed them under the house.
With dad’s help we built our own first chicken coop and it was pretty cool. We decorated with old license plates and it was quite a celebration of our toils.
Believe it or not, the coop is on the left side of this picture, but just a few months after we’d left, it was overgrown with vines and bushes and no longer visible. Frequently in the south, whole houses, if not cared for, would get swallowed up by vegetation in short order, such was the case of our coop.
When we first moved there it was the year of Katrina. It was hot and humid and so unlike Colorado, which is dry, dry, dry. What a shock to our systems. Russ and I would go through 7 or 8 shirts in one day!
Russ and I had the most fun when we lived at dad’s “farm”. It was only two acres surrounded by my cousin’s property which was 360 acres. It was a beautiful piece of land with a stream running through it and a waterfall where I remember my mom saying she wanted a house built near. In those days, my grandparents still owned the land but soon after the divorce, dad left us and mom in California and moved back there, then got into a tiff with grandpa and grandpa made a deal with his brother and it was gone. The land we thought we’d inherit was gone. Dad was bitter about it. According to him there had been some questionable finagling on the part of my uncle in the transaction which created “bad blood” between dad’s uncle and him.
Fortunately, my cousins didn’t hold any animosity toward dad for being bitter but they knew and we got to use the land like it was ours as much as we wanted which wasn’t much. When dad got ill, my cousins would check on him when we couldn’t. Good people.
So here we are, in the middle of nowhere (even my cousins didn’t live there, they just grazed cattle on it), we had to build a coop for the growing chicks. Dad, being a jerk made fun of Russ for not knowing how to do “guy” things, like building stuff. Fortunately, Russ was quick to tell him, (and dad could tell he was pissed) “Look Gil, I’ve never done anything like this before. Instead of making fun of me, show me what to do! ”
Inside, I was cheering Russ for kindly putting daddy in his place, but I certainly couldn’t gloat about it. No way. Even though I was too old to get back handed, I could see him doing that and I could also see Russ and him getting into an irreversible tussle. Daddy was smart, but he was still a red neck.
Growing our own food was hard work but very rewarding. There’s nothing like fresh laid eggs, fresh veggies, greens and home grown corn.