We haven’t talked much about the lay of the land around the house. As you remember, it sits on the side of the ridge – not quite half way up. The front is about quarter acre, with big – and I mean huge – white oak trees with a nice size black walnut on the north side. Small elderberry trees lined the drive on the southwest. We never did try to make wine, though it was the topic of conversation each summer when the fruit fell!
As we move up the ridge, the acreage is split in half – the south is open meadow and the north is trees. Wonderful trees that we will talk about in a later post.
And just to remind you again that the property was as neglected as the house. Garbage had been liberally spread over the property and it had been allowed to go to rack and ruin. Overgrown with bindweed and blackberry vine, there were poison ivy vines that would rival any you have ever seen. Trash trees and undergrowth covered the hillside. It was so bad that we hadn’t actually walked the property. We had driven up and around in the 4 wheel drive truck, but it was almost an inpenetrable mess.
Not only had the plant life taken over, the actual land had moved to settle against the house. You can imagine that years of neglect and years of erosion had allowed the top soil to move toward the bottom of the ridge heading to the hollow. And the house just happened to be in the way of a portion of this slow moving earth. The ridge leaned heavy against the back of the house along the laundry, kitchen and dining room wall.
We were fortunate that Bob had worked with a man that owned heavy equipment, so after a phone call, we had a very large bulldozer on the property. He cut out the hillside so that we had a flat area behind that house and moved the soil to level out the south side where we would build a shed. After his hard labor, the ridge cut out was about 14 feet from the house, nicely contoured so that the water would drain away. This is the route that our little family of deer would take each day and would occasionally peak in the windows.
We added a door from the laundry room to this new area. This was the door the dogs would take into the yard or I would take when I walked up the ridge to the pond.
In the very early days, we were lucky that Bob was at the house as the county road crew scraped the gravel road in front of the house. He asked and they agreed to scrape our driveway. This took out the giant ditch that our car had almost foundered in that first visit! They would scrape the drive each time they came by for several years until the drive was perfect.
After we moved into the house, we added a porch across the front, rock walls and azalea beds, stone steps down into the yard and many more improvements to the land. These we will talk about in later posts.
Until next time …….
I so enjoy reading your stories about “the shack” as I feel I have found a kindred spirit in you, dear Kathleen. Our acreage is such an overgrown jungle right now, the grade around the house is all wrong and stands in water when it rains (I’m so tired of muddy boots), and the driveway – or what vaguely passes as a driveway – is quickly turning into a long, long, semi-circular rutted pit *UGH* I’m having a hard time trying to find someone to deliver a few large dump truck loads of gravel – I didn’t think it would be this difficult… as “they” say… “ahhhh, the joys of homeownership”
We’re not focusing so much on the landscaping right now; just trying to get the interior habitable. But, if I don’t find someone to gravel the driveway soon, I won’t be able to get in to work on the house anymore =-o