The Old House at White Flint Farm

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When I was a boy we called the old “home house” on our farm “the old house.” That name has stuck over the years and it is fitting I suppose.  The part that remains was built, we think, in the 1880s, being the final addition to an even older and larger house that is now gone.

It’s a simple house, but it has character.  And sentimental value of course.

We considered trying to renovate it and make it our residence, but we weren’t sure it could be saved and we didn’t want to risk sinking a lot of money into it and not ending up with a home we could live in.

The place needed a little work

The place needed a little work

So we built a new house on the farm, intending possibly to renovate the old house when we retired.  But one thing led to another and without planning to do it so soon we renovated the house and made it livable.

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Of course we didn’t need two houses on the farm and we struggled to figure out what to do with it.  Friends of ours lived in it for a couple of years.  We let a family that was between jobs and without a home live there a while.  Our interns live there two weeks during the summer.  We’ve loaned it out to our neomonastic friends in town for weekend planning retreats.  Missionaries have stayed there to decompress for a few days. A couple of years ago a band stayed there for a week to finish work writing the songs for their new album.  But most of the time it just sits there empty.

In our quest to find a good use for the place, this year we’re going to try something new.  It’s now available for “farm stays,” a form of agri-tourism, like a B&B without the breakfast.

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Whitney photos

Folks who stay will be able to enjoy the sights around the farm, go fishing and hiking, and generally escape the rat race for a while.

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It’s an experiment and we’ll see how it goes.

Our hope is that it will be a fun and relaxing getaway for folks who want to unwind in the country.

Whatever the result of this experiment, we’re glad the Old House will be around for a few more generations.

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33 comments on “The Old House at White Flint Farm

  1. avwalters says:

    This is all the rage where we live–it’s the airbnb way to finance retirement. Originally the log cabin we’re building was supposed to end up as an interim home, while we built the more sustainable passive solar home (not much bigger.) Then the log cabin would have converted to a short term rental. We’re not so sure now. Things have taken much longer to do and, when this is finished, we’ll see how much more building we have in us.
    In any event, I think this is a wonderful addition to the farm. If I could see any free time in my future, I’d consider coming for a visit.

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    • Bill says:

      Cherie is listing us on airbnb as well as on a farm stay site. We’ll see how it goes. It would be nice to make the place more useful, and to give people a chance to enjoy it.

      We did this renovation project back at the same time (and with the same mentality) as we were putting up the board fences. I doubt I’d do it if I was making the decision today, but it did fulfill a childhood dream. Having said that, I think it’s good to make these kinds of places options for people looking for some time away (as opposed to visiting a theme park, for example).

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        You have a unique angle–the farm stay–that ties in nicely with both your blog and Cherie’s. If you’d be willing to let guests tag along for chores, even better. You could break your routines into seasonal descriptions–early Spring would include planting and baby goats! Summer, some harvesting, perhaps a barbecue of farm raised pork and fall, big harvesting and some canning. People have forgotten these lost arts of domestic connection to the land–and this would be a lovely reminder of another time…. or a now-time with a slower, richer set of values. As for winter, I don’t know, give them whiskey and big stack of books.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. shoreacres says:

    Just beautiful, inside and out. And that kitchen is glorious. I like a white kitchen, and plenty of light. And then there’s this. League City, Texas, to Keeling, Virginia:

    Mileage:
    1183.6 miles
    Time:
    18 hrs 12 min

    One of these days. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Thanks Linda. It would be a great treat for us if you ever decide to make that trip.

      Your post reminds me of a conversation I had with a British couple in Charleston WV many years ago. They came to the States for a visit. Landed in New York and rented a car, planning to drive to Texas and see the country along the way. The woman said (imagine this in a delightful English accent), “But your country is so vast.” They made it as far as Charleston, liked the place and put down roots.

      In 18 hours a person could probably drive clear across Europe.

      Like

  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, yesterday was a day of hard labor at Terra Nova Gardens which left little time for blogging. Over the last three years a brush pile has been accumulating from the clearing of the garden area there. Yesterday was the day to rent a chipper and grind up the pile into wood chips to be used in the garden. When all was said and done I think maybe three or four cubic yards of woods chips was in the pile.

    Yesterday’s post about pizza was great. Unfortunately, I haven’t made the transition into home made pizza yet. Most of my pizza comes from the Bible study night dinner before the study. It’s always from the local pizza place in town. My most surprising experience with pizza was back in the early 70s when I was stationed in Germany during the Vietnam war. My wife and I rented a room in a house owned by an older German woman. We kept talking about pizza. She had another young girl border that rented a room as well so the German home owner and the young girl wanted to surprise us with a pizza. Something must have gotten lost in the translation and we were presented with a giant short cake base filled to capacity with fresh fruits. It was quite delicious but just not what we had in mind for a pizza. We never told them that wasn’t an American pizza and raved about how good it was. 🙂

    You have done a marvelous job on restoring the family (old house) house. That had to take a lot of time and effort. I would be seriously impressed to be able to stay there a few days. My grand mother’s house on my mother’s side is still standing on the farm but entirely too unsafe to even go inside. It hasn’t been lived in for about 50 years and of course it’s all but falling down. It was a grand old house at one time but it’s time has passed and it’s dying a slow death. The orchard that surrounded the house is all gone and the gardens that had included flowers are all back to wild weeds and tree saplings. It’s very sad to see what used to be a thriving household of six now sitting empty slowly reverting back to the wild prairie that is was oh so many generations ago. As with so many farms in Nebraska, the land is now rented from my uncle and farmed by a farmer with mega machinery and the home place will continue to deteriorate with time. This year my uncle and aunt because age and health issues moved to a home in town because it was just too difficult for them to live on the family farm any more.

    Have a great Old House planning day.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Glad you had a productive day in the garden. I envy all those wood chips.

      The story of your family’s farmhouse and farm is a common one these days isn’t it? Happens here too. It’s sad to see those places, the product of so much hard work and care, just crumble and collapse. On this farm we were able to save the house, one cabin and a couple of barns. There were many other outbuildings (including a stable and a large pack house) and small houses that were too far gone to save. We added the rear portion of the house (shown in the picture) to give the place a kitchen and bathrooms (which were separate from the house back in the old days). There was a large two story log house there to which the front part had been added, but it too was too far gone to save.

      Like

  4. What a lovely house … love the back porch image, especially. So many older homes pass away from old age, no one to revitalize them. You’ve done a beautiful job, and the view looks outstanding!

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  5. Farmstay is a great idea, and the house looks beautiful inside and out. I too love the porch swing out back – just what I think of when I think South.

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  6. Katie Rosson says:

    This is a great idea! I think people are beginning to move towards taking vacations that don’t include amusement parks and enjoying the slower pace. We have never been fans of things like that but we have always been fans of B&B and outdoor excursions. I’m looking forward to what comes of this and other wonderful things on the farm.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Thanks Katie. Back when we traveled, we were like you. We enjoyed the natural sights (and relaxation) more than thrill-rides and cities.

      If it turns out people want to come stay here that will be good. And if they don’t, that’s OK too. 🙂

      Like

  7. Sue says:

    Wow-you guys did a fantastic job on the house. I’m always so happy to see old homes saved.
    I hope it works out well for you.
    Where will you be listing–on airbmb, vrbo, or something else?

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Thanks Sue. Yes on airbnb, as well as a farmstay site. Cherie is handling the details on that but I’ll post about it when it’s finalized.

      Like

  8. bobraxton says:

    The horizontal oval with he and she (she and he) photographs reminds me of the one in the house of my maternal grandparents (where my mother grew up as oldest of nine) – the great-grandparents of my mother (now 91 years of age): Sabert W. Thompson and his wife Luzenia Blair (Thompson), parents of her grandfather Robert (“Grandpa Bob”).

    Like

  9. Cindi says:

    It’s beautiful! And what a great opportunity for others to experience a little piece of history and relaxation.

    Like

  10. It’s absolutely beautiful. You can see the love in the quality of the restoration. 🙂

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  11. Wow! I hope to read more about this venture. Very nice.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Thanks. Once we’ve finalized everything and there are listing, I’ll probably post about that. I’m pretty sure we’re going to add a page to our website about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. DM says:

    What a beautiful place to get away to! I want to visit 😉

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Thanks DM. We’d love to meet you in person, so come on out whenever you can. I just wish I had a fraction of your carpentry skills that I could’ve used on the place.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. BeeHappee says:

    Oh, we are rally looking forward visiting you guys one day, this year yet hopefully. 🙂 House looks beautiful, although we would be just fine with pitching a tent as long as there are pigs, mud, goats, fields and gardens. That’s the selling point right there. 🙂

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  14. Farmgirl says:

    What a wonderful idea! What a beautiful house. You two certainly brought it back to its glory days.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I’m sure some of our neighbors thought we were crazy to try to save the place. It was in really bad shape (worse than the pictures show). It was a nice feeling to see it looking good again.

      Like

  15. Gorgeous home and you two did an amazing job restoring it. I can’t believe you don’t live in it yourselves! Your “new[er]” house must be pretty comfortable for you to pass up moving into “the old house”. I think the farm stay idea is great. We hope to offer them as well someday but I’m pretty sure we won’t be putting people up in such splendor 😏.
    We stayed in “agritourismos” when we went to Italy – it was great fun, the ancient farmhouses were beautiful (although some of the “modernized” bathrooms were pretty funny) and the food was SPECTACULAR!
    I wish you great success with the farm stay – I’m pretty sure it will be a popular spot!

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Thanks! We’ve talked about possibly moving into the old house when we’re older. The biggest downside is that it is hard to keep warm in the winter. Our new house is much more energy efficient that way. And we heat with wood, which we aren’t doing in the old house so the heating costs are very high there in the winter.

      The old house is actually a modest place. Basically four rooms with a kitchen and small bathrooms added on. Cherie has tried to make it a nice combination of rustic and pretty. I think she’s done a nice job. But some folks will prefer more of a hunting cabin style and others will want more luxury. We’ll see how it goes…

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  16. EllaDee says:

    I think it’s wonderful you fixed up the old house (it’s lovely), and that you have and are sharing it. Many people are curious to see “how the other half lives” or to revisit their or family’s pasts. We are considering similar on a much smaller scale as one of our further-in-the-future plans. We love our area and would like to share it and our local produce and philosophies with people.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      As others have commented, farm-stays are popular now. People need places for quiet retreats from the noise and crowds. I’ll bet you’d find that there would be demand for something like that on your place too.

      Like

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