First Night At Bottle Tree Farm

How to begin…I am sitting in an Adirondack chair in the small living room of a cottage built some time in the mid 1800s.  It sits just behind a larger house built in 1854.  They are joined by a variety of other buildings in various states of disrepair and they all share about 20 acres of land in Sussex County, Virginia, just over the town line of Waverly, Virginia.  And, as of Thursday morning, my husband and I own all of it.  It is something of a surprise since our original plan for 2010 was to build a house on some property we own along a creek that we have owned for years.  But sticker shock over the price of building a new house made us hesitate.  In that moment, this property came on the market and my husband discovered it as he updated the website of his client, the realtor who was listing it.

That was some time last summer.  We spent several hot days watching workman check out almost every inch and tell us everything that was wrong with it.  None of the six chimneys are safe to use and one may have something dead in it.  (“We saw lots of flies,” said the chimney guy.” There was water and termite damage in the front rooms.  All the plumbing would have to be replaced.  The heating and cooling system didn’t work at all.

But it had a beautiful, solid metal roof and hard wood floors.  The front doors were carved wood and one of the large front rooms was all ready to become my library with built in bookshelves.  The front porch was shaded by a huge magnolia tree and the back windows looked out over rolling fields and sloping barn roofs.  It was almost love at first sight.  Despite all the problems–my father laughingly referenced the old movie The Money Pit–we just knew we needed to preserve this property and make it a working farm.

So here we are…camping in the cottage as we start the project.  We brought the Adirondack chair from home and I drug a few other chairs up from the milking parlor where they were stashed along with all sorts of other junk.  We have electricity but no running water.  After a couple hours of scrubbing, the refrigerator revealed that it was almost new and the ice froze quickly.  So there will be coffee tomorrow, my only requirement for camping.