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Harvesting wonderful materials from an old house

By John R Dykers
Posted Tuesday, March 5, 2013

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Siler City, NC - Perhaps there is another way, Maclyn Humphrey. You might join with us in making the land agriculturally productive. Don't know where your farm is or how many acres or what soil types or water sources etc. but by joining with us or other farmers nearby, you may be able to become productive.

As to the old house itself, it may be impossible to save, but may be harvested for wonderful old materials to be incorporated into someone else's building project. We had an old barn that had a tin roof and a panel came loose in a storm and did not get repaired soon enough (our fault). The rafters got wet and rotted and was soon beyond repair. There were supports in that barn that went back to the 1800's and had been planed by axe with the chops still readily identifiable. An industrious local builder salvaged the materials and removed the barn and parts of it live on elsewhere!

My residence is an old farm house that grew out of a cabin with a bucket surface well at the back door that was still open when I moved here in 1964. Did have indoor plumbing and electricity. Gene and Jenny Straughn lived here and kept bird dogs, and John White owned the place and his wife and daughters stayed here often and rode horses here.

A Clark Family had built the main house in the 20's-30's with the classic two stories in front with bedrooms upstairs and living room and parlor downstairs and a connecting midsection was added with another bedroom upstairs and one downstairs with a dining room. The Herd Clark family owned it before World War II and had a hunting club here that attracted quail hunters from all over the country. I just went looking for the old pictures but could not put my hands on them; found a bunch of others I had forgotten about.

I loved the place and my first wife Dottie stayed one night and left with the children while I went to assist Dr. Northington with an appendectomy! She did eventually return and "helped" restore. Painted over the pine panelling in the living room! while I was at the office! But then came the winter, and the walls were too narrow to blow in insulation between the outside shingles and the inside panel or wall board and the old furnace was just a chugging and could barely keep the inside at 40 degrees F with that northwest wind whistling through! Fortunately it did have a wide wraparound porch on the north and west sides and I found a fellow with a truck load of sliding glass doors and we replaced the screen on the porch with the doors and 'insulated' the north and west sides from the worst wind! After a while we could swing for building a garage on the south side, and a few years later a greenhouse on the east side, so we effectively "boxed in" the old house and it is now remarkably temperature efficient, summer and winter.

The old well was "limey" and defied many efforts to make it drinkable, and I would carry a couple of gallon jugs home from the office every day for cooking and drinking! Water finally became tolerable with an exchange tank rather like a water softener, and we finally got lucky with a new well that hit a different water pool down deep. We made a stoop over the old bucket well and that is now our main entrance, right into the kitchen.

Maybe the worst was we put on a new roof and it leaked. The old roof was due to be replaced but was NOT leaking. Have had our share still with one run in to leak in the downstairs dining room and bedroom. Leaks especially in the garage which Frank built with inadequate slope on the roof!

Fireplaces are now capped as is the flue for the woodstove that was in the kitchen. But we supplement heating with a wood stove outside that heats water which is then pumped through a radiator in the duct of the oil furnace. We can just turn on the fan and leave the furnace off much of the time. We have to cut up the fallen trees off the fences anyway, so we have a ready source of wood. Can use the same plumbing to run the old limey water through and cool in summer without running the air conditioning. Run the water on through a sprinkler to make a "cool spot" for the cows!

Call me, John Dykers, and you can call John Will or Tisha Headen at 919-742-4745 if you are close enough to explore joint agriculture ventures. We are on the east end of the Alston Bridge Road and John Will is actually at the junction with Reives Chapel Church Road and the farm there is along the Rocky River.. We are primarily grass farmers and harvest it with Charolais cattle and some extra stockers when we have extra grass.


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Harvesting wonderful materials from an old house

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