For the three prior summers our attention was focused on rehabilitating the stately Ruben Gridley Wright house while the barn languished in the shade of benign neglect. The wildlife that considered the barn their home and exclusive domain were glad for the relative peace and solitude they enjoyed while we devoted our time and energies to other projects. To be sure, the barn has seen plenty of use, first as a warehouse for all out furniture and other possessions while we restored the house to habitable condition. Later, as we reclaimed habitable space in the house, furniture was brought into the house and the barn filled with farming implements and reverted to its intended role as workshop. Indeed, we had only just settled into the farm in the late summer of 2016 when Jason and Katie’s new classmates approached us to use the barn as a workshop for fit-up of the Class of 2020’s homecoming float. The lower level of the barn certainly provided a great space in which to fabricate and cobble together the trappings of a parade float. But that’s not the only reason this old barn was targeted for invasion by the Class of 2020! The cool thing about a big old barn is all the great places to slip away from the watchful eyes of proctoring parents! It wasn’t until I started cleaning up after the week-long party that I realized they had disappeared into the hidden recesses of the storied old structure. The racoons and wood chucks were probably unnerved by the invasion of 30-plus teenagers, but whatever inconvenience this “home invasion” presented to the permanent residents was amply compensated for with bags of chips, stashed pizzas and other snacks strewn about the barn.
Each summer we approached the barn with the best of intentions; as I eyed the barn from the fields where spring planting was wrapping up, I re-committed to getting started on long-overdue repairs and upkeep. But the urgency of emergent equipment repairs and unwavering pace of the growing season left little time for barn rehabilitation. When we finally got the canola planted in late May, that work plan for barn repairs was already in jeopardy. And to further complicate good intentions for summer projects, we opened our doors for guests and were soon busy preparing breakfasts and looking after our guests. So, it looked like another year of benign neglect for the barn. But that all changed when Jason decided he needed to make some money so that he could go visit friends in Texas. So, having avoided with great finesse the obligations of steady work “in town”, he was faced with the last option that all farm kids dread – working on the farm for dad. When he finally conceded that he needed to help out around home to earn some money for his trip, I seized the opportunity and handed him a paint scraper and pointed him in the direction of the barn. This was looking like a “win-win” for Jason and dad. Little did I appreciate that the motivation to take up barn painting was only a temporary imperative to earn a little money. Once he had enough cash to flee the Gold Brook Farm “labor camp”, he paused only long enough to wash the paint from his hair and beg a ride to the airport. … which left me to finish the job he had started. Well sometimes we just need a little catalyst to get things started and, in the case of the summer of 2019 barn rehab project, Jase’s wanderlust was the trigger that got us started on a project that is sure to run for several more years. We managed to get the front (south) and east sides of the barn repaired and painted by late August and are working as of this writing on some foundation repairs. As was the case with the house, the full exterior repair and painting job will be a multi-year project. We’ll have to get through another winter with snow drifting through the many knot holes and cracked hemlock sheathing on the west and north faces of the sturdy old structure.
Our attention is once again shifted to our guests and preparing for a reservation calendar that is filling up. When we petitioned the Village Planning Board for a permit to operate the bed and breakfast, we had to show a parking plan with defined guest parking spaces. Satisfying the Board’s desire for designated parking involved removing a couple venerable old maple trees; clearing and grading previously undisturbed lawns and placing permeable pavers to create a year-round improved surface for our guests. That project is well underway and should be completed just in time to start raking leaves. … and that then begs the question… where did the summer go!!!???