Golding Farm Redux

The Golding Farm

Front door of Golding Farm

Last summer we did a lot of work on the Golding Farm House to make it habitable for folks. Fortunately for us at that time the folks were friends and not paying customers. They didn’t mind the fact that we’d covered up the cracks in the walls with “tapestries” and that there was one room that still had giant holes in the ceiling among other issues.

We’re starting now to get more serious about getting the Golding Farm ready for real visitors, perhaps even vacationing renters. There are a few major jobs that need to be done: a new bathroom needs to be installed upstairs and the small room adjoining it needs to be subsumed into that bathroom. The room next to that room needs to be turned into a hallway and the room with the holes in the ceiling needs some, um, work too.*

There’s something really special about this house, but it’s hard to put your finger on what exactly. We really love it. None of us has ever actually lived there, but there’s just a really warm and special feel to this house. There must have been a lot of love in this house over the last 150 years that we can sense somehow.

Sadly I remember when this house was not treated with a lot of love–we used to rent it out to a series of families that didn’t treat the house or the grounds with much respect. I remember more than one occasion when we hauled out loads of junk, cleaned off caked-on grime from many surfaces and washed windows that hadn’t been washed in decades.

Over the last 3-4 years we’ve worked slowly at it and the improvements have been incremental. Many of us have done this work: my Mum and Dad, my brother of course who lived there last summer, my aunt and uncle and even my uncle Floyd before he passed away. Maybe that’s why we love this house, because so many of us have invested in it.

My Mum put together an amazing photo album that documents the transformation of the Golding Farm. Here’s hoping that we’ll be adding to this album soon with even more gorgeous photos of the newest set of improvements

*Please note that not all Covert family members agree on this plan of attack for the re-configuring of the top floor. I am a fan of this plan because it preserves the size of the stunning master bedroom which is huge and lovely, in my humble opinion. Stay tuned to see if I get overruled.


Lodi Resolutions 2010

Garden Bounty

Garden Bounty

Well this is the time of year that we make resolutions and set goals for the year to come, and I thought I’d jot down some areas of improvement for our various Lodi projects for 2010.

First of all, this blog was a New Year’s resolution for 2009 but I resolve to continue to blog about Lodi because I get a lot out of the experience. Plus I think I enjoy a pretty special niche in the blogosphere as one of the very few Lodi bloggers. 😉

Here are a few other goals for Lodi projects in 2010
1) The Golding Farm. This is a big one, but the improvements we made to the Golding Farm property last year were so great that we need to capitalize on this momentum and push through to get things up to a level of being able to rent it out for vacationers. This is no small feat and will take more strategizing, investment and elbow grease, but suffice it to say that Golding Farm improvements are definitely a big goal for 2010.

2) Garden goals
-better organization of garden plots: I want to apply a little more logical structure to the garden next year and plant things in cohesive rows instead of amorphous blobs.
-better labeling of everything we plant in the garden, by name and variety
-better assessment of garden hits and misses (i.e. this variety of tomato is better than this other one) in order to make more informed choices in the future
-grow tomatillos. I got hooked on salsa verde last year and so really want to grow our own tomatillos to keep the supply coming!

3) More and better canning and preserving. One thing I learned as a byproduct of doing the actual gardening was what to do with the stuff you grow. In 2010 I want to be even more strategic about dealing with the fruits (ahem, pun intended) of our labours and improve the ways we preserve the great food we grow. More sauces, jams, salsas, chutneys… here we come!

4) continued improvement of Home Farm grounds. In 2010 I want to continue the work we’ve done on some of the perennial patches on the grounds. We need to tame the raspberry/fern/lily patch right outside the back door of the house in the first set of improvements. I also would like to work my way around the property identifying areas of healthy perennials and removing the weeds to let them grow. This may be a long term project… but we have to start somewhere.

5) create a tame raspberry patch. There is a lot of wild raspberry around our property and I have a theory that if we can tame it and tend it properly it will actually yield delicious raspberries. I will test this theory in 2010 and maybe by 2011 there will be crazy amounts of fruit to allow for Resolution #3.

Ok Coverts–any other Lodi Resolutions you can think of? Getting the tractor going this year, perhaps?

The Big Reno

The Master Bedroom Upstairs, Golding Farm

Originally uploaded by j-co

Over the last month we’ve been working hard in Lodi. With summer holidays and several groups of visitors we found ourselves finally pressed into action out at the Golding Farm.

The Golding Farm has a beautiful farm house and two barns that date from before 1850. No one has lived in the house for several years, and the upstairs hasn’t been inhabited for over 10 years.

The Golding Farm is a big project. There are some big picture issues like a room that needs to be completely re-drywalled and walls that look like that haven’t been re-plastered since, um, 1850.

So these things make it a daunting project and we tend to dance around the issues. But my brother devoted a large portion of his summer to working and living out at the Farm and making major improvements. Steadily over the months he’d cleaned up, re-fitted the kitchen, re-landscaped and essentially made the place livable.

Then all of a sudden we were faced with 8 visitors all arriving at the same time and we didn’t have room for everyone at the house in town. We rushed around for 3 days and managed to make the Golding Farm look half-way decent. We moved in beds, dressers, accessories and hung paintings and made it look like a comfortable, welcoming place.

This is a pretty major coup for us because we were really not sure that this house could be a viable place that people would want to be. We still have a lot of work to do, but by moving the furniture in an dressing the place up it made us realize that house is not as desperately inhabitable as we thought and has great potential.

Now we just need to win the lottery and we’ll be good to go!

A Very Productive Weekend

The Barn

The Barn

This past long weekend was a very busy one in at the Home Farm in Lodi. The house was busier than it has been in years with 6 inhabitants for most of the weekend. We gathered to enjoy the holiday weekend, have a great Easter meal and get some fresh country air. There were also several big projects on the go that we were all involved in and we had success in all areas.

When my brother and I arrived, we were greeted by an empty house because my dad and my uncle were hard at work at one of our properties, arguably the one that needs the most work, the house on what we call the Golding Farm. It’s kind of funny how things end up with the names we use for them, and this house has been owned by my dad for a long time, but at one point it was inhabited by a family called Golding and somehow the name stuck.

Dad and my uncle had been hard at work fixing portions of the the roof on this house that dates from before 1850. You can imagine the kinds of things that need fixing in a house this old but the roof is the most pressing problem right now. Last summer significant improvement was made to the foundation, which was the number one issue to fix on the house. Slowly but surely we are attacking the major issues for this beautful historic property and managing to keep it going.

Inside the Golding Farm

Inside the Golding Farm

Dad and my uncle had professtional help in this major roofing endeavour, and in fact were mostly helping out the professional in this scenario. And for the record, my dad is too old to be doing this kind of thing, not that it made any difference to mention this.

The other major success is that we created the garden plots! It is a big success story because we not only dug some holes in the ground, we actually cleared out a huge section of land that hadn’t seen any TLC in about 50 years. We decided, after careful inspection (that others did while I was sleeping in) that we should put the garden in the old sheep paddock. We figured that the soil would be very rich and the area gets a lot of sun throughout the day.

The sheep paddock had housed sheep for many years, but the last of them left about 25 years ago. In the interim, the area was overgrown with brambles, wild raspberry vines, sumac trees, and weeds, along with random ancient junk. We worked hard for about a day and a half, and we cleared out a lot of the junk and weeds and dug four plots of about three feet by four feet, edged them with stones and covered them with the rich mulch-like substance from the ground of the paddock. We’ll return in about a month to plant.

More details on both of these major projects are forthcoming in future posts, but suffice it to say that things really went well on this very productive Easter weekend.

Plotting the Garden

One possible garden location

One possible garden location

This weekend my brother is visiting from Montreal as it’s my dad’s and my birthday. Gardening literature featured prominently in the gift-giving this year, which was perfect for focusing us all on the task at hand as we were all in the same place at the same time. It’s almost April, we really need to start figuring out this garden stuff if we’re going to get to it this spring.

One of our first jobs is deciding where the garden will be. This quite possibly will be one of our toughest decisions as a lot of the success of the garden will depend on the qualities of the spot that we decide to pick.

Currently there are 4 different spots in the running to be our main garden plot:
1. the space between the two cottages
PROS: lots of sun, closest to where we will be for most of the summer therefore the most convenient to manage; CONS: pretty crummy soil, as grass doesn’t even grow there

2. grassy area to the north of the home farm house
PROS: lots of sun, location of previous garden, so soil must be pretty good; CONS: might be too shady, fronts on the street so lacks privacy

3. grassy area back in behind the barn
PROS: the most sunny spot, the best soil, as it abuts a field of corn; CONS: a bit far from any buildings so that we’d have easy access to tools, water etc. (in the photo above, this plot would be to the left after the tall red tree)

4. small plot at the Golding Farm house grounds
PROS: used to be a garden, so it must have good soil and sun; CONS: the most inconvenient place to have the garden, furthest from the cottage, so would be a logistical challenge

Just a word about the Golding Farm. It’s a farm and farm house that my father purchased many years ago. We rent out the farmland and have rented out the house in the past. We have been working really hard to improve this house in the last few years as we all just love it. It’s a beautiful house that dates back to before 1850 and has had very few major renovations, which is part of the reason we keep working on it, but also partly why we love it–it has so much history in its walls and grounds.

We are planning a visit to Lodi in April and will spend some time analyzing the sun patterns and soil quality in each of these areas in order to determine which would be the best place for our garden to thrive.

All of this has made me think I’d really like to have a little city balcony garden this year too. It’ll give me a taste of the joys of a garden, and I’ll get to hone my skills at the same time. I’m thinking of pots of juicy tomatoes, maybe a small herb garden with basil, thyme, parsley… ooh lavender… how about sage…