This morning we had an appointment with someone from the VA Department of Forestry. He’s actually a neighbor, and it was a great visit. Not only did he teach us all about how to care for our trees but he knew so much about the area.
The old tobacco barn by our creek, which lies just a few feet over our property line, and the tantalizing view of a large ruin beyond the creek were only the first hint of what lies beyond. We crossed the creek (with me of course slipping off the stepping stone and finding myself shin deep in icy water) and walking up towards the old ruins we could see. The man we were with confirmed it to be the ruins of a large barn. He thought the family who owned it was prosperous, judging by the size of it and all the outbuildings.
Following the trail and a few more trickling streams up through the woods, we started to see more out buildings – a corn crib, the ruins of something else. Then on top of the hillside John spied daffodils nodding in the spring breeze and I noticed the remnants of a decorative wrought iron fence. We were deep in the woods, probably a mile from the main road and about half a mile from our house. Suddenly the ruins of the old farm house appeared on top of the hill. It was a breathtaking moment for me. These were the people who owned our land, who farmed it. The home was big for the time period. The roof was missing and the back walls had caved in, but there were two chimneys, two large porches, and electrical switches on the wall, so they had electricity and it was occupied in this century. Judging by the hand-wrought nails left in the siding and a few pieces of old wavy glass, the construction techniques, some old nails we found and the fact that the house wasn’t listed on a Civil War- Confederate era map of the area, we gave it a rough age of around 1870.
It was a thrill for me to finally find the old farmhouse which was once the center of the land. The fellow walking with us also said there was an old plantation home somewhere very nearby dating back to the early 1800 or late 1700’s that had once owned over 4,000 acres, part of which must have been our property.
The biggest thrill for me, though, was seeing the remnants of the old front porch. The posts on the porch, although of wood, were identical to the ones we chose for our home. And the color? Spots left on the wood siding indicated it had once been yellow….with shutters…which is what we chose here.
I know yellow’s a popular house color and there are millions and millions of homes painted that color, and millions more houses with green shutters. But isn’t it absolutely wonderful to think that somehow, someway, we’ve recreated a bit of the past unknowingly?
Oh and the good news: our trees are healthy and don’t need anything done for at least 6 years. Thank you VA Dept of Forestry for the tree education – and nice to meet you, neighbor.