The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.


Drawing of the old houseThe old house at the edge of the yard has been on its way out ever since I bought the property.  It was built with no foundation and no structural elements except for thin walls, and yet it stood for three quarters of a century.  By the time I arrived on the property, it had developed a bit of a lean and the porch and one room had collapsed, but we probably could have shored it up.  Mark wasn't in the picture yet, though, and I knew nothing, so I commenced to tear it down.  Here's an animation showing me tearing down the second of the four rooms:

Tearing down an old house

Old building torn down to the roof raftersBy the time Mark stepped in and stopped me, I had torn the house down to the original two rooms, then had ripped half the walls off what remained.  What little structure the house once had was long gone, but the house stood for another year or two anyway.  Finally, it developed such a major lean that we were afraid it would fall on Lucy in the night, so we yanked it down with the hand winch, but never managed to take the time to disassemble it.

This week, I've finally put house demolition back on the to do list.  Mark's got the homemade storage building walls nearly complete, and then he'll be needing a roof.  I figure we can save about $200 by reusing the old tin, and that doesn't even take into consideration the thick rafters that are already cut to just the right length.  Finally, the old house is worth taking apart.

I have to admit my ulterior motive, though.  The old house sits on some of the richest soil in our yard, ground that I've been eying for years.  By taking the house apart, I'll have yet more garden space!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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It was kind of sad to see that old house go down. Looking back now, imagine the hen house or goat house that could have made. Living in rural Arkansas I see a lot of old buildings that through my childhood some of which I can remember people living in that are just left to rot to the ground. It is just a said fact of life. All things return to the circle, nothing is lost.

Comment by Erich Tue Jan 12 11:11:25 2010
I agree --- if I'd known better, I never would have started tearing it down, but once I started I had to carry through. (I messed up its structural integrity nearly immediately.) In the future, I'll be a bit more knowledgable. But at least we can use all of the wood and metal!
Comment by anna Tue Jan 12 16:28:16 2010

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