Assessing things

Yesterday’s plans to take my mother to visit her sister at the nursing home changed. I got a call in the morning, because she was worried about the weather. It was blowing pretty hard, and she was concerned. We ended up postponing for now.

When doing my rounds this morning, I found some minor tree damage from the winds.

Finding this branch was rather funny.

It was just hovering there.

After getting it down the rest of the way, I went looking for where it came from.

Looks like it was the tallest part of the tree that came down.

It’s the biggest downed branch I found, and the only one I did anything with. The others I found where smaller and scattered about, and will wait for spring clean up.

After all the clean up around the yard we’ve been able to get done, there are significantly fewer branches coming down than in our first two winters.

It’s also one of the few things that need to be done that I feel we can do anything about. I have to admit, I’m feeling really defeated right now.

Yesterday, I was finally able to get a video of what our well pump is doing while the bath is being run. While the water was being run in the tub, my husband tried to turn on the taps in the kitchen, and there was no water.


Not even a drop.

Since the well pump was running at the time, I clambered my way down and I got video of the gauge. The PSI was dropping to 0, then make it’s way up, then drop again. The sound would smooth out when it got above 20 PSI, but it didn’t stay there. I sent the video to my brother for advice.

He had a few things to say about what the problem could be, but this is a job for a plumber. He even suggested we might want to fill bottles of water, to have some in stock in case we lose water completely.

We don’t have the money for a plumber. Between things like servicing my mom’s car after our close encounter with a deer, having to maintain our own vehicle, and all the other things chipping away at our attempts to set aside a contingency fund, we haven’t even been able to replace our hot water tank yet – and that’s something we will be reimbursed for under warranty!

It all just seems never ending. Just going down into the old part basement, I see things like this.

This is the corner that’s near the septic pump, where my parents had the washing machine. What you’re seeing is the crumbling of concrete from under a layer of paint. This concrete would have been poured some time in the mid 1930’s, when the original log portion of the house was built. I suppose, for something that’s about 85 years old, it’s holding up really well, but it should have maintenance done on it to prevent it from getting worse. As far as I can see, it’s the only section that is actually crumbling like this.

So what are we looking at, and what is most urgent to deal with, in this place?

We have a well pump that is giving up the ghost, and it needs to be worked on while it’s a relatively small problem, or it could become a very, very big problem. Depending on whether the problem is just a foot valve or the pump itself needs to be replaced, the parts and pieces cost anywhere from about $15 to $350. The labour, however, could add significantly to that. That $15 part is at the bottom of the well, which means the labour would probable cost more than replacing the pump itself, which is easily accessible in a nice, warm basement. This could easily cost anywhere from a few hundred, to a thousand dollars. Money we just don’t have.

Getting the tank installed cost us just over a thousand dollars, so I would expect replacing that would cost about the same, minus the eventual reimbursement for the tank itself.

We have a roof that needs to be replaced, and I know they’re going to find rot under there, so that’s something I would expect to cost about $10,000, though the estimates we have so far are for just under $9,000.

It seems like everywhere I look, I see things that need to be repaired, replaced or upgraded.

All the floors need to be redone, but the kitchen in particular is in bad shape. Not structurally, at least, but the lino is so worn out in places, you can actually see the wood. The floor itself is almost unwashable, there are so many pieces torn and edges curling up. Even sweeping it is a pain, because the bristles catch and the dirt gets stuck.

The bathroom needs to be redone, and I’m really not looking forward to seeing what kind of water damage there likely is, in the walls around the tub. Or behind the toilet tank. We’ve had to stop using the original hand towel hanger. It would get so wet in the summer. The outside of the tank, which is insulated on the inside, gets covered with so much condensation, it drips. I thought the towels were getting wet because they just reached the tank, and that certainly did contribute. However, when I would drape the hand towel so it couldn’t touch the tank, they were still getting wet. It seems the wall itself, which the tank is touching, is the source. Which means there is likely water damage behind the paneling. This paneling, made specially for bathrooms, would have been waterproof when it was installed back in the mid 70’s, but they aren’t, anymore.

We need a second bathroom.

We need to increase the electrical and upgrade some of what’s already there. Especially the stuff that’s been grandfathered. I don’t know when electricity was added to the house, but I am estimating mid 1950’s. Maybe even the early 1960’s. All I can say for sure is that there was no electricity when my father came to Canada and visited his uncle, who owned this place at the time, but that there was electricity by the time my parents bought the place and moved here in the early to mid 60’s.

All the walls and ceilings need to be redone. The upstairs needs to be better insulated. The master bedroom has a huge window that needs to be replaced.

The basements need maintenance. The stairs to the old basement and the second level need to be replaced. The old wood burning furnace needs to be taken out, along with the old hot water tank that is still sitting there, waiting to be dismantled so it can be removed (it’s way too heavy to take up the stairs). Plus, there’s still lots of stuff from my parents that needs to be sorted through and either packed away into storage, cleaned up and used, or tossed as the garbage it is.

The stove needs to be replaced, and the fridge is coming due for replacement, too. The washer and drier will also need replacing, though I think we might have a few years left in them. The light fixture in the kitchen has needed to be replaced for years. The kitchen tap and faucet needed to be replaced. The counters and cupboards need to be redone or replaced. The Old Kitchen needs to be emptied, the floors redone, the walls insulated, and one of the windows needs replacing – there is even a replacement window sitting there, waiting for installation.

On top of all that, we really should install a wheelchair ramp, so make it easier for my husband to get in and out with his walker. We also need to hire someone to clear out more dead trees, and get a chipper in to clean up the wood we’ve been piling up as we clean what we can.

The driveway needs to be redone. Fences need to be repaired or replaced. Collapsing buildings need to be dismantled. Junk needs to be hauled away.

The list just keeps getting longer and longer, and this is not small stuff.

And we are on a fixed income that will only be going down, never up, and any attempt to supplement with, say, me getting a job, will just get deducted. Basically, we’d be penalized for trying to get ahead.

I honestly don’t know what we’re going to do. We don’t own the place and taking care of it is part of the deal with my mom, for living here “rent free”. And for the regular maintenance, it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s the big stuff that are the result of years of wear and tear and years of neglect. My siblings did the best they could as my parents aged and could no longer do things themselves, but some of the stuff we’re only finding out about because we are actually living here and looking for them.


We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and in the end, all we can do is just keep plugging away.

It’s just that, some days, when I sit down and assess what we’ve been finding, it’s hard not to feel completely defeated.

The Re-Farmer

6 thoughts on “Assessing things

  1. Good grief… That is a massive mess. Well, the tree branches are a small thing anyway. The rest though… just wow. Sounds like the farm wasn’t taken care of at all before you took over. I doubt there’s any way to cut your losses. If your mom is like mine, you’d have to blast her out of there. :\

    The only solid thing I can suggest is stop gap repairs until you can afford to do each thing properly. Beyond that, there is a trick that is common here in California with farms. My other half’s grandparents owned a farm. They “leased” the actual orchards to a company that came in, cared for and harvested all the fruit and paid the grandparents a cut of the profits. If there’s enough available true farm land on the farm, you might want to look into that. It gave the family here enough income to keep the farm into their retirement years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most of the land is rented out. A quarter section is good only for pasture and a bit of hay. The home quarter is about half pasture – minus the area fenced off for house and outbuildings – about a quarter for crops and a quarter with an alfalfa mix. The rent is just enough to pay the taxes. The farm itself makes no money. We have been trying to brainstorm ways to fix that, but they all either require significant investment, or prohibitive permits.

      My mom and dad insisted it stays in the family name. One brother has his quarter and “took care” of the place, but the house was empty for 2 years after my dad died. My older brother is getting the remaining land, and has already taken over the management of it – and the bills – for our mom. He had his own land almost 2 hours away, so us being here is a huge relief for him. Mom is pretty oblivious to how bad things had gotten.

      We will work it out with what we can. The hard part will be having to let go of what we can’t do, and watch it continue to deteriorate. But things like the roof and the well? We have to find a solution.

      Oh, and icing on the s*** cake last night: my husband broke a tooth. *Sigh*

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry things are so hard. It just seems endless! One project at a time sounds good, it’s just always something new or more pressing adds to the list. Praying what is needed the most is able to get done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks.

      There are a lot of things that we can let slide and learn to live with. But some – like maintaining the well, the hot water tank, the roof – we just can’t ignore those. Otherwise, we have no water, no hot water, and a leaky roof!


  3. Pingback: Life goes on | The Re-Farmer

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