Building the Dream – builders on site!

Building the Dream – builders on site!

I thought you might like to share the adventure as The Farmer and I embark on our ‘big build’ and attempt to morph this…

DSC_0943 (1)
The Chaff House ~ built circa 1910

into this…

The Chaff House Drawing
The Chaff House ~ built circa 20?? (I’m not jinxing it with a year)

It’s a lovely old barn on our farm, and we hope to preserve some of its character and history as we turn it into our home.

To bring you up to speed, here are the stages we’ve been through so far:

  • Architects drawings (twice, because we changed everything.)
  • Planning permission (twice… because we changed the architect’s drawings.)
  • Enthusiastic tree felling (see earlier post: Plain Barny)
  • Barn clearing
  • (To be fair, The Farmer takes the lion’s share of the credit for this transformation. I was busy…)

    … making pretty models on 3D Architect.)

    (It’s addictive, I tell you. Like real life Sims! You can even add wind chimes (ffs!) I’ve moved every interior wall (several times) and suffered a mild panic attack when I set the bed down in the master bedroom (calm restored when I remembered that I was working in an American programme and adjusted the bed to UK dimensions. American beds are ginormous, apparently.)

But the playing is over now. WE’VE GOT REAL LIFE BUILDERS ON SITE!

We’ve gathered the perfect team, with more years of experience between them than even that ol’ barn has seen. DB, DS and DK (*Dodgy Back, Dodgy Shoulder and Dodgy Knees) are currently tearing down the old feather-edged boards, and OF (*Ornery Farmer) is excavating foundations to see if they’re deep enough (fingers crossed).

(*To be fair, I’m the one with a ceramic hip, and the farmer might be less ornery if I stopped moving walls.)

I’ve supplied tea, biscuits and ibuprofen, now I’m writing a blog post. It’s what I do best, for the moment (and it’s keeping me from the dangers of Architect 3D with the potential risk of forking out for a third set of drawings).

Let the adventure begin.

Any suggestions where I might hang those wind chimes, guys?

Plain Barny

Plain Barny

We live a jammy, comfortable life in a lovely home with running water, central heating and his&hers studies. (We’ve been wed 32 years, and farmed side by side for all of them, but we’ve yet to achieve the heady compatibility of shared office space.)

Our kids grew up in this house, pets and sagas have come and gone. The rooms wear the tale of our lives like a favoured sweatshirt; baggy and washed-out with age. There’s a simile there which suits us rather well these days too. We turn a blind eye to the peeling wallpaper, the leaky roof and the scuff marks. The house has become an old friend and her quirks are easy to tolerate.

But the indolence of our mid-life comfort is about to be shaken. We’re downsizing, into a barn, which currently looks like this…


Our barn hasn’t got running water, central heating or sewers, but I am reassured that these vital amenities are included in the plans. As are his&hers offices (to avoid the alternative – his&hers houses – which would be altogether more costly). There are also a lot of indecipherable ciphers on our drawings, which I’m desperately trying to interpret.

building reg snip

I’m sure it will all be fine. The Farmer has chopped down some trees (a knee-jerk reaction to stress), we’ve got artisan mates primed to start work and I’m mugging up on Celotex and feather-edged boarding (whilst surreptitiously pinning pretty pictures to Pintrest).


And I’m learning a lot. Primarily, I’ve learnt that my notions are more romantic than my budget. Is there such a thing as a dream editor, to keep things realistic?


We may have to reconsider the pretty windows, but we will have windows of some sort… I think. There will be hilarity (hysteria), cock-up and heated discussion (argument) aplenty before we get this job done. I fully accept that my comfortable, baggy-sweatshirt existence is about to be disrupted.

Bring on the sequined crop-top, I’m (almost) ready.


Sorting the chaff from the wheat

Sorting the chaff from the wheat



The chaff house door, and I wonder how many farmers  have grabbed that rusty handle and pushed the rickety door. Although it wasn’t always rusty and rickety of course, it was a new barn once, built to house the hand-worked chaff machine, to strip the chaff from the grains grown on the farm.






The barn is charming, romantic and rustic, but that must have been back breaking work. Back in the days when the farm employed most of the men in the village, and a land army of women when the men were sent to war. Heavy horses working the land alongside them, and then the steam engines came along, moving from farm to farm to power the threshing and baling machines. Still loaded by hand of course.


threshing machine

Quaint in the photographs, great to watch at a country show, but my nostalgia isn’t such that I would want to live the farming life of the days before mechanisation and combine harvesters.


We watched a steam engine working a baling machine at our local steam-up. That particular engine had broken records for hay baling, back in the day. The hay it was baling then went to France, to feed the horses who who were fighting alongside the men. That makes you think.

In my time on the farm, our chaff house has stored hay and straw, the clay pigeon pull and an odd collection of random wood and bits of farm machinery. I think there’s some furniture in there too. Right now, it’s a store for the plastics; the spray cans and fertiliser bags which are waiting to be recycled. Which may be it’s least romantic job yet, but that’s progress for you.