Field Trip Friday #8: New Old House in the Country

Field Trip Friday-001


Believe it or not, school will be in full swing again around here next week, so this is our last Field Trip Friday. I hope you’ve enjoyed them.


Today’s field trip takes us to a beautiful valley in East Tennessee—Dumplin Valley—and to one of the oldest farms in our county. Only a mile-and-a-half from the little farm Renaissance Man and I own, the Brotherton Farm is part of the land settled in 1785 by William Bradshaw and Richard Rankin of Pennsylvania.


Finding two fine springs, the pair set to work building a small house each, cutting logs to sizes they could handle. They then worked a 2-acre plot for each man; clearing, fencing, and planting their crops. Only then did they return to a nearby county to fetch their families.


For the past several generations, the land at the head of Dumplin Creek (originally settled by Bradshaw) has belonged to the Brotherton family. When Renaissance Man and I learned that 55 acres of it was for sale, we had to check it out.


The old 1940s farmhouse with its red metal roof has seen better days, but the old girl still has lots of life left in her.

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Sadly, the family doesn’t think so and has already allowed someone to start salvaging. Luckily, they agreed to stop until Renaissance Man and I can assess the property. We are certain the house can be saved. Do you agree?

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Remove the wall on the left to open up the living and dining rooms

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Kitchen with sink under center window—overlooking the several-acres wetlands

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One of two original doors with arches complementing the barrel-style front porch

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With the attic floor already removed, the vaulted ceilings show great potential!


A shed behind the house is the perfect size and placement for a drive-through garage—or a greenhouse.

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There’s even a red barn…

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…with the gorgeous upper-level light I love so much!

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Oh, my gosh… Is that what I think it is? Yes, it is!

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Small log cabin made of hand-hewn logs. Could it be the original from the 18th century?

The surprises just don’t end…


This tractor barn is filled with reclaimed lumber: tongue-and-groove, beadboard, huge beams—some with pegs.
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Vast clumps of wild roses are everywhere… and—unlike ours—much of the land is level. It just needs a good clean-up…

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And there’s a pond! Renaissance Man worked hard to put in a pond on our farm, but it wouldn’t hold water. We’d been warned…

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A little clean-up and this place would be gorgeous!

To make an offer or not:  That is the question!


As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this isn’t a “real-time” field trip. It’s one that happened just a few weeks ago—so I already know the answer…


In the end, we struggled for several days about which direction to go. We could save another old house (but it was right on the road—not set back from the road like the house we plan to build). The land was level (but there was too much of it; we’re not getting any younger after all.) We love that valley (but we already have a place in that valley—with a much better view!)

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Sometimes good things aren’t the best things…

In the end, we did our own salvaging…


The family wanted the log cabin “gone”, so they eagerly accepted our offer—and we played Barnwood Builders. (We love that show!)

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Each log tagged and a diagram drawn so the cabin can be reassembled—unless we decide to use the gorgeous old logs for beams in our “someday” house.

The cabin was carefully disassembled, loaded on a trailer…

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…and stacked at our farm.


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Can you imagine how long it took to cut and stack these logs by hand?

As for the tractor barn full of reclaimed wood…


We made an offer on that, too—and the family said, “Take it. Pleeease, take it!”


After several days of sorting and loading old lumber (and I-lost-count-how-many trips back and forth between our farm and theirs), thousands of linear feet of reclaimed boards are now stacked in our barn. They’re waiting on our old house in town to sell so we can start building our new-to-look-old farmhouse—with original plank walls and floors… and beadboard porch ceilings.

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We now know these boards were from the 1958 demolition of the old Mount Horeb School (circa early 1900s)

Our own Wild Rose Farm has been a place of respite for us, and every day I’m more and more glad we decided to stick with that dream.

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After all, it’s already been a place of memory-making…

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Click to see The Tablescape Challenge: Pink Au Naturale

fence building…

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Meet the boys: Lunch, Dinner, and Breakfast

and putting down roots.

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And just this week I saw the first red leaf of Fall at Wild Rose Farm.

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…and I’m getting excited about soon-to-be changing seasons. How could I ever give up this view?

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If you’d like to plan your own field trip, mark your calendar now…


Click for details


I’m joining Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.


  1. I think you’ve made the right decision—so much of your history is where you are now. But what an adventure you have to look forward to! You will have so much fun with your treasure trove of wood!

  2. Wow! Exciting times ahead for your family! The pictures are so beautiful. I look forward to watching the progress on your new place. What a blessing to have the pieces fall into place.