I grew up in England, Penny in Maine. We met in Maryland in 1975 and were married in North Carolina in 1982. Our mutual love of horses and an Australian Shepherd named Poco were responsible for our getting together, but that is a whole other story. This story is about...
Tantivy Farm "The Early Years"
A business proposition that involved organizing Eventing competitions at the new Virginia Horse Center required a move to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, one of our most favorite parts of the world. So in April 1989, we moved and rented what our children thought was a prehistoric house, that was most definitely haunted. For a few months we looked and looked for a place to buy. Nothing was quite right including the farm with a lovely pond the first time we saw it and a huge sinkhole on our revisit. Nor was the farm that had a county road running through the middle of it attractive enough to raise two small boys.
Then a three line ad in the local newspaper caught Penny's attention and led to our discovery of a 54 acre tract of land that was overgrown with briars, brambles, cedar and sumac but had fantastic views and a waterfall. It was being sold by a farmer who, it seemed, had grown tired of losing cattle down the steep sided eastern boundary of his 200 plus acre farm. Parking at the bottom of the hill by an old gate, we trudged up the hill to one of the few flat spots. Penny said "let's build the horse barn here". About a hundred yards to the north after hacking through the undergrowth she said " and this is where the log home should go". With two young boys, 7 and 4, in tow the journey began. It only made sense that the name would be Tantivy which was the name of my parent's candy store in England, which was also one of Trevor and Andrew's (and ours!) favorite places to visit. Tantivy means "at a gallop", so the horse connection would also be maintained.
The two of us built the barn from the ground up. We had never used a 2 "man" post hole digger before, and forgetting we had moved to ROCKbridge County the durned machine almost led to our divorce for abuse of Penny, I almost put her elbow out of joint several times, and then sometimes she would entertain me as she flew through the air, (laughing was probably not a good thing to do at that time.....but I digress). Anyways, 21 holes later the posts were set and the construction began. Water was discovered almost 400 feet down after going through two caves which meant casing to 200 feet was needed that doubled the price. It was February and our "well" guy braved the elements as he kept putting another section of drill on. at 350 feet he discovered the water the "diviner" had told us about, although in all fairness he did say he didn't know how far down it was. The "well" guy said that we had water but probably wouldn't be able to wash the dishes and brush our teeth at the same time, so Penny,who was, as usual, home alone while I was judging an eventing competition in Florida, said please keep going and sure enough a few sections later "Eureka" we had an underground river.
The horses and ponies would have a home even though we were renting 10 miles away. The lesson learned was that we would pay somebody to build the log home instead of harvesting and milling our own trees, which we didn't really think we could do but it had crossed our minds.
We shopped around for log homes and found a local place with pressure treated pine logs that they said had been cleared by the EPA for use in homes. Fortunately a friend from up north showed us a report from the Canadian authorities explaining that arsenic used in pressure treating was not conducive to healthy lifestyles. Instead we ordered from a company we found in a log home book we picked up at the grocery store. Google didn't exist. The white cedar logs from Wisconsin arrived in April, along with the windows, doors and knotty pine ceilings, then after four days of dynamiting through the limestone ledges, with rocks flying through the air, much to our children's delight the basement construction began. We had a "few" frustrating" moments with the local contractor who was a friend when we started....another lesson learned. Through it all the home was semi ready for Thanksgiving dinner. We gave thanks as the family home was safe and dry even though there were few walls inside and only sub flooring. A couple of years later as we did the work ourselves except for some cabinets, the ladders were replaced with stairs, the porches were finished, the indoor paneling was done, the tongue and groove knotty pine ceilings were nailed in place and the tongue and groove wormy oak floors were laid by the four of us and the dream had become a reality. Time to put our feet up and enjoy the spectacular sunsets.
To be continued...