Sunday, October 30, 2022

Shaving Hill Farm.... Do We Miss It?

This blog entry is a complete departure from our journey with dementia, well unti the last paragraph.  I just felt like writing about the subject.

 As I wrote on the About Us page of this blog, we lived in Londonderry, New Hampshire for twenty-five years.  All three daughters went off to college and when they graduated, they moved back home.  That is when we decided that we should move away.  We ended up buying an old family farm in Limington, Maine.  I say farm, but it had not been farmed in more than fifty years.  But the property was still in the family that had purchased it in June of 1800.  At the time of our purchase (2000), it was 98 acres situated a mile down a dead-end road.  There was a large timber-frame house and a similar barn.  The property was completely forested.

The main part of the house had a huge central chimney with a fireplace in each room.  In the front, was a living room and a dining room.  The back of the first floor was a long utility room and a half-bath.  Upstairs there were three large bedrooms and two full baths.  Attached to the right side was a two-story ell that had the kitchen on the first floor and another bedroom and bath upstairs.   I saw a couple of old photos of the place and that ell was originally one floor.  The second floor bedroom was added sometime before 1955.  Attached to the right of the ell was a forty-five foot shed that smelled like livestock.  On the other side, next to the living room was a three-season room with a nice Yodel propane stove.

The house had been built into the hillside.  The first floor was at ground level.  But when you walked around back, you came in on the second floor.  Sometime in its early life, the post & beam structure had leaned forward a little.  You could see the lean when you stood on the deck and looked down the front of the house.  It was not a bad lean, but visible.   The house was inherited by a relative when the last resident passed in the late 1950's.  They renovated in the late 1970's with sheet rock and yellow paint.  If you looked at the exposed posts, you could see that the lean had occurred before that work.

But my draw to the farm was the property.  There was a high spot on the western edge of the property that let you see three or four towns south.  In the rear on the right side was a swampy area with a lot of ferns and other wetlands vegetation.    It was home to moose, deer, Fisher, and cottontail, not to mention coyotes.  There were also a lot of winged species, like Pileated woodpeckers, bard and Great-horned owls, turkey, and others.  At the time, we had horses and it was a great place to go riding and never leave your own property.  I also loved to snowshoe the property.  I always took our beloved Lab-Newfie mix, Bubba Harley, with me.  At 120 pounds, I never worried about running into anything harmful out there.

 We had cleared a couple of acres and planted a thousand balsam fir Christmas trees.  Originally we had planned to have a cut-your-own operation using the horses.  We would take the customer out to the field, they would chose and cut their own tree and we would have the horses return to the garage.  Nice idea, until you look at the price of liability insurance for that kind of business.  So we harvested and sold about 50 or so trees every year.  The obvious newbie mistake was planting a thousand trees at once instead of a few hundred per year.  By the time we sold the property, we had some beautiful 40 foot Christmas trees. 


We also raised timber.  We hired a licensed forester who helped us manage the timber growth and then managed the sales of timber.  We did an initial harvest in 2003-4.  The forester used the rings of a stump to show that it had not been forested in over forty years.  And we did another harvest just before we sold the property.  It was amazing to see what an impact a timber harvest had on the forest.  Within two years after the harvest, the forest floor was teeming with new growth.  Opening up the forest canopy just spawned new growth everywhere.  Not only new trees, but the existing trees really flourished.  I learned so much about forest management from our forester.  He served us and our forested property very well.











So the big question is... do we miss it.  The answer is complicated.  We do not really miss the house.  Since our kids did not grow up there, there is little emotional attachment.  And a 200 year-old house is just constant work.  And I admit that in the last few years I let that maintenance slide.   Sadly, the house is now gone.  The new owner wanted to restore it, but it was just too expensive.  So they tore it down and have built their new home.  We wish only the very best.  We had many a great family Christmas and Thanksgiving in that house.  And we had numerous wildlife experiences there, like the bear on the front deck raiding the bird feeders.  I could have reached out and touched him.  Or the two foxes that set off the security camera while cavorting at 2 am.  Or the baby porcupine that got onto a wall and couldn't figure out how to get off.  We assume that momma rescued him.








The property on the other hand....  I miss that greatly.  I miss the snowshoeing where I could follow moose tracks, or scout out Fisher nests.  I miss selling Christmas trees.  It got to be a lot of work for a 70-something to be cutting and hauling trees out of there, but I enjoyed it.  I miss my tractor and driving down a woods road and coming face-to-face with a coyote.  I know that Pam does not miss mucking horse stalls during the winter when it was 10 degrees out.  But I do miss the horses and of course Bubba Harley.

There are a few regrets, but I am a pragmatist, so I won't dwell on what could have been. Living there brought great joy, mostly because of the property, the trees, the wildlife, the solitude, and the peace.  Given our current situation with Pam's dementia, I long for that peace and solitude.  But, I have a mission.  To keep her safe and comfortable.  To make her laugh when I can.   And to get a hug every morning.  When we find peace in our lives, life moves on.  So be it.


  1. Our choice is to live the life we have as best we can. Looks like you have been and are doing just that. Love to you both, Cuz.

  2. This reminds me of Forrest Gump. “Life is like a box of chocolates”. You never know what you are going to get until you eat it. It looks like in 75 years we’ve eaten a lot of chocolate.

  3. I appreciate the pangs of such strong and meaningful memories of place. I hope that the next phase of life's journey will not cause you to forget these enriching experiences. Thank for sharing. Art