While I was in Idaho last month, I got the chance to go prowl around one of the old family farm houses that belonged to my progenitors and still stands in the town where my family lived back then.  It's a funny little community because a lot of old family farm houses still stand there and they still look much like they did in the early 1900s. Normally, I would expect that everything older than twenty years have been razed by now to make way for twentieth century progress like strip malls and cathouses (no, not this kind), so it was good to be reminded that there are still some places in the world that keep historic buildings around, even though they're not listed on the National Register.  

As I mentioned before, I didn't take my camera on this trip -- just too much traveling and too much stuff to carry around with me while crisscrossing the state -- so I took all my photos that week with my camera phone.  Hence, the quality of my pictures that week wasn't top. But with the application of my mad Photoshop skills a few downloaded actions I swiped off the interweb, these photos actually came out quite nice.

My Great-Grandfather's farmhouse

The same house as it looked in 1920 1910*

I love that it's nearly identical to how it looked over a hundred years ago.**

Surprisingly, much of my Great Grandfather's farmland is still there too. My Great Uncle took over the farm after Great Grandpa died and I remember being a kid and heading out directly to the right of those photos above and searching for milkweed in his wheat field.  Because there wasn't much else that would make a bigger, gooier, stickier mess to annoy the adults more and something about that is wonderful to a seven year old.  Years ago the family sold off that portion of land and now that area is a subdivision. But here's the view out of the front window...

...and the fact that that any of his old farmland is still being used as, well, farmland, to me, is nothing short of amazing.

It was one of the first houses in the community to have electricity installed and still has the old-style push button light switches inside:

If, maybe, a little worse for wear

Out back, several of his old barns still stand.  Here's one:

This is the barn where the cows were milked every morning. Now, it's largely unused, but there's still graffiti from 1925 when my fifteen-year-old grandmother decided to write her name all over the walls of pretty much everything on the property, starting a tradition that family members would follow for decades.  Most are just names and dates from those who decided to mark their territory, but my favorite is probably the one that says, "Put heifers in pasture Aug. 25."  I don't quite know the purpose of this note: was it to remind someone that they needed to put the heifers out? or was it proof that he/she did it?  Either way, I guess paper was in short supply that day and a barn wall was a good enough substitute.  A bunch of my cousins and I went rummaging through that barn one day and, oh, the things that I could take home and sell for eleventy-hundred dollars at a primitive antique store here.  If only airlines didn't charge for additional checked bags now.

I loved the light streaming through the windows here in the milking side of the barn:

This one didn't even require much work in Photoshop, the natural light looked just blue that day

I don't know how old this water pump is, but it's still in use.
It also makes that modern green garden hose seem a bit anachronistic

This house is still in the family and I love that.  I remember spending nights in one of the upstairs rooms as a kid and obsessively petting the velour blanket my Great Aunt gave us to keep warm at night.  I remember playing in a nearby potato cellar.  I remember climbing the tree that stood next to the house*** and trying to hop off its branches onto the roof (That tree is gone now -- it got too big and rickety and it threatened the house so they had it removed.  I understand, but that one still makes me sad.).  I remember having adventures with cousins in the woods out beside the house.  Mostly I remember feeling... home.  Even though the home that I actually lived in everyday was several hundred miles away and it was not my grandparents who owned the house, but rather my grandparents' siblings.

It's funny how the concept of "home" can change on you.  When I was little, this area of the country felt like home to me.  Now I feel "home" is where I am.  It's the city that I love. It's where my husband is. It's where my kids are growing up.  It's where I have a life.  I have a new home now.  And I fully expect that one day this home that I know will be replaced by some other home in some other part of the country.  But somewhere inside of me, that little farmhouse occupies a little piece of "home" for me too.  When I think of the generations of children running across that porch and the rocking chairs that have graced its presence and the songs sung there, that little farmhouse still makes me smile.

Edited to add:  I love that I have people who read this weblog and then send me photos like the following.  Thanks, E, these are great! 

*This was actually the house in 1910, shortly after it was built by the original family who owned it (along with the original family standing on the porch).

**But here is the property in 1895 when that family homesteaded it.  So I guess some things do change:

Here's the corral in 1942:

Here's the house with my Great Aunt and Uncle standing in front in 1970.  Three words:  White.  Picket.  Fence:

***Here's that tree in the middle 1970s.  Apparently it was the garage the tree overhung, not the house, so my memory is a bit faulty.  Also, I had totally forgotten that there was almost always a tire swing in the yard.  That is almost too idyllic to be real: