What I learned...at Tahilla Farm

It is amazing what a difference a week can make. Last Sunday I was simply contemplating travelling solo and within a day my life turned upside down. I arrived to Tahilla Farm on Monday to brisk biting New England winds and the last remnants of snow. Saigon was a distant memory...

I admit I was nervous as I drove along the dirt road to our new home. What if I realised I made a mistake? What if what I felt when I last saw the house in October..was just a passing fancy? It was too late to turn back..we owned it..my thoughts continued in this vain...there was lots of deep breathing as I nervously clutched the steering wheel of the car. 

I parked...and looked through the trees to the mountain.. phew!...it was still there.  It was just as I
remembered. I then turned towards the house..a warm feeling welled up inside of me. I took that as a good sign. I approached the kitchen door and turned the knob..this was the moment I had been waiting all these months for. 

I have to say there was a slight pang as I stepped inside and looked around..it was not as I had remembered. For the past six months I have been staring at realtor photos..the wide angle, well lit kind. I had to do a double take..the proportions were smaller. I held my breath and continued..slowly meandering through the house..taking in every detail. As I turned from one corner to the next, it came back to me..that feeling...the reason why I took the leap of faith to buy it. It still spoke to me..we were on the same page.

That was Monday...it is now Saturday evening and I am tucked away into yet another historical B&B, listening to the hourly church bells chime and reviewing my notes from the past week.

This is what I learned this past week..

Our 150 year old tree, the one we affectionately call the 'Martha Stewart' tree..must come down. After lengthy discussions with an arborist, I was advised it has lived it's life and now risks taking out one side of our house. There is a chance it could split down the middle which as you can see from this photo...could have devastating consequences. I don't think I can bare to see it come down..we all made the decision with deep regret.

On a brighter note, after a morning with a wonderful landscape architect...who I plan to write about in more detail one day soon...we decided our first step for the property is to open up our views...first to our stone walls and then to the mountains surrounding us. Our house was built in 1790 and once sat amongst pastures and mountain views for as far as the eye could see...The house and property speak volumes to the history of the land and I am only on page one. I am a novice to the world of antique homes and historical  properties but I can grasp the beauty and importance of the land around us. It is time to bring it all back to life.

I have met with tradesmen to discuss chimneys, water systems, oil burners, propane gas heaters, wood floor treatments, pest treatment and the list goes on... We hired a groundskeeper, identified numerous trees and shrubs to be culled, decided on a simple kitchen garden and made plans to meet with an architect later in the week to discuss opportunities for our home. The ball is rolling at a steady pace. I have one more week to go and wish I had two.

Tomorrow I am consulting with a forester who I am told is a poet..who has the eye...for opening a landscape to it's best advantage. On Monday, I start addressing, dry wells, security systems, paint chips and stand by as a new water system is installed. But that is Monday and this afternoon all I wanted to do was explore. My sister and I headed to the woods..where I grabbed this piece of tree bark..for I am sure something can be done with it...one day.

Sometimes I wonder what I got myself into..and other times I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. I am dead tired at the end of the day...but the good kind of tired for it is a day filled with busy feet, a busy mind and clear, cool...fresh air..the kind you know is good for you. 

Best of all...is the time of day, when I drag the camping chair (for it is all we have at the moment)
to a sunny corner of our garden..just before the sun calls it a day.  I grab a beer...which I love at the end of a long outdoorsy kind of day, and contemplate life...the collage of life. :)

Here's to another day...may yours be exceptional!

Jeanne xx


  1. Hi Jeanne, no wonder you are so excited - Tahilla Farm looks amazing. So much character, so many stories, so much history, and I can see why it gave you such a warm feeling almost the moment you set foot inside. And looking through your Dream Home post, I can truly feel your excitement as you contemplate putting your own stamp on it. I can see it already, but will so look forward to following along as you bring your ideas to fruition. You've certainly wasted no time this week. A veritable whirlwind of tradespeople and helpers. Sounds wonderful! Amanda xx

    1. Thank you Amanda..this is when I really appreciate that dream post..keeping my eye on the ball so to speak! I appreciate your encouragement, thank you! xx

  2. Hope you already know of May Sarton, poet, author, journal writer. I began with a thrift store copy of, Plant Dreaming Deep.

    You'll discover a kindred spirit in your garden.

    Looking forward to your stories of gardening...

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    1. Tara...I have to admit this is the first I have heard of the book and am now absolutely thrilled that you suggested it. Thank you so much...xx

      If anyone else reads this wonderful suggestion and would like to know more about this book... here you go..


  3. What wonderful progress - so much to do, but such an adventure. Can hardly wait to see ypur progress. Mr. H and your family will just love it!

  4. All in all, I think you made an excellent choice, but oh, what a lot of work to do. I'm sure, however, you will take it all in stride and turn it into a real heaven on earth. The only drawback for me would be living in such a cold climate. Now that I'm older, I tend to want to hibernate in winter, and at Tahilla I'm afraid I would burrow in and no one would see me until Spring. Looking forward to following the "flowering" of Tahilla Farm. :-) JudyMac

  5. Jeanne

    You have painted such a beautiful picture of Tahilla Farm. You will enjoy every adventure. I can't wait to see the progress!!

  6. Not sure exactly where your farm is but my ancestors could have been your neighbors! They came from England as Puritans and owned homes that looked so traditional like yours in Vermont and Connecticut.
    This adventure looks like a dream....you'll have it made into one in a short amount of time, -the whirlwind way you are going. It will be fun to watch your progress. It sounds like you have the perfect advisors and tradespeople to help. Cheers to your new home!!


  8. Oh Jeanne, I am shaking my head in wonder--in France it would take MONTHS to accomplish what you did this past week! Truly. Well, you know in your heart that it is worth it...

    And speaking of hearts, mine let out quite a sigh at the unbelievably beautiful photo of the dew-covered bud. That well be my new favorite of yours. My goodness. I also posted a dew photo--mine on clover--no surprise we are in sync!

    Bon Courage moving forward,

  9. What a lovely, process of creating at Tahilla your home, your picture of place while holding close the history of the building, the language of the land and the natural beauty that speaks to you at the end of a busy day as you sit and breathe in this place, this home, this love of yours. Walking along with you in the process is like being, perhaps, the writing implement that is putting to the page the thoughts and ideas, the whispers and the symphonies that are pulsating through you as each step, each idea, each plan manifests at Tahilla. Thank you for taking all of us, your cyber and flesh community, along for this journey to that place of your dreaming. The piece of bark called out to me to find some thread and fabric and stitch a bit today...there is much inspiration there for me. Your photos always bring me to the place about which your words describe. I always save your blog to read last when it appears in my in-box.....for in your stories I am able to soar to places around the globe and feel the energy of your travels and projects. Always, always, Jeanne I find something to carry with me throughout the following day(s)....Namaste, Kristin

  10. Hi Jeanne, stangely, I saw a tree bark like yours in my father's garage that we had to emptied because we selled our father's house . I remember that it came from a tree from my father's cottage property that my mother loved so much. I was suppose to keep it but at the end my sister inherited it and surely it would be burnt some day.

  11. Caveat: this is not meant to be a sermon or diatribe, just a suggestion.

    Is Martha Stewart alive? If she is, please consider getting a second opinion, from the forester who is said to be a poet, on whether she must come down...before making your final decision. I live in the half of a wooded city in which nearly every garden has at least one big fir and/or big deciduous tree that could hit a home if it fell. While this terrifies many newcomers to the Pacific Northwest, we oldtimers in the area have seen how rarely such a tree simply falls down, much less onto a home, if the tree has been treated properly by its human stewards (pruning limbs to retain the tree's balance, bracing, etc.). While there always seems to be a tree professional who will advise cutting down an old and/or big tree that is near a home, we have found that there usually also is a forester or an arborist who knows of ways to minimize risk and save the tree...particularly a tree like yours that is on level ground. I don't need to tell you the many reasons that these venerable giants are well worth saving and cherishing.

    Best wishes and thank you for sharing your Tahilla Farm journey with us. Leslie in Portland, Oregon

    P.S. Wonderful May Sarton recommendation, Tara!

  12. Oh Jeanne, what a busy day. But it will all be worth it at the end when you have finally realized your vision for Tahilla Farm.

  13. I am so happy for you, Jeanne, and can relate to every word as so many of those same feelings I experienced when we bought our house in Maine. I can't wait for you to be able to share time there with your family. I know they will see why you fell in love and be glad that you did. Yes, quite a world apart from Saigon. Lucky you to have breaks there at a place that will become very special to you.

  14. It must feel so wonderful to be that much closer to your dream Jeanne... :)
    This is the exciting part... the shaping, the deciding... the unveiling... the discoveries... Enjoy every second...
    Tahilla Farm is already beautiful ... I can only imagine how it will be once you fulfill your vision... xv

  15. Jeanne, your dream is becoming a reality. Oh these are exciting times. Thankfully you are taking us along for the ride. I am sure it is busy, good lord I lost count after the four people today, but it is all on the road to putting your own stamp on this beautiful property.

    The photos of the bud with the dew and the rock wall are stunning, perhaps in your free time (said wi tongue in cheek) you could give photography lessons.

    I hope the rest of your week is fabulous. I would love to know if you slept in the bed you assembled and if you had any problems.

    Take care Jeanne, enjoy every second of your beautiful journey, xxelizabeth

  16. a home for you & your family-how exciting. The process can be nerve wracking but with soo much great reward at the end. Breath,tell yourself you have plenty of time to do everything because you do! At the start of any project it seems overwhelming. Remember you can do it. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  17. How exciting. I am going to enjoy this restoration journey along with you. I am sure that once you are finished, the place will look divine. It already looks lovely.

  18. Luckily, I was able to read this post early this morning as I waited for my Pure Barre class to start! It was wonderful! I understand those vast array of emotions when re-doing a home…but to be buying and re-doing all the way from Vietnam…I cannot imagine! I am so glad for you that you felt so good about it all…and I know it will be wonderful! I would love, love, love to be doing this in a totally foreign part of the country…particularly where no one knew me! LOL! Am I just wanting to escape? I think so! But you my friend will do an expert job of all of it…creating a space for you and your family and friends to get together in the US. I can't wait to follow the progress!

  19. What a beautiful property you have found Jeanne, and the setting! and the stone walls! Wow! Your energy never ceases to amaze me, and now you are juggling two very contrasting lives - the present one in the far east and your future one that will bring you and your family home!
    We all look forward to seeing how Tahilla farm evolves



  20. Glad you're reviewing the trees...and getting the setting right! That's number 1!

  21. Such an adventure! You make me crave the desire to get out there and carve one of my own!

  22. We have been having our floors redone over the past 10 days, a process that sent me, along with Edward and Apple, down to a friend's beautiful home in the marshes. Reading this, I realized what a wimp I am. Though, navigating newly varnished floors with two big furry dogs does make the blood run cold.

    Tahilla sounds heavenly, Jeanne.

  23. Dear Jeanne,

    I have been reading this post and looking at your Pinterest board dreaming of Tahilla Farm...and what do I find in my mail box today? A card from you - from Tahilla Farm. Thank you, Jeanne. It made my day.


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