The Knutson Farm
This Old House sat empty throughout most of the 1960’s. Most of the windows had been broken out and vandals damage things inside of the house. With the house being open for so long, birds, skunks, and raccoons made it their living quarters.
The only running water that was ever in this house was from a hand operated cistern pump in the pantry. The water was pumped from the cistern for washing dishes, taking baths etc. Cisterns usually had to be cleaned about once a year to get bugs, mice, and frogs cleaned out. That is if a person wanted the water to be relatively clean. The drinking water came from a 118 foot deep well a couple hundred yards from the house. The place was wired for electricity in 1947, with a 60 AMP service.
My wife and I purchased the property in 1975. We gave a shotgun eviction notice to the skunks, raccoons, and other critters. Then we proceeded to start repairing all the broken window and everything else, so it seemed. I soon became a proficient glass cutter.
The heavy duty electric wires running overhead from the electric pole to the house had been stolen and sold for scrap copper. My first order of business was to hire an electrician to run a new service wire to the house. I needed the electricity for tools to use in my repairing. That whole process became a very educational experience for me, for all of us. There were only a half dozen trees in the yard, mostly Boxelders, I planted many trees.
There was no bathroom in the house since there had never been running water. Our daughters had their first experience at using an outside bathroom. They did not like baring their bottoms to the outdoor elements, not at all. I promised a bathroom would be the first project.
We didn’t even have an outside toilet, a falling down old barn became our first toilet area. I rescued an outside toilet that someone had recently taken to the dumping ground. I proudly brought that old toilet home on my boat trailer, that must have been a sight to behold. The neighbors watching the city slicker coming down the road with an out-house on his boat trailer.
One of the next things done was to clean the cistern out thoroughly and have a load of fresh water brought in. I installed a pressure water pump in the basement and started my first plumbing experience with plastic pipe and fittings. That all went very well to my surprise. In a very short time, we had our own bathroom, we could poop in the house like the people from the city. That big day was happily celebrated by the girls!
In the 1980’s I added a front porch to the house, the South Wall of the porch was an 8′ by 8′ solar collector. It produced a lot of cheap heat, the only cost was the original materials and the electricity for a bathroom exhaust fan to push the air through it. A few years later I added a 4′ by 8′ solar collector to the south side of the house and a 4′ by 6′ collector on the South kitchen wall. We heated the house with wood when I was able to cut wood, we also had a propane heater for night use and when the solar panels weren’t working. The place didn’t look really neat to those passing by, but we were seeking lower living costs over looks.
We continued to improve that old house inside and out for most of the years we lived there. It became our home, a very special home, we had a lot of ‘Sweat Equity’ invested in it. We purchased the place to start with for a very low price. It was our investment, you might say, a real fixer upper. That might be putting it mildly.
We lived there until 2015 when my health deteriorated to the point we had to sell the place and move into an apartment. That was a very sad day for all of us. The people who bought the place were tickled to death to have an old house and they moved in immediately without having to go through any fixing or repairs.
The newer version of the Old Knutson Farm.