Coming Together

The “old” new addition is beginning to come together.  The barn building is slowly taking shape.

The cement pillars now have mammoth wooden beams resting on them.  As your eyes follow those old beams upward they are connected with cross pieces attaching the framework together. Held together just as they were years ago with wooden pegs keeping one timber to another.  The only part not original is the roof trusses and roofing but are distressed to try to keep the vintage appeal.

I wasn’t too confident when my husband took this project on but now I can see that he has an ingenious mind.   To be able to take apart a barn that is over 100 years old with out a blueprint and be able to piece it back together is quite amazing.  When I walk around the beams laid out in the field he points out each one knowing where they should go.  The gears in his mind are always grinding coming up with options and solutions.  Reconstructing to preserve the original barn and making sure that it fits into the atmosphere of our old country farm.

I am now confident that this “old” new addition will look as if it had been on our farm for over 100 years just like the barn that it will be resting next too.

Diamond in the Rough

Have you ever started a simple project and next thing you know it works into much more than what was originally planned?

We originally decided to build a simple lean-to off the Old Indian Creek hip roof barn but then it becomes this huge undertaking of moving a barn that will become an awesome addition!

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The old barn – diamond in the rough Just waiting to be taken down piece by piece to be erected back up on our farm.

It seems like when you least expect it opportunities present themselves to you.  My husband had an inquiry about  demolition an old barn on their property afraid of personal injury.  So, one Sunday afternoon we went on a road trip to check the barn out.  As we pulled up we were surprised to discover that it was in great shape.  Making our way down the lane I noticed the broken fence that was hanging on the post, once a barrier keeping the cows in and strangers out.  Weeds were waist-high, with years of growth allowing them to tangle amongst themselves.  Once we got closer to the mammoth beast  we discovered what the demise was the foundation that was beginning to crumple underneath the tall beauty’s weight.  Honeysuckle vines were clinging to the faded red barn siding trying to keep it protected from the harsh weather.    At the peak of the barn was a cathedral style window still intact indifferent to the  many years of Michigan’s unpredictable weather beating against the glass.

I was in awe of the stone foundation that was strategically stacked by hand over one hundred years ago, now just beginning to fall out-of-place.  Each granite stone different from each other, hues of green, blue, gray, black, white, and red.  Each field stone hand cut and fit in together, one on top of another, to create a work of art situated in the countryside where only the farmer would appreciate its beauty.

Working our way around the rustic gambrel roof structure we peaked inside the basement the hay bunk and cow stanchions still stood wondering when the cows would come home.  I stood imagining how farming must have been over hundred years ago when farming was a common profession.   You could almost see the cows standing there with their heads in the stanchions, munching on the fresh silage snack, the farmer walking behind talking to each of them as he placed the milk machine on each cow.  The chickens running around pecking the ground looking for tidbits of corn.

Climbing the narrow rickety stairs upstairs it opened up to the vast hay mow.  Faded piles of loose hay were the only remnants of when it was a probably packed to the rafters with hay and straw to feed the livestock all year-long.  Wide tongue and groove plank walled off the corner where the granary once stored the oats, wheat or corn for feed.  A mixture of hand hewed and milled beams crisscrossed each other from the floor to the roof.  The hard wood beams stretched the length and height of the barn held together by wooden pegs or chiseled joints.  Every beam solid and stately keeping the mammoth rustic barn from collapsing in a heap year after year while the relentless seasonal weather tries to push it over.

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Taking the barn down piece by piece

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Every timber or board is kept so that the barn can be put back up just like it originally was.

After admiring this diamond in the rough we began to dream of how we could relocate the barn to Old Indian Creek Farm.  The dream is now becoming a reality as the red wood siding,  massive wood beams, wide plank flooring, windows, doors and even the cut field stone is taken apart one at a time.  Hauled on our semi trailer from one historic farm to another.  Where the one time stately agriculture structure will be rehabilitated so that others can once again appreciate what it once was.

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Site where the new/old barn will be erected back up piece by piece. The pillars are the new foundation for the addition.

 

Summer Harvest

 

IMG_1124 (2).JPGWith the looming doom of drought hanging over us the harvest of the golden wheat at the
farm is a small ray of sunshine.  Unlike the slow-growing soybeans and corn the wheat thrived over the winter and spring to produce a prosperous crop.  I only wished that we had more than just a small 35 acre field.

Harvesting the wheat is such a beautiful process.  The combine reels in the tall yellow stalks into the head, spiraling around the auger.  The stalks rolling from each end until they meet in the middle quickly pulled into the mouth of the combine disappearing into the intricate machine. Grinding and growling, inside the massive machine the wheat head is thrashed among the rollers where the kernels are separated from the stalk. Careful not to crush the kernel.  Behind the cab you can watch as the grain is pouring out of the auger into the bin as a pile of gold climbs to the top.  The blowers blow the chaff away from the wheat kernel and the remaining parts are spit out the back. As the combine crawls across the field piles of bright yellow straw lay in rows as proof that the wheat has been harvested. IMG_1086.JPG These abandoned rows of stalks will later become golden bales of straw to be used as bedding for the livestock.

IMG_1107.JPGThe golden wheat harvest is like a ray of hope.  Hopeful that the fall crop harvest can be as bountiful as the summer harvest.  Hopeful for some well needed rain for the hundreds of acres we have crying for rain. Hopeful that all the hard work, long hours and money we have into the crop will reap some profit to continue for another year of growth.   Hopeful that God will grace us with the one thing that we can’t provide… rain.  IMG_1127.JPGIMG_1151.JPG

Doors opened

My husband and I started our logging business, Shrontz Farm Logging, shortly after we were married over 25 years ago. Brad’s philosophy is when a door of opportunity opens you have two choices:  either close it and always wonder where it would have taken you or youIMG_0520 walk through the open door and take a ride of your life.  The opportunity presented itself  when L.L. Johnson’s Lumber needed a truck to haul logs from their jobs to the lumber yard.  So, with about $20 in the bank and an old Meijer  1970’s Chevy Titan cab over Semi that we used around the farm our adventure began  Shrontz Farm Logging business started and we were unsure about what we were getting ourselves into, hoping we could make a living.  Brad started with hauling logs off the jobs and then they needed a cutting crew.   Brad knew nothing about the forestry business but this didn’t stop his determination.  I might have thought he was crazy.  We hired a true old timer lumberjack, Denny, and so began Brad’s apprenticeship.IMG_0507
Over the years we leaned from the best in the industry and our logging business went through many growing phases.  We upgraded equipment when the lumbering business was good and at one point had three crews cutting.  It was a great supplement to our farming business when that wasn’t as profitable.  Brad has trained other’s over the years to work in the woods.
As our son,Trent grew up he had the same passion for the woods and was beginning to run the skidder pulling out logs working with his dad to learn the trade.
We went through some good times and plenty of rough times; injuries, debt, breakdowns, weather, low pay rates, etc. Always managing to work through the hardships and celebrating when it was good.  We always hoped that Trent would want to join the business but it was not meant to be as he was killed in a quad accident at the young age of 14.  It was extremely hard for Brad to find that passion after Trent passed away but he pushed on.  It became more and more difficult to keep it going for a variety of reasons but as we moved through another phase of our life another door opened and we chose once again to enter.  We made a difficult decision to sell the logging equipment and accept the opportunity to expand the family trucking business with our daughter and her son-in-law.   Our daughter had always had a passion for semi-trucks and bought one for herself, hired a driver and began her business then we joined forces.  Along with expanding the trucking business,  Old Indian Creek Farm rustic wedding venue was born and now begins another journey in our lives.
Before, Brad hangs up his chainsaw and helmet though he accepted an unusual logginIMG_0541g job, one that involves skidding with draft horses.  A local farmer has a woods that needs harvesting so it can allow the young trees to mature.  They hired Brad to cut the woods because he was willing to work with them so they could skid their logs out with their own horses and the local draft horse club.  So, today I watched as he skillfully fell some large white oak trees and teams of draft horses pull the logs out of the woods.   One very special team was a pair of black and white drafts, Chance and Misty.  the owner behind the reins guiding the team, our daughter Ashley.
AltIMG_0476hough we dreamed of our son, Trent taking an interest in the logging business we never once thought that our daughter would one day be skidding out logs from her dad’s job site with a pair of horses.  IMG_0536
So, has a door closed or has it opened?
Maybe, it’s just a new phase!
Misty and Chance love the chance to work whether it’s pulling a wagon for IMG_0534a special event or skidding out logs.  And well, our daughter, Ashley loves the excuse to get out of the office at the farm and take a break from the trucking business to work with her horses. IMG_0495

A Day to Remember

Weddings are a day of magic and joy but when one of your loved ones can only be with you in spirit  it can be emotional for the bride an groom. There are many ways that you can include your heavenly loved one on your special day.  Figuring that out comes from  your heart. Never worry about what others will think because this is your day and remembering is part of honoring the special relationship that you had with your loved one who is no longer here on Earth but is your guardian angel.  Think about your loved one’s personality or passions and how to blend them together in your wedding theme. Allow yourself to be creative! It’s therapy!

Memorials can be just a small gesture or it can be more elaborate depending on what you are comfortable with.

Ideas:

  •  Photo charms on the bride’s bouquet, shoes, necklace, bracelet, or boutonniere
  • Designate a chair in honor of your loved one with a picture
  • Photo table – Mason Jar with photo inside – Rustic Screen door / Window / Chalk board with photos displayed
  • Favorite colors incorporated
  • Special songs  incorporated into the ceremony or dance
  • Artifacts or items that have special meaning included into the decor
  • Have the minister include a memory or message
  • Someone from the bridal party, bride or groom speak or have a moment of silence to remember
  • Light a candle
  • I collected ideas on my Old Indian Creek Farm Pinterest account for you  https://www.pinterest.com/kristineshrontz/remember-loved-ones-at-your-wedding/

At my daughter’s wedding she honored her brother and he honored his father.  More than anything they wanted them to be able to celebrate their day with them.  They had an outdoor country wedding theme.  We hung photos on Shepard hooks going down the aisle, they each picked a special song to play during the ceremony and I decorated Trent and Jerry’s boots to put on the head table.

It was a bittersweet day for both families, missing absent loved ones, and celebrating a special moment.  Trent and Jerry smiled down on them during the ceremony with a perfectly shaped heart cloud.

 

 

Proposal

MSL028-Crisp-Point-Light-1Some people think that proposal traditions are antique and should be abandoned but I say they should not be forgotten.  These are the special moments that will be the beginning  of a life long relationship.

Three years ago on December 29th my daughter, Ashley was proposed to.  A couple weeks prior to his proposal Jake had nervously asked her dad for permission for Ashley’s hand in marriage.  Some would say that it is old fashion but as a parent I consider it a sign of great respect and an honor.  We then anxiously waited for the special moment to come when he would ask the question.

Christmas came and went but still nothing.  Our family tradition during Christmas break for many years has been to head to the Upper Peninsula.  We stay for several days riding snowmobiles with friends.   So, we figured that this was where Jake would pop the question.  Ashley was even getting anxious because she had an inkling.

Finally my husband intervened and had a private talk with Jake to find out what the plan was going to be.  Jake had forgotten the ring at home. Lucky for him his mother and step-dad were also coming up north and they were bringing the ring.  Together they discussed different picturesque places we could go on our snowmobiles so he could ask Ashley.

That moment presented itself when we rode on snowmobiles through the winding snowy trails to Crisp Pointe Lighthouse on Lake Superior.  It was a crisp but cloudy day with the wind blowing slightly off the mighty Lake.  The lake had not yet froze over so the waves were rolling on to the shore.  Jake took Ashley for a walk along the beach as we stood on the boardwalk watching. The wind was blowing and so it was like watching a silent movie.  He bent down on his knee and took hold of her hands.  Then they were rolling on the beach, hugging and kissing.

And so their lives began on the sandy, snow covered beach on Lake Superior.  Both families and fiends honored to be a part in that special moment to be treasured a life time.

Salvaged Barn

Once a majestic architectural building is now just a ran shackled pile of remains of the old days.  The excavator machine  seems to come alive  clamping  on to wooden beams and chunks of wood. Twisting and turning the excavator grabs and drops heavy wood. As it reaches for the roof the claw on the bucket just eats through the roof that was caved in from the many years of storms and lack of upkeep.  It crumbles in a heap.  Then it reaches up and out as far as it can go grabbing hold of the wall. Pulling on the side it creaks and groans but won’t let go until finally it can’t hold on anymore it smashes in one whole piece on the ground.  The machine tracks over the piles of crumpled up wood, clank, clank, clank.  Reaching out for more wood to satisfy it’s hunger. Finally, it comes to a rest. 

We rummage through the remains searching for anything that might be worth salvaging.  “This barn was a beauty in her day wasn’t she?”  I ask.

Just a barn but built to last for generations.  Looking closely at the beams you can see that they are hand hewed.  Each beam beginning its life as a tree then carefully hand constructed by a broad ax into the square pillars that held the barn for so many years.  Each beam has hand carved notches and corresponding holes with hand made pegs to interlock all together giving the structure  more strength when they would load it to the peak with mounds of hay.  The only nails used were the ones to keep the red, wooden tongue and grove siding in place on the outside. 

Looking around at the heap of wood it’s sad to see another architectural wonder fall victim to the storms and lack of care.  We were told that the original elderly couple that lived there before them received money from the insurance company when a storm came through.  They paid a local construction company to fix the roof so the barn could carry on for another hundred years but he started the job only to not come back and fix it. 

Lucky, though we have plans for this barn to carry on it’s legacy because we have one of those big hip roofed red barns that we are trying to restore to her natural beauty.  So, all of those hand hewn beams, interlocking hard wood flooring and red siding that hasn’t rotted away from this barn will be used to help another.  Salvaging one to save another. 

 

 

 


 

Firsts

~IMG_1183It’s hard to believe that a year ago my daughter was expecting her first child.  Her husband already had twoIMG_1170 children ages six and two so, this baby made the house full.   DSC_857114195The anticipation for the big day was exciting for us.  We hosted a late fall baby shower at The Old Indian Creek Farm.  Even though it was a chilly November day we cranked up the heaters in the old Tool Shed and had a great time celebrating the arrival of baby Clair.  The vintage baby theme was cute at the farm, with an antique baby buggy, DSC_862514249 (1)vintage toys, and mason jars filled with letters.  Our friend made a cute lamb cake.  She does a wonderful job making moist cake with rich frosting while incorporating the theme in the decorations.  We played the dirty diaper game trying to guess which candy bar was melted in the diaper.  And of course the guess the nursery rhyme game in which the Great Grandmas and Great Aunts rocked at.  It was a fun afternoon.DSC_851714141IMG_1192DSC_860814232-3

They also captured the pregnancy milestone with some family photos taken by our family friend, Nick Barnes Photography.  Nick is just a young man of 16 years that started a photography business and is very successful.

It’s a privilege and a joy to watch families begin their first memories made at Old Indian Creek Farm.

The Old Grainery

 

DSC_36819909Sitting in amongst the other rustic barns sits a grainery. DSC_392610121 At one time it’s purpose was to store the grain that was harvested on the farm that was to be used to feed all the livestock for the upcoming winter.  Rats were always a nuiscense on the farm.  Chewing through anything that seemed editable and destroying it.  Farmers were always purposeful when designing their buildings especially when it came to Preserving the stored food. So, it was for that reason that they built the graineries up off the ground often times on corner posts with a metal skirt that way rats and other varmin couldn’t climb up and get in the barn. The grainery at Old Indian Creek Farm has a stone foundation around the base.

I’ve cleaned out the grainery, leaving the two grain stalls intact. It will now serve as a changing area for the groomsmen. It is furnished with rustic farm and auto decorations. Hopefully it will serve as a hangout while waiting for the event to begin.20151002_18121120151002_181138

Fall Wedding

Today I am excited for Megann and Chris as they venture into a new life together I feel lucky enough that my farm was the beginning for the new couple.  This is the first wedding in the old hip roof barnP1010293 on the new floor.  The October day couldn’t beP1010274 more perfect.  The sun is shinning with a few wispy clouds floating in the sky.  Trees are just beginning to turn bright orange, yellow and red.  There is only a sli-
ght hint of a breeze blowing in the air.

The atP1010268mosphere is calm and relaxed just as I hoped it would be.  Megann has a glow about her and looks the perfect bride.  Everything is set up perfect for the season with the bales of bright yellow straw, orange pumpkins, and shocks of corn stalks.  Her Uncle made her a wonderful twig arbor that fits perfect with the rustic backdrop.

My wish for Megann and Chris that they had a perfect day and P1010278that their life together is filled with many more wonderful memories.  Thank you for trusting me with your special day!


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