I can happily report that I have now been to the farm. Twice, actually. The first trip was this past Thursday and the second was just yesterday. On Thursday, Julia and I went up but were unable to check out the cabin interior, so instead we trekked across the property to see what condition things were in. As mentioned in my previous post, the land has gone relatively unused for the past 8 years. As such, things are quite overgrown. The grass, on average, comes up to about my knees (I’m 5’ 11’’) and many locations which I’m told were at one point clear and open are now thick with branches and vines. That said, no amount of overgrowth could ever obscure the beauty of this place. From sweeping views of valleys, to a hillside full of towering eucalyptus, to the water that springs from the ground on one end of the property, the landscape fills me with inspiration and excitement. These sensations were furthered yesterday when we returned with all of Julia’s family to inspect the cabin interior and do a little bit of cleaning up. The cabin, while in great need of basic repairs, is a beautifully simple testament to the strength and attractiveness of teak (“teca”, in Spanish). The ground floor is one, large room with an extended loft area acting as the second floor. The entirety of the loft and much of the first floor are made of reclaimed teak wood which Julia’s father told me came from the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste. Teak, if you didn’t know, is invulnerable to wood rot and/or wood eating insects thanks to its high level of silica. The cabin, as the pictures accompanying this post will show, extends horizontally from the hillside on which it lays. The section of the cabin which rests on solid ground features a tiled flooring. This section is also home to the kitchen and the bathroom. The kitchen, at the moment, is just a sink set into a concrete slab which in turn is set into a sunken window. There exists a socket where an electric stove once was, but other than that the sink is the only kitchen appliance present. The bathroom features a toilet and shower stall. The toilet, which connects to a septic tank at the bottom of the property, is quite old and will need to be replaced entirely. The shower stall is built of cinder blocks and cement which gives it a sturdy feel, but lacks anything pleasing to the eye. A feature of the shower which may be novel to some readers is the “drain”. The reason for quotations is that this is not a shower drain in the typical sense. It is, in reality, a hole that leads from the floor of the shower to the exterior of the cabin. I see this as a great opportunity to make use of gray water by using the runoff from the shower to water a bed of plants. I’ve read about reed beds being used as amazing filtration systems for gray water so maybe that’ll turn into a cool project.
Speaking of projects, I’ve been thinking about where I’ll start in the renovations. The cabin’s electricity stands out as one of the more daunting tasks. Over the years, individuals have stolen components of the cabin while it was unoccupied. These range from the original sink, to the hanging lights, to—you guessed it—all of the wiring that once provided electricity to the cabin. The good news, however, is that the cabin requires fairly minimal electricity. In other words…It could be a lot worse. Before wiring, however, I am going to start work on the cabin by implementing some basic reinforcements. The first will be to add two more columns in support of the loft. Also for the loft, I’ll add 3 or 4 additional cross-beams. After that, I will focus on the securing of the cabin doors. Door knobs with locks will need to be installed and I will have to find some latches that will work to lock the large, wooden sliding door at the main entrance of the cabin. That sliding door, which currently hangs from a metal rail above the entryway, also requires the addition of a bottom rail to minimize swinging and prevent misalignment.
Outside of the cabin, I have a few projects in mind as well. Julia’s parents are planning on acquiring some sort of brush clearing device (industrial weed wacker, clearing saw, other…) which I’ll use to clean up the driveway so that her father and I can install a proper, metal gate at the entrance to the property. The clearing project will continue up the main road, most likely finishing (for now) at the top of the hill in a small grove of eucalyptus. Back at the cabin, I am going to plant grass on the small plateau immediately to the side of the building. This will make what is currently a dirt patch look much nicer in addition to adding a root network which will (hopefully) prevent erosion. I don’t have a timeline decided yet, but I want to get to work as soon as possible as there is much to do. As always, if anyone reading this has experience with renovating homes or dealing with larger scale landscaping, please send any and all advice my way via the comments section or the contact form. Thanks for reading!