Last weekend, the end of winter was glorious here in Cornwallville. Beaming sunshine, warm winds, and temperatures in the high 50's. If you know me, you would assume that I would be out in the gardens - pruning, raking, and planning new perennial beds. Gardening was certainly on my agenda, but not last weekend.
Instead, I was about to venture into the dark, dusty warm cavern that was our barn.
When we bought the stone house last spring, we had no initial intentions for the barn. It's an unusual structure in that it is tall for it's small width, resembling a squat tower. Built in 1992 by the former owner for her draft horses, it is incredibly sturdy. In fact the house inspector who came to our property during the closing, said "People who love horses will build barns that will last longer than the homes they live in."
Mid-summer last year it came to me; let's turn the barn into a small pottery / showroom. We are here every weekend, the barn is some 50 feet from the road, and it would be a great way to meet people. Stephen was on board and the idea grew from there.
We would not only sell my pottery but, an assortment of all things handmade and grown here at our home, the M.H. Merchant stone house.
We spent the fall and winter working on restoring the house. I knew we wouldn't get to the barn till the spring, but it gave me time to plot our attack.
The first step was the most daunting. Just cleaning the barn would be an undertaking. The hayloft was filled with loose hay, leaves and squirrel dreys. The ground level was littered with old manure and abandoned birds nests, and inside the entire structure were these cobweb like, dust ball dreadlocks hanging from all the rafters and on the walls.
I dove right in with a rake, broom, shovel, and wheelbarrow. I put on a dust mask and climbed into the hayloft. I opened the loft door and and started raking the hay into the wheelbarrow below. I would climb down and empty the wheelbarrow spreading the hay in the woods nearby. I continued this schedule for about an hour before I just started to spread the hay on the drive-way in front of the barn to save time.
When all the hay was out, I swept the hayloft clean, but by no way was it spotless.
I climbed back down to the ground level and began raking all the debris and manure into piles. I then shoveled them into the wheelbarrow and began dumping.
A couple hours later I was finished. I was as dirty as the barn once was. I was covered in hay, dust and manure. Tired and filthy; I felt so gratified that the first step in setting up the pottery was completed.
The next day I woke up to an even more beautiful day, I rushed down to the barn to see what it looked like in the morning light.
It was empty, but I became excited with all the prospects. I rushed around the grounds and into the house to find anything to use as tables or shelves. I found an old crate door in the basement that I thought would make a great table top. As I brought it out into the light I was shocked to find it belonged to M.H. Merchant, our home's original builder. It was a great historic find, I made a quick phone call to Stephen to give him the news and then down to the barn. I was on a mission.
I brought down an old potting bench, some barn wood, and a few tree stumps to use as well. I put some of my old pottery, rusty tins, and found objects on the make shift furniture and the barn had its first quick simple displays.
I know it still looks like a dusty barn with some pots, but there will be a much more to do.
Nothing is permanent, as I know that the next warm day the barn will once again be emptied of its contents and the power-washing and scrubbing will commence. The list will go on. The Cornwallville Pottery has been born.