I have to admit something. I get somewhat perturbed when someone asks me if I own a pair of ruby slippers. Wizard of Oz references are fine, I guess. But it’s fascinating to me how little people in the United States know about Kansas.
I spent this past week in the Philadelphia area, and I talked to a gentleman who wasn’t even sure where Kansas was on the map. Really? Wow.
But I’m kind of weird. I love Kansas. I love the gently rolling hills and the vast blue skies. I love the bipolar weather and the varied assortment of insects. But maybe it’s because I love my home so much.
And it’s not just me. Everybody who walks in the door at Safe Haven Farm lets out a sigh of relief like they’ve just left all their burdens in some other life. I’ve been told it feels like coming home—and that’s from somebody who had never been there before.
So today I thought I’d share a little bit about my home—Safe Haven Farm.
It’s not a “real” farm, I guess. We only have five acres, but that keeps us busy. When I was younger we raised chickens and 4H market lambs. We had dogs and cats and laying hens. We had a goat at one point (that’s a whole different story). And we used to have a huge garden. As the years have gone by, many of those things had to fall to the wayside, but we’re coming back to the time of life when some of them may be possible again.
The house was built in 1915, which means we’re getting ready to celebrate its centennial. A mansion for the era, it has huge walk-in closets and beautiful wood floors. In the 1980s, the owners at the time paid to have a full basement poured under it.
Yes, poured. They picked the house up with Bobcats and poured the basement under it. And that almost doubled the house’s square footage. Right now, the place is about 3,500 square feet, and up until this year, I’d lived there alone for six years. Talk about an adventure.
When we moved in back in 1994, the house had no central heating or air. There was a wood stove in the basement, and there were two propane space heaters—one in the living room (the original parlor) and one in the dining room.
I will never forget the winter of 1994 as long as I live. I have never been so cold in my entire life. That winter, one of the second floor closets (with zero climate control) got down to 11 degrees.
The following spring, we had central heating installed. But we made it a couple of summers without central air. And even when we broke down and had it installed, my dad and grandpa installed the duct work themselves.
The second floor, however, still doesn’t have any form of climate control. No heating. No central air. Just two window units for summer and an amazingly efficient electric blanket for winter. I love to sleep cold, so the winter isn’t a problem.
Well, it’s only a problem when the outside gets to -20. When it’s 16 or so degrees on the second level, that’s where I draw the line. That’s a little chilly for me.
Inside the house, the wood floors are either painted or stained, and they’re still original. It’s actually the original subfloor, so you can go down to the basement and look up. The flooring you see from the basement is the same floor you walk on.
The house had two chimneys, one at the center of the house and one at the south end. Neither functions now, although the one at the south still exists and runs through a kitchen cabinet and my office on the second floor. The wood stove came later, and the stovepipe runs all the way through the floors up out of the roof.
The walls are plaster covered with wallpaper or painted. Many of the windows are original, so when you look out, you have to gaze past the waves in the glass. And more than a dozen quirks and eccentricities really take it from being just an old house to a truly wonderful home.
It’s not convenient. No dishwasher. One bathroom with a tiny shower. Full of dust and brown recluses.
But, oh, it’s home. And it’s not just home to me but home to everyone who walks through the door. And it may be clichéd but it’s so very true. Because there really is no place like home.