I slipped through the bars of the loosely secured gate and hurried up the path towards the unknown. I was anxious to be out of sight from the passing motorists, but also cautious about what lay ahead. Once I was halfway up the small hill and hidden behind the wall of wild vegetation which surrounded the property, I relaxed a bit. That was when I noticed a group of cattle—3 adults and 2 calves—eying me lazily. Soon the quiet, ranch-style house came into view. Beside it rested a weathered farm truck.
Situated on a busy thoroughfare in the heart of my town, I had driven by this place thousands of times—and I had explored the small farmhouse on an adjacent property a few years ago. http://www.uer.ca/...=1&threadid=102193
But this plot of farm land had remained shrouded in mystery. You wouldn’t even notice a house there unless you looked at it with an explorer’s eye, trained as it is to notice such abandonments: even then you would see only a small corner of the roof poking out from the towering foliage. Behind the house, grey corrugated metal could be seen here and there, which one could easily conclude were barns.
Like a dutiful explorer, I researched first.
I studied satellite images which showed that behind the overgrowth there was indeed a structure that closely resembled a house. Also visible were various other structures, probably sheds and barns. Smaller structures could be seen, too, but they were situated far away from the others. I was perplexed when I noted these on the satellite image, but upon visiting I discovered that it was a cluster of deer blinds. This proved to be the part of the property with the greatest amount of snakes, so I didn’t spend too much time documenting this particular area.
I watched for activity at different times of the day and night. Visible from the main road was a truck parked at the top of the driveway, which consisted of a dirt path. I noticed that it never moved. Once, I saw in the driveway a truck hauling a trailer full of hay. I remember thinking to myself, “welp, better mark this place off my list—it’s obviously active”. Later I decided to add it back to the list after so much time passed that I saw no vehicles or lights and the property became more and more ensconced in overgrowth.
Interestingly, although trees and brush grew untamed, the ground cover was manageable. We can probably thank the cows for that. In fact, the vegetation proved to be quite an ally: although the location is in a highly trafficked area, once I got up the hill, I was completely hidden by it. And it turned out that it engulfed only the portion of the house that faced the roadway.
Scanning for signs of human life, my eyes fell immediately on the truck parked at the top of the driveway. The weeds that grew up around the tires were proof that it hadn’t moved in awhile. I quickly ascertained that the house was most certainly vacant. This was obvious by a few broken garage door windows and the proliferation of birds and bees nests in the light fixtures and eaves. I peeked into the window and saw the house was empty of furniture.
Getting into the house was extremely easy. There were four doors which accessed the house from the outside—every single one unlocked. Apparently, though, this has not always been the case, as foretold by this door that had been kicked in. Note the broken doorjamb leaning up against the wall.
A shame to see it busted in this way as it seemed the house had been well-kept and lovingly cared for at one time. Upon entering, I was greeted by the delightful aroma of dust, earth and stale air with just a hint of rodent droppings. Acorn shells and petrified bird poop crunched under my feet.
The layout and the woodwork suggested the house was probably built in the 60’s or 70’s. (Tax records confirmed my suspicion: it was built in 1972). Unique stonework filled one entire wall of the living room, which housed the fireplace. The same large stones were laid over the outside front wall, a stately focal point of the front porch.
Although curtains still hung in every window—the billowy, froufrou kind like in your grandma’s house—the house was mostly empty except for a handful of banal cast-offs here and there.
And of course, the requisite lonely chair.
A few decent sized candles, which looked as though they were used for light-production rather than romantic ambiance, were an indication that the place may not be as forgotten as it appears. The presence of livestock and a trash can that was full—but not rancid—were more clues that someone does stop by the property periodically. Also, there was a ridiculous amount of beer cans strewn about. The litterer clearly prefers Bud Light.
In addition to the house, barns and deer blinds, there were several vehicles: two trucks,one unidentified vehicle
(later discovered to be a ’92 Honda Civic hatchback, thanks to http://www.uer.ca/...96807&currpage=68)
, various trailers, an ATV, old farm equipment, and a boat.
And there were lots and lots of bugs. It was like stepping into a time warp and quite mind-blowing actually. This place is surrounded by commerce and development catering to the upwardly mobile, but in this little pocket at the top of the hill, nature reigned. The birds had built nests inside the home—in light fixtures and curtains. The squirrels had left dirt trails throughout the house, tracing from their entrance through a hole in the utility room wall to the chair or kitchen countertop where they shelled and ate their nuts.
A large hawk circled and swooped overhead, and several varieties of small birds flitted all about. But the most captivating fauna was found in the barn: several hens, 2 roosters (tethered to the ground), and a handful of pheasants. I caught a glimpse of a kitten poking its head out from inside the barn.
Through research using county tax appraisal records and good ol Google search, it appears this entire property (including the small farmhouse referenced above) was owned by a husband and wife until the husband passed away in 2000. The deed was then transferred to the wife’s name until she sold it to a property management company in 2007. Interestingly, she is registered as a realtor in my town. Not sure how active she is, though, as the business address listed on the web is that of this abandoned location.
I began to feel a pressing need to explore this place as new development encroached further upon the farmland’s barbed-wire barrier. A large For Sale sign has been prominently displayed here for years. All the neighboring land has been sold to commercial investors, razed, and covered with parking lots and retail establishments. I felt it was only a matter of time until this quiet farmland met the same fate. My suspicions were confirmed, perhaps, by these plans I discovered casually spread out inside the home.
I’m glad I finally satisfied my curiosity about what lay beyond the brush, but questions remain. Who lived here? What will become of this property? Who drinks this much Bud Light? Perhaps most perplexing is: Who is feeding the chickens?