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Produced by Mark C. Orton, Diane Monico, and the Project
Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
http://www.pgdp.net









IF YOU'RE GOING
TO LIVE IN
THE COUNTRY

[Illustration: A RIVERSIDE HOME RECONSTRUCTED FROM THE RUINS OF AN OLD
MILL

_Photo by Samuel H. Gottscho_ _Robertson Ward, architect_]




IF YOU'RE GOING
TO LIVE IN
THE COUNTRY

BY THOMAS H. ORMSBEE
AND RICHMOND HUNTLEY

[Illustration]

DECORATIONS BY FRANK LIEBERMAN

[Illustration]

THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY
PUBLISHERS NEW YORK




COPYRIGHT, 1937

BY THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any
form except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review
to be printed in a magazine or newspaper.

MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BY THE VAIL-BALLOU PRESS, INC., BINGHAMTON, N. Y.




To
CARROLL
and
THERESE
NICHOLS




ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


No book that covers so many phases of human relationships could be
compiled without taking advice from those who are specialists. When we
have wanted to know facts, we have freely turned to others whose
detailed knowledge represented long experience. For this assistance we
are particularly indebted to: M. Shaler Allen, Bruce Millar, Mrs.
Herbert Q. Brown, and George S. Platts; also, to _House & Garden_, in
which parts of this book appeared serially; and to Miss Eleanor V.
Searing for many hours spent reading manuscript.

New Canaan, Conn.
April 1937




CONTENTS


PAGE

INTRODUCTION xi

CHAPTER

I. WHY LIVE IN THE COUNTRY 3

II. SELECTING THE LOCATION 19

III. SHOPPING FOR PROPERTY 35

IV. CALL IN AN ARCHITECT 57

V. BUILDING VERSUS REMODELING 73

VI. LOOKING AN OLD HOUSE IN THE MOUTH 91

VII. NEW SITES FOR OLD HOUSES 105

VIII. THE SMOKE GOES UP THE CHIMNEY 121

IX. THE QUESTION OF WATER SUPPLY 139

X. SEWAGE SAFETY 153

XI. DECORATIONS AND FURNISHINGS 165

XII. THE FACTORY PART OF THE HOUSE 179

XIII. PETS AND LIVESTOCK 191

XIV. TIGHTENING FOR WINTER 203

XV. KEEPING HOME FIRES IN THEIR PLACE 215

XVI. WHEN THINGS GO WRONG 227

XVII. WORKING WITH NATURE 243




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


A riverside home reconstructed from the ruins of an
old mill _Frontispiece_
_Robertson Ward, architect. Photo by Gottscho_

FACING PAGE

The Ogden house, Fairfield, Conn. Built before 1705,
it has been restored to preserve the original details 12
_Miss Mary Allis_

An old farmhouse in the rough 36
_Photo by John Runyon_

A really Early American interior. The great fireplace
of the Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Mass. 60
_Henry Ford_

Once half a house and a hen roost 76
_Photo by Whitney_

What can be done with a barn 76
_Robertson Ward, architect. Photo by Gottscho_

As they built a chimney in the 18th Century 118
_Photo by John Runyon_

A place for summer and week-ends 148
_Robertson Ward, architect. Photo by La Roche_

True 18th Century simplicity. Now the authors' dining room 170
_Photo by John Runyon_

Entirely new, but with all the charm of an old house 184
_Robertson Ward, architect. Photo by Gottscho_

Snow has dignity, but is the house snug and warm? 206
_Photo by Gottscho_

An imposing country home of classic dignity 220
_Robertson Ward, architect. Photo by Gottscho_

Skillful planting of trees, shrubs, and flowers make the
setting 244
_Robertson Ward, architect. Photo by Gottscho_

[Illustration]




INTRODUCTION


There is a beginning with everything. So far as this book is
concerned, annual driving trips through Central Vermont are
responsible. They were great events, planned months in advance. With a
three-seated carriage and a stocky span good for thirty miles a day
and only spirited if they met one of those new contraptions aglitter
with polished brass gadgets, that fed on gasoline instead of honest
cracked corn and oats, we took to the road. A newspaper man,
vacation-free from Broadway first nights and operas sung by Melba,
Sembrich, and the Brothers de Reszke, was showing his city-bred
children his native hills and introducing them to the beauties of a
world alien to asphalt pavements and brownstone fronts.

It was leisurely travel. When the road was unusually steep, to spare
the horses, we walked. If Mother's eagle eye spotted a four-leaf
clover, we stopped and picked it. If a bend in the road brought a
pleasing prospect into view, the horses could be certain of ten
minutes for cropping roadside grass. Most of all, no farmhouse
nestling beneath wide-spread maples or elms went without careful
consideration of Father's constant daydream, a home in the country.

These driving trips often included overnight stops with relatives
living in villages undisturbed by the screech and thunder of freight
and way trains, or with others living on picturesque old farms.
Afterward there was always lively conversation concerning the
possibilities of Cousin This or That's home as a country place. This
reached fever heat after visits to Great Aunt Laura who lived in a
roomy old house painted white with green blinds in a town bordering on
Lake Champlain. A pair of horse-chestnut trees flanked the walk to the
front door, - a portal unopened save for weddings, funerals, and the
minister's yearly call.

From here could be seen the sweep of the main range of the Green
Mountains. The kitchen doorway afforded a view of Mount Marcy and the
Adirondacks never to be forgotten. It was the ancestral home with all
the proper attributes, horse barn, woodshed, tool houses, and a large
hay barn. Father's dream for forty years was to recapture it and
settle down to the cultivation of rustic essays instead of its
unyielding clay soil. However, he was first and last a newspaper man
and his practical side told him that Shoreham was too far from
Broadway. So it remained a dream.

His city-born and bred son inherited the insidious idea. Four years in
a country college augmented it and, as time went on, the rumble of
trucks and blare of neighboring radios turned a formerly quiet street
on Brooklyn Heights into a bedlam and brought matters to a head. Great
Aunt Laura's place was still too far away but explorers returning from
ventures into the far reaches of Westchester County, and western
Connecticut, had brought back tales of pleasantly isolated farmhouses
with rolling acres well dotted with trees and stone fences. Here,
thanks to the automobile and commuting trains, was the solution. A
country place near enough to the city, so that the owner could have
his cake and eat it, too.

After some months of searching and several wild goose chases, a modest
little place was found. The original plan was to live there just a few
weeks in the summer, possibly from June into September, but the period
stretched a bit each year. Now it is the year around. We are but one
of many families that have traded the noise and congestion of city
life for the quiet and isolation of the open country. Nor do all such
cling to the commuting fringe of the larger cities. A good proportion
have their country homes some hours' distant, and the city is only
visited at infrequent intervals.

Wherever his country place is located, however, there are certain
problems confronting the city dweller who takes to rural life. They
are the more baffling because they are not problems at all to his
country-bred neighbors. The latter assume that any adult with a grain
of common sense must know all about such trifles as rotten sills, damp
cellars, hornets that nest in the attic, frozen pipes in winter, and
wells that fail in dry seasons.

Of course, no one treatise can hope to serve as a guide for every
problem that comes with life in the open country. This book is no
compendium. It concerns itself only with the most obvious pitfalls
that lie ahead of one inured to well-serviced city life.




WHY LIVE IN THE COUNTRY?

[Illustration]




_CHAPTER I_

WHY LIVE IN THE COUNTRY?


The urge to live in the country besets most of us sooner or later.
Spring with grass vividly green, buds bursting and every pond a bedlam
of the shrill, rhythmic whistle of frogs, is the most dangerous
season. Some take a walk in the park. Others write for Strout's farm
catalogues, read them hungrily and are well. But there are the
incurables. Their fever is fed for months and years by the discomforts
and amenities of city life. Eventually they escape and contentedly
become box numbers along rural postal routes.

Why do city-bred people betake themselves to the country? The surface
reasons are as many as why they are Republicans or Democrats, but the
basic one is escape from congestion and confusion. For themselves or
their children their goal is the open country beyond the suburban
fringe. Here the children, like young colts, can be turned out to run
and race, kick up their heels and enjoy life, free of warnings to be
quiet lest they annoy the elderly couple in the apartment below or the
nervous wreck the other side of that suburban privet hedge.

The day and night rattle and bang of the city may go unnoticed for
years but eventually it takes its toll. Then comes a great longing to
get away from it all. If family income is independent of salary earned
by a city job, there is nothing to the problem. Free from a desk in
some skyscraper that father must tend from nine to five, such a family
can select its country home hours away from the city. Ideal! But few
are so fortunate. Most of us consider ourselves lucky to have that
city job. It is to be treated with respect and for us the answer lies
in locating just beyond those indefinite boundaries that limit the
urban zone. With the larger cities, this may be as much as fifty miles
from the business center; with smaller ones the gap can be bridged
speedily by automobile.

Going to live in the country, viewed dispassionately as an
accountant's balance sheet, has attributes that can be recorded in
black ink as well as those that require a robust crimson. If you
really want a place where you need not be constantly rubbing elbows
with the rest of the world; where you can cultivate something more
ambitious than window boxes or an eight by ten pocket-handkerchief
garden; where subways and street clatter can be forgotten; your black
column will be far longer than the one in red. But if nothing feels so
good to your foot as smooth unyielding pavements; if the multicolored
electric sign of a moving picture palace is more entrancing than a
vivid sunset; you are at heart a city bird, intended by temperament to
nest behind walls of brick and steel. There is nothing you can do
about it either. In the country the nights are so black; the birds at
dawn too noisy; and Nature when she storms and scolds, is a fish-wife.
Possibly you can learn to endure it all but will the game be worth the
candle? Without true fondness for outdoors and an inner urge for a
measure of seclusion, life in the country is drear. Don't attempt it.

But for those who care for the cool damp of evening dew; the first
robin of spring hopping pertly across the grass; or a quiet winter
evening with a good book or a radio program of their own choosing
rather than that of the people living across the hall; country life is
worth every cent of its costs and these bear lightly.

Along Fifth avenue, New York, not far from the Metropolitan Museum, is
a typical town house. A man of means maintains it for social and
business reasons. But he does not live there. His intimates know that
only a few minutes after the last dinner guest has departed, his
chauffeur will drive him some twenty miles to a much simpler abode on
a secluded dirt road. Here, he really lives. Whistling tree toads
replace the constant whir of buses and taxicabs.

Most of us cannot be so extravagant. We are fortunate to have one
home, either in the city or the country. Renting or buying it entails
sacrifices, and maintaining it has its unexpected expenses that always
come at the wrong time. What do those who live beyond the limits of
cities and sophisticated villages gain by hanging their crane with the
rabbits and woodchucks?

First, country living is the answer to congestion. Even the most
modest country cottage is more spacious than the average city
apartment. Life in such a house may be simple but not cramped. There
is light and air on all sides. This may seem unimportant but did you
ever occupy an apartment where the windows opened on a court or were
but a few feet from the brick wall of another warren for humans? If
the sun reached your windows an hour or two a day, you were lucky. In
a country house there is sunlight somewhere on pleasant days from
morning to night. That difference can only be understood by those who
have known both ways of living.

In town, light and air cost money; along the rural postal routes it is
as much a part of the scheme of things as summer insects or winter
snows. And it may have a very definite bearing on the well being of
all members of the family. Some suffer more than they realize from
lack of sunlight. Frequently it is the children and, with many
families, decision to move countryward is on their account. In fact,
there be some, where father and mother, if they consulted their own
preferences, would stay in a city apartment convenient to theatres and
shops, with friends and acquaintances close at hand. But their small
children lack robustness. The parents try everything, careful diet,
adequate hours of sleep and all the other recommendations of
scientific child rearing. Still the little arms and legs continue to
be spindling. Tonics and cod liver oil fail to get rid of that pinched
look, the concomitant of too little sunlight and too many hours
indoors. In desperation such a family betakes itself to the country.
The children weather tan. They respond to the more placid life and
gradually gain the much sought after hardiness. Nature has been the
physician without monthly bills for house or office treatments.

The children are not the only ones who gain. Healthy adults renew
their energy and crave activity. Here opportunity lies close at hand.
It may be swinging a golf club or going fishing. It may be such
unorganized methods of stretching muscles and increasing breathing as
pushing a lawn mower, raking leaves or weeding the delphinium border.
All these sports and homely out-of-door duties and pleasures are
nearby, many of them just the other side of the front door. Those
classed as sports may require a country club membership but even this
is on a more modest scale.

In fact, all potent are the economies made possible by leaving city or
closely built suburb. House and land, either bought or rented, comes
cheaper and is more ample. Along with this basic saving there are a
number of others that help to leave something from the family income
at the end of the year. Clothes last longer in the country and
wardrobe requirements are simpler. Similarly, there is a distinct
decrease in the money spent for amusements. When the nearest moving
picture house is five miles away it is easy to stay at home. Going to
the movies is not a matter of just running around the corner and so
done automatically once or twice a week. Then there are such things as
doctor's bills. While sickness, like taxes, visits every family no
matter where it lives, we have found that we actually have less need
of medical care living in the sticks than we did in town. Also the
charges for competent care by both doctors and dentists are lower.

For the family inclined to delve in the soil, a definite saving can be
accomplished by tending a vegetable garden, raising small fruits and
berries, and even maintaining a hen roost. Some people (I would I
could honestly include myself) have a gift for making things grow and
getting crops that are worth the work that has gone into them.
Likewise there is such a thing as possessing a knack with that
unresponsive and perverse creature, the hen. Possibly good gardening
and an egg-producing hen-yard are the result of willingness to take
infinite pains but, out of my disappointments and half successes, I am
more inclined to hold that it is luck and predestination. So, I have
reduced agricultural activities sharply, but I do know families where
each fall finds cellar shelves groaning under cans of fruits and
vegetables, products of the garden, and foretelling distinct economies
in purchases of canned goods or fresh vegetables.

One of the largest single savings that country life makes possible is
elimination of private school tuition. Theoretically city public
schools are good enough for anybody's children. Actually most good
neighborhoods have an undesirable slum just around the corner and the
public school is for the children of both. So, many city-dwelling
families, not from snobbishness but because they do not want their
young hopefuls to acquire slum manners and traits, dig deep into their
bank accounts and send their children to private schools.

Seldom is this necessary in the country, especially if the educational
system is investigated beforehand. Instead, the children start in a
good consolidated graded school, proceed through the local high
school, and are prepared for college with all the cost of tuition
included in the tax bill that must be paid anyway. The children are
none the worse for this less guarded education. They are, in fact,
benefited for they have a democratic background that makes later life
easier.

Besides these creature comforts and financial gains, there are the
intangibles. Chief of these is that indescribable something, country
peace. All the family responds to it. It is impossible to maintain the
highly-keyed, nervous tension that characterizes city life when the
domestic scene is surrounded by open fields or an occasional bit of
woodland. The placid calm soothes frayed nerves and works wonders in
restoring balance and perspective toward family and business problems.
The harassed come to realize the inner truth of "God's in his heaven,
all's right with the world."

Along with this, the family transplanted from the city gradually comes
to know the genuine joys of much simpler pleasures. Separated from
the professional recreations that beckon so engagingly in cities and
the larger towns, adults and children alike develop resources within
themselves. They learn that they can be just as contented with homely
enjoyments as they ever were when they sat passively and were amused
by some one who made it his profession. A tramp through the woods in
the fall when there is a tang of frost in the air; the satisfaction of
a long-planned flower bed in full bloom; a winter evening with a log
fire blazing on the living-room hearth; are simple but as genuine as
any of the pleasures known to city folk. Better yet, they are not
exhausting. "Few people are strong enough to enjoy their pleasures," a
friend once wisely observed. In the main, however, those of the
country are less taxing and leave one refreshed which, after all, is
the true purpose of recreation.

Against these gains of country living the costs must also be reckoned.
These, as stated earlier, will hardly be felt if the individual really
likes the country in its smiling moods as well as its frowning ones.
One which the family recently separated from city ways may find
hardest to accept is a demand for self-reliance. If the furnace will
not burn, a water pipe springs a leak, a mid-winter blizzard deposits
a snowdrift that all but blocks the front door, father or some one
else must rise to the situation.

The country home has no janitor. The nearest plumber is two or five
miles away. No gang of snow shovelers knocks at the door with offers
to attack the mislocated snow at a price, albeit the highest they
think the traffic will bear. Pioneer-like, some or all of the family
must turn to and cope with such situations. Doing so, whether
temporary like closing a pipe valve to stop the cascading water until
the plumber arrives, or permanent like mastering the idiosyncrasies of
the furnace, has its reward. From oldest to youngest, after a year or
so there comes a sense of ability to cope with the unforeseen rather
than to stand meekly by waiting for George to do it.

Again, it is not always smiling June with gentle breezes. There are
also January, February and March, the months winter really settles to
his task and delivers, as he will, snow storms, or spells of
abnormally cold weather that make the house hard to heat and may
freeze pipes. There are also rainy spells of two or three days'
duration that come any time, spring, summer or fall. It is fun to be
in the country when the sun shines. There are so many things to do and
see out-of-doors. It is totally different when it rains and rains and
still keeps on until everything outside is dripping and sodden. Then
comes the testing time. Child or grown-up must accept such bad weather
and make light of its restrictions, or country living is hard indeed.
But did you ever put on boots and oilskins and go for a long walk in
the rain just for the pure joy of it? Try it some time. You will see
fields and bushes with different eyes and hear that most musical of
all country sounds, the rush of tiny brooks in full flood. Even the
birds have their rainy day manners and ways.

[Illustration: THE OGDEN HOUSE, FAIRFIELD, CONN. BUILT BEFORE 1705, IT
HAS BEEN RESTORED TO PRESERVE THE ORIGINAL DETAILS

_Miss Mary Allis_]

The most ardent country advocate, however, cannot deny that in some
respects such a life has certain expenses not entered in the budget of
families living in town. First and foremost, if father has his city
job there is the monthly commutation book as well as the occasional
railroad fares when other members of the family go to the city. There
is no argument about it. These are added expenses but they are more
than offset by reductions in the fixed charges. Also by selecting
where you will live, transportation costs can be controlled.

Expenditures incident to entertaining are another matter. One of the
pleasantest things about living out-of-town is the week-end. From
Friday night or Saturday noon until Monday morning the city is
forgotten. Of course, part of the time, you will want to share these
days with friends still cooped in apartments. Week-end guests vary the
picture and are worth both the effort and money entertaining them
involves. But don't think that will be all. No country-living family
is safe from either friends or casual acquaintances in these days of
motor cars. They will appear most unexpectedly and assume that you are
as delighted to see them as they are to have you as an objective for a
Sunday afternoon motor trip.

At first it is flattering to have people come so far just to see you.
Then the novelty of it wears a little thin and you begin to realize
that frequently Monday morning finds the refrigerator swept bare. In
time it will dawn on you that part of the up-keep of a country home
revolves around feeding your self-invited guests. It would not be so
bad if they would telephone ahead so that you could be prepared, but
that is not one of the rules of the game. Instead, it is taken for
granted that living in the country, you have a never-failing pantry.
The solution lies in preparedness. From early spring until about
Thanksgiving time, have in reserve some simple supplies for an
acceptable afternoon tea or Sunday night supper.

One household of my acquaintance always has large pitchers of milk, a
supply of crackers, two or three kinds of cheese, a platter of
sandwiches, home-made cake and a hot drink. As many as wish are
welcome to come at the last moment for this standard Sunday night
supper. Its simplicity has earned this repast a wide reputation and it
is considered a great lark to go there. Incidentally, this truly rural
supper is so inexpensive that it matters little how many are on hand


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