This I Believe

Robin - Lockport, New York
Entered on October 17, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that the best things in life are the things you build for yourself. I grew up on a farm that my family built. When I was 12 years old, my parents sold our home and purchased 100 acres. There was a blue steel barn on the land, a few rows of overgrown grapes and 25 acres of woods.

My parents had a log home erected on the site. They moved into it before it had walls or much in the way of plumbing. My two sisters and I were split up to live with our two sets of grandparents while my parents worked feverishly to make the house habitable. My mom was a school teacher and my dad was a machine repairman at a local plant, but they were more than that. They were two determined people who weren’t afraid to try anything.

Every night after work they went to the house to finish the interior. After my dad got one toilet and shower installed, and some walls up for a bedroom, my sisters and I moved into our new home. Over the years more things were made. Mom and dad built cupboards and book shelves, vanities and porches. Mom made quilts and my older sister crocheted afghans. We planted 100s of trees and flowers.

In the spring my father would have us mark trees in the woods that were dead so we could cut them up in the fall to burn in the woodstove that we used for heat, and for cooking when the power went out. He built a small barn and bought some beef cattle. When I asked for a horse, he fenced in a pasture. I earned the money and two horses joined us the following year. My parents added three dogs, cats, pigs, geese and turkeys to our menagerie and an enormous garden. We ate what we grew and my mom taught us to can vegetables and fruit, make jam, render lard and freeze our garden’s surplus. We had bees for honey and dad tapped trees for maple syrup.

I left the farm when I was 20, and nearly 20 years after that moved with my husband and 3 children onto 25 empty acres, that now, after 3 years has a barn, house and a vineyard. My husband and our children and I have tiled and grouted, built walls and bookshelves. Our house isn’t finished yet but we live in it and when it is done it will be wonderful, something that we built for ourselves.