February 15, 2009
The farm update
The Country Sampler feature interview...
Last summer after the photo shoot of our farm house by Country Sampler Photographers, I wrote the following interview to provide the interviewer with some background information of the farm and to describe in some detail what he was seeing in the pictures we both had that would be featured in the magazine.
Below is what I sent him. As much of this was not used in the interview, and many of you will be getting the magazine and do have our farmhouse CD that is now almost 300 photographs of the farm and grounds, I thought you might be interested in the interview. I have added some extra lines that begin with ~~ and end with ~~ here and there that describe something more fully than was previously written. Words in those were not in the original written interview to him.
I got my copies of the magazine this last Thursday and have sold many of them already. I am told they will be available on
newstand by 3/3.
in my fondest... Tilda

Here is some information about the farmhouse and our life here. I believe everything of the past has led us to where we are now, living in this old family farmhouse.
My heart definitely smiles.
August 29, 2008
Information about the house itself.
The year the house was built is unknown. Built for great uncle Henry Byers (a bachelor), born in 1852, the oldest of nine children born to Walburga and John Byers (Johann B. Bauer, whose name was changed from the German to "Americanize" it as was the custom in those days) who came to America in 1852 from Bavaria, Germany. Land Tax records show the property was in Byers family possession in 1883. Only 2~~the article lists this as 4 generations~~ generations of Byers' have lived in the house and we are the 3rd. Inez and Herman Byers owned it from 1937 to her death in 1993, after they lived here 56 years. The original house, was only 3 rooms. Added onto in the mid 1940's, 3 children were born to this house. Ron, the only son, was born in this house.
While not knowing the year the house was built, we speculated it from a period of the late 1880's to the turn of the century, after finding during the renovation of the house, old floor boards in the upstairs covered with newspaper as insulation, as was the custom of old houses during that period. One board in particular, was covered with newspaper with the date, Wed. March 31, 1886 clearly visible in many places. Still, the date of the house is unknown. We kept that old board, added non-matching old hooks to it and it hangs on the wall of the dining room, with the newspaper dates still evident. ~~ the old newspapers are stuck to the board.~~
The house retains the original windows and doors of the old structure, along with the original wood floors, and the original tongue and groove wainscot ceilings of the 3 rooms in their original paint~~ ( the 'white' bedroom has sage green ceiling, the dining room and kitchen has aged yellowed taupe color, which may have been a lighter color originally, but probably darkened due to wood smoke).~~ The new part added in the 1940's has the wood floors installed then, covered for years with carpet and linoleum, and in 1995 restored back to their old beauty of bare wood floors.
In 1995, we began undoing the renovations made to the house through the years by Ron's folks, taking off the upstairs, raising the ceilings back to 10' height, and uncovered the old ceilings that had been covered by drop ceilings and we didn't know were there. What an immense surprise to find old wood floors and then the original ceilings!  After painting walls, adding the shelves salvaged from the old floor boards upstairs to the 7-1/2" height, and other changes, we opened the old house into our shop HighButton Shoe which operated from 1995 to 2005. The old farmhouse rooms provided a magnificent backdrop for our primitive farm antiques and folk art.~~ The shop was a great primitive shop for many years until gradually my passion for primitives would not waver and I stayed true to that passion while others moved on to another look and imports flooded the market. I was not interested in being a part of that look. The decision was made for me, with the realization I could no longer support the shop I loved so much with slow sales and traffic.~~
While I am  not particularly easy with change, the transformation of the shop back into a house again was made beginning in fall 2006, when our kids moved back to the farm, our daughter Robin and her family moved into our old house in 2007, we moved into the old farmhouse, and our son Steve and Cheryl built a home west of the old hay barn. The farm has come full circle. It is once again lived on by Byers family. Our hearts rejoice, as does the farm itself. It feels right, and I truly believe this is where we are supposed to be.
Just things...
To live here, we mostly gutted the old bathroom and kitchen to modernize them. For the bathroom, an outside door from a hallway leading to the bathroom was removed, a bathroom wall removed to make the room bigger and a huge shower unit was brought in the opening of that outside wall as it was removed. As walls came down or were exposed for the first time in many decades, we discovered an old auction sale bill dated September 29, 1941 for a farm sale just north of Tustin. Well preserved, I framed it and it hangs on the wall in the bathroom where it was taken from after being hidden there for over 60 years.~~ (This framed sale bill is shown in the farmhouse CD.)~~ I painted new oak unfinished cupboards to look old, and it is furnished as is the entire house with antique primitives  cupboards. The door to the bathroom is an original wood door in old sage green paint, and has a large window in it as it was an outside door in its former life of the house. I have kept that door on the bathroom, as I love it, and we have a 'curtain' made from an old patched muslin pillowcase I had saved for something special, I took apart, nailed to the inside of the door window for privacy.~~The door, the old pillow case curtain, and the very primitive cupboards all show in the CD~~ The door has no lock, as it never did. A trio of skeleton keys hang from the old glass doorknob, but if needed we use a hook and eye 2 piece door lock Ron put on.~~ (The bathroom cupboards are painted a pumpkin base color and sage green overtop that and then peeled to make the pumpkin color show thru as in old age would have been. In reality my
pumpkin color looked more Pepto-Bismal color and I covered it with several coats of stain and black wash, to finally achieve the look I wanted. This bathroom in the magazine feature does not show any of this. It is shown in the farmhouse CD.)~~
One wall displays part of my collections of old dresses, and original prairie bonnets. ~~ (Shown in the magazine) The dress is very old and one of my favorites. The prairie bonnets are all old. The white dress on the right is a child's Christening dress, with a small bonnet. The tiny square patchwork hand stitched quilt top matches those colors of the dress and bonnets perfectly.~~
We use old farm hooks in many rooms of the house for hanging things, as old farmhouses used these often, in place of closets. This house has and always did have only ONE closet. It makes storage a challenge to say the least, for me!
The kitchen:
Leaving the top cupboards of the kitchen from Montgomery Wards of the 1940's in the kitchen, the original floor and old painted wainscot ceiling we uncovered, the rest of the kitchen is new made to look old, and be more in tune with the rest of the house. New unfinished cupboards were painted and peeled to look years old. A seemingly out of control fetish for old tins, butter bowls, colanders, dough boards and pantry jars finds home in this room. Handwritten recipes on old paper from Mom Byers, and my Grandma Compton are framed and hang on the walls. Aside from the bathroom door, the house has no curtains and the afternoon sun lights the room and casts wonderful shadows on its contents.~~ (The windows shown in the magazine are old and are the only painted windows I have not redone. All original to the house windows have been left with the old painted colors they always had, new trim Mom and Dad had done through the years was painted a deep hunter green for the shop, leaving the old trim as it was. That hunter green trim is now all painted white and aged. Except for these two kitchen windows! I must do something with them!~~
The house is filled with memories of those who once lived here. Black and white photographs of ancestors, who once walked on these floors and watched the fields out the windows, look back at us, from the walls. We have interchanged my family history with the Byers history, so they all are shown here. This is a small rural town and they would have known each other anyway even back in the late 1880's or early 1900s. Looking into their images in black and white reflection, reminds us of the history of this farm and who we came from. The bakers cupboard in the dining room (not shown) belonged to great aunt Della Byers Skaglin, daughter of John and Walburga. Her photograph is on a wall in the bedroom.~~  (The bakers cupboard does show in the farmhouse CD. Above
the flour cupboard, with remnants of its old sage milk paint color still visible, is a large grey/blue striped crock with lid and drinking spout in copper. It belonged to my beloved Esther Gaffney, one of the things I got from her about a month before her death. I love it!)  Oh, yes, the bakers cupboard does show in the magazine. You see it in one very busy shot in a back wall with a 'pumpkins' sign hanging on the wall above it.~~
I believe old furniture, especially farm furniture keeps its past and speaks to us of their previous owners. Our farmhouse is filled with our family history thru furniture pieces, the old portraits, quilts, and handed down pieces. We have blended our family pieces with the treasured pieces of strangers belongings, that they probably once cherished, but for unknown reasons were given for sale. I keep their pieces and love them as my own, and often wonder who they belonged to. Quilts, especially, make my mind wander to who made them and why. Old quilts, like many old pieces, have a story to tell.
Owners.  Owner Pat Byers and son Steve. (Lives on the farm now in a newly built house) Steve, dressed in 1820 handmade reenactment buckskins, a reproduction handmade 19th century trade shirt of muslin, carrying an Ohio Poor-boy Flintlock rifle. Steve belongs to reenactment groups and does 'shoot's' around Michigan and Ohio.  ~~ Ron was not home that day until later and Steve was here. The photographers were interested in his re-enactment hobby and asked him to come back dressed in full garb with his gun. I did not KNOW they would be taking a picture of me, and was not particularly pleased as I surely was NOT dressed to be photographed...~~
The living room:
Plate rack on wall belonged to Ron's great uncle, Jasper Rainey, recovered from the farm chicken coop, about 30 years ago. Jasper was the nephew of the first house owner. So the plate rack is back where it should be. ~~The 'coffee' sign hand stenciled on a very old peely paint door piece is by my friend Holly Schmidt.~~
Treenware, a passion of mine in either early paint or attic finish, sits on the old white over blue paint grain bin we bought in Alabama on a buying trip. I love old woods, and have many benches, stools, carriers, wood boxes and baskets collected over the years.
 Old framed etching of Abraham Lincoln in left profile~~I believe a left profile is more rare to find~~ hangs on large old white wainscot cupboard. Framed 1891 tax record for the farm property hangs above it. We have years of the tax records (found here in the farmhouse) with their distinct handwriting of that time to be put in a long frame, to validate the long ownership of this land.~~I have an old window pane that is long and narrow with old glass and plan to put many of these early 1880 and 1890 tax records in that frame to hang on the wall.~~
The French doors put in the East wall of the living room dramatically changed the house, allowing for more air flow and another exit door, but what I love the most is the sunshine of morning that floods the room, changing shadows, dancing and creeping sometimes only for an instant, into collections of old woods. I sit, too often, with steaming coffee, and simply watch the sunshine move across the room. It calms my soul.
Quilts.  After realizing I simply had too many quilts, I began collecting only red and white ones, old ones not newly made. Condition is unimportant. If it speaks to me, I buy it! But my real passion remains for the old black, browns, and old navy wool utility quilts, made from cast off fabrics, often in sign of wear as the wools did, but the maker embroidered beautiful hand stitching along the seams, and their skills remain as a testimony of their desire to have something beautiful in their life.
Dining room:
 Harvest table. 3 boards wide, with wood chairs none of which match. 2 in my favorite color of old sage green.~~One was in the shop for sale and never sold, the other, the captains chair was bought in Traverse City Michigan from my friend Ruth Hill from her antique shop which I can't remember the name of at the moment. They now live in Ohio.~~ Green arched door in background, original to the house in a different doorway. It is not functional in this doorway, as it is too large for the frame. But I wanted it kept where I could see it, so that door frame has 2 doors on it. The green opens one way, the other old door opens the other way. I saw this in a house in Kentucky a couple years ago and was so impressed with that house trait. All doors not original to the house have been replaced by Ron, with old original paint wood doors, handles and hardware. ( A tribute to Ron's skills as a finish carpenter by trade). Old doors are notorious to hang in houses
and most carpenters won't even attempt the effort.
 A collection of old painted  metal dust pans take up wall space in the dining room, some of them original to the house.~~ I think there are 16 dust pans in this room.~~
Several painted wood boxes are used for storage.
The table often has place settings of antique enamelware plates, with the preferred signs of age and wear, along with aged muslin linens and fork and spoons long past their prime. ~~ I love that look and the table is most often set that way..~~
A collection of silver salt and peppers are housed in a wood medicine cabinet. ~~ The medicine cabinet was in the shop for sale and never sold, so it now is nailed to my wall and is perfect for the salt and peppers. Two itty-bitty black makedo's from friend
Miss Elspeth (Wendy) of www.pineberrylane.com are in there too.~~
Large cheesecloth pie keep sits atop a round barrel top. The Sellers Hoosier bakers cupboard in the background shows small traces of old green milk paint of its original paint. When I bought it years ago, it had 6 coats of paint on it, the top coat- robin egg blue, while the porcelain granite ware pull out was painted fire engine red! A real mess, it took me all one summer to strip it, a chore I rarely do to furniture, preferring the original paint no matter how worn.
 Most of the furniture in the house is old paint, but a few pieces are not. The ice box and the tall Mission chair have never been painted. Sheep on cart folk art piece is one of my folk art pieces I made, using the wool inside batting of an old quilt long beyond usefulness, hand sewing each piece to the muslin base I made. The sign To Thine Own Self Be, is an example of signs we make from repurposing old painted wood door panels. I hand stencil each letter to make the phrase. We have several of these signs around the rooms.
  Ron made the butter bowl hanger on the wall behind the table. I have whittled down my collection to more manage-able, and collect out of round bowls with character. Many of mine have mends, which to me is the character of the bowl, showing it was used many years. Very old worn gingham farm aprons, hang on the wall with prairie bonnets~~These are all very old, right and true~~. Obvious love of dough boards are stacked against the cupboard.~~ The best and largest one, with sides and an old metal handle stands against a cupboard on the floor and is not shown.~~
Handwritten recipes, I cherish not only for the recipe itself, but for the old handwriting of the writer long dead, are framed and hang on the wall above pantry jars~~ I collect pantry jars and have an out of control collection!~~, and the attic finish wood spice box, handmade and none of the 8 drawer knobs are the same.
Kitchen tinware, noodle cutter and board, metal salt box, source. Shelly Gregory of Primitives in Thyme,  Cadillac Michigan.
~~The picture in the magazine of my OLD expensive orginal white paint over blue paint wood grain bin we bought in Alabama many years ago.~~ Hate that picture. Hope they don't use it!!  The old grain bin I so love basked in sunlight, never looks like that... ~~ well, they did use it. I still hate it AND it was pushed over to a place and angle it never would have been, wedged between the dining and living room so you could not enter the living room. AND I never would have had THREE flower arrangments on it. Never! The article refers to it in one place as an ordinary trunk!!  I shutter~~~
 4 Poster bed dominates the room, the only room with a closet.
Quilt on the 10' high wall is wool in dark browns, with the colorful, skilled embroidery work of its maker long ago.
Wood rakes in the corner, 2 of many in the house, both from the farm itself and collected. Used in farm life for moving hay and straw. ~~Four rakes in different styles are in the other bedroom and some show in the farmhouse CD.~~
Quilt throw on the bed, designed, pieced and sewn by niece, Pam Keller Hall, as a gift to Ron.
Rooster and Cat rug hookings were worked by Ron's Dad Herman, In his 70's, with crippling arthritis of his hands, he took up rug hooking to pass the time. Primitive and naive in style, the rooster was his first work, the cat in the quilter frame, his last before he died. I cherish them. ~~ I really would have liked that mentioned in the article. It was important to me, but it wasn't said.~~
Pumpkin sign, one of 2 in the house, a reminder of my fondness for pumpkins, I suppose, is hand stenciled on old wood door panels. ~~ We make these signs from old door panels and hand stencil each letter.~~
Small houses on the high boy dresser were hand made and painted by Ron's dad Herman. 2 very old wood fish decoys (perhaps the work of a local renowned carver Oscar Peterson, whose decoys are sought after by American collectors, purchased from a neighbor at a garage sale, telling me they belonged to his grandfather) and old tin lighting sit atop the tall boy dresser.
Entire house is filled with old lighting pieces, in lamps, lanterns, and candlesticks.
From my friend Wendy Stys-VanEmerin, I found this saying  which fits our life in this house perfectly.
I am bound to them, though I cannot look into their eyes,
or hear their voices.
I honor their history, I cherish their lives, I will tell their story,
I will remember them. ( Author Unknown.)
Ron was born here. Dad and Mom lived here 56 years and both died in these rooms, but they remain still, in a house rich with their memories, their lives and laughter. Farm people, they lived a simple life, one we are striving to return to.
This is their house, their story, our story. We will remember them.  ~~this entire last piece I would have liked to seen in the article. I thought it was important. It is not there..~~
 Summer porch.
Not heated in winter, this is the first room you enter into and the overflow of my collections often comes here. Ripping out green grass carpet that was on the floor, we opted to leave the cement floor bare, as we found them with cracks and all.
The wood taupe and black splotched paint table was found in Alabama. A chicken feeder wire rack holds 40 or so of  the probable 150 enamelware plates of my seemingly out of control collection. Apparently I could never pass up enamelware plates at auctions, flea markets or garage sales!
A large hand carved treenware trencher from one piece with handle included was a gift to me from Ron, stopping into an antique shop in Colorado on his return from a hunting trip. ~~ Ronnie took some gentle ribbing from the rest of the hunters when he made his way back 35 miles one way to town to get this trencher for me, and yet he still did it. I love the piece~~~
The vintage wood mortar and pestle was a gift from Irene Raab.
The red paint crock cupboard~~referred to in the article as a book case~~ often holds more than just crocks. One crock is filled with turkey feathers cast off from the wild turkey flocks that roam our yards and fields of the farm. A collection of old pocket watches fill a yellowware bowl.
Childrens vintage shoes turn up in unlikely places filling available spaces for such things.
Wood shoe forms on the table were found in an ancestors attic before the house was taken down, and I treasure them as part of our families heritage to pass down.
Pottery bust is handmade and resembles a Native American Indian, purchased long ago from a local antique shop.
.Spring often comes slowly, trying ones patience in northern Michigan, but I get out flower pots and early plants as soon as possible. The outside porch is used in all seasons, with 2 old weathered church pews void of paint for seating, and Grandpa's porch swing to enjoy the seasons with. Collections of terracotta flower pots and old garden tools fill the antique wood box probably used in a barn. ~~ The picture is not shown in the article.~~
Pictured as a medicine cabinet.
 The once painted and stripped oak medicine cabinet with beveled mirror has hung in the house since we got it. I made the gourd garlands from dried gourds raised one year here on the farm. We have dried gourds all over my house in baskets, crocks and large butterbowls.
I have collected rolling pins for years, in direct contrast to the fact that I cannot make a decent pie crust! Finally restricting myself mostly to green handled ones, as the collections became too large unfortunately. I imagine it really only takes ONE rolling pin to make a good pie crust!  ~~ I REALLY had to smile when I saw the words about this picture!  Told I could not have all the probably 200 drieds gourds in the house, for the feature and taking them all out the day before, I forgot the gourd garlands on the door. Thinking the photograph would probably be about the medicine cabinet or the rolling pins, and specifically asked about those, I was mildly amused to see that the entire article of that picture is about HOW to dry gourds!! ~~
Oddly, as my former house was filled with both primitive antiques and folk art, and as a shop this house was the same, I find that as a farmhouse once again, it dictates to me what it wants for decor, not the other way around. Trying to add my own folk art and that of my favorite artists I have collected, I am met with disapproval by the house itself. It prefers attic finish primitive antiques, painted pieces, old lighting, probably the same type of pieces a house of this era knew in its early beginnings. So I abide by its wishes and strive to fill it with the old things it would have known, and ones I love. We have truly come full circle.
Often collectors want pristine antique pieces. I am the opposite. I prefer and seek out and embrace pieces showing wear, mends, fixes, and ponder over who owned those mended wares and treasure their belongings as much as they once did, so many years ago, evident enough to mend and keep them.
We, in our business of selling primitive antiques and folk art, often used old cast off farm items to repurpose into something else. The farmhouse has many of these repurposed items. The bathroom has one single old wood ski in attic finish, with its original leather bindings, to which Ron welded a metal door knob on a piece of steel as a holder. From our old outhouse, I took its great old rusted wire paper towel holder and hung our toilet paper from it.~~Shown in the farmhouse CD~~ I love having unusual things around the house. I was asked just the other day "how do you come up with your ideas"? To which I would reply, from the homes of other people, magazines, and perhaps just a natural attempt to use the things I love so much. We 'salvage' many things.
If I had to describe the farmhouse in one phrase, I might use 'detailed clutter'. I love imperfections, found objects, old wares, muted colors of soft milk paint sage green and off whites.
I once heard the term 'hands on style', and while I am not certain exactly what that suggests, I have come to believe perhaps it hints at our satisfaction of our surroundings, when we have placed ourselves in the midst of things we love. That we had a hand in what we were creating, rather than merely following the trend. We should always find our own trend. If others love it, so be it. If they don't, but you still do, that is what your home should reflect. It should always reflect you.
sources:  Furniture/antique and smalls   High Button Shoe & Byers Collections   www.highbuttonshoe.net
              Folk art:  HighButtonShoe/Patricia Byers artist; Wendy Stys-Van Eimeren www.pineberrylane.com ; Holly Schmidt
Tinware in kitchen:  Shelly Gregory of  Primitives in Thyme   Cadillac Michigan  (231) 392-2713
Outside porch: Old Paint Farm Divided Box: Primitives in Thyme  Shelly Gregory
~~In the farmhouse CD, many of the antique pieces of the house, the smalls, are from Shelly's shop. She has wonderful
boxes, apothecaries, firkins, LOTS of tinware and great folk art pieces. The CD shows not only rooms but closer vignettes that often change with season or my whim of that week. It has the Christmas season documented and shows my absolute passion in trying to capture the sunshine on old woods of the house.
We are offering the farmhouse CD for $8.00 post paid for February and March 09. I have a limited number of the Country Sampler Tour of Homes to sell. Check with shops that sell the magazine, or big box stores that also sell Country Sampler. Remember it is a special issue. Not part of your subscription and is NOT the regular CS issue that features folk art for sale as well.~~
~~I hope you will purchase the magazine of homes and let me know what you think of the features! And our farmhouse CD as well.~~
Thank you for asking to be a part of our farm.
in my fondest of thoughts and regard,
of the farmhouse
http://www.theprimitivegathering.com/highbuttonshoe.htm    Newly released 2/15/09