Johnson Hobby Farm Photo Essay

Margie & Mike bought this 6-acre hobby farm in SW Minnesota on Halloween, 2011. It hadn't been lived in for a couple years. We spent the summer of 2012 rehabbing the house and grounds. Farming is hard! But we had the summer of our lives. We learned so much and completed so many projects. Mostly we learned a hobby farm is "an unending to-do list, surrounded by a fence." We have more to do but next year will be soooo much easier!

UPDATE: We finished the property rehab in the summer of 2013 and sold the farm for a nice profit. Owning two houses 800 miles apart was just too worrisome for us back then. It was a fantastic two-year adventure and we still miss the farm, even though Wyoming is spectacularly beautiful.

The day we became farmers

The farm property looking from our front open acre.
It takes a couple hours to mow but makes a great baseball, football or Frisbee field

Home Sweet Home

Nice front porch and a "grandma" side yard

Didn't get to do this as much as we liked

Front yard

The beautiful barn sold us on the property

Classic Minnesota barn

The Garden

New buddy (and son of prior owner) Lyman plowed under an acre of
weeds in the fall and again in the spring to help improve our base of soil

Before: We had to create the garden from scratch. But we had
that great Minnesota soil. After Lyman plowed twice for us,
we dug, rototilled and planted a 50 X 50 garden near the house.



Building the garden

Building the garden

Building the garden

Before the fence

Putting up the fence


After: Garden is fenced, planted and growing!

Building the tomato cages

Erecting the tomato cages

We built 15 tomato cages. They looked pretty over-built at first,
but the plants soon dwarfed Margie


Margie picks beans

Tomato plants filled their 6-foot cages

They filled our bowls too

The bounty kept coming

Mike looks for ripened corn

The sweet corn was so tasty...

We ate it raw right in the field

Margie's sunflowers got 12-feet high

Tearing down the garden in late September

The House Rehab

Creepy basement before

Bright, painted and cleaned basement after

Basement before

Basement during Margie's painting

Basement after Margie's painting. Mike installs grow lights
to get a 5-week jump on the garden plants

Basement junk after we were done

Step one on the main floor: get rid of the smelly carpets.
The original wood floors were still underneath the entire main floor
but required sanding and refinishing. The best floor guys in the area couldn't get
to us until September so we had to live in a re-hab zone the entire summer

This is what was underneath the carpets

We had the guys patch in new wood to hide the old square floor vent hole

The sanding begins

After sanding

During staining

Floors finished!

Steps two thru 100: get rid of the old wallpaper. Margie spent days
on that project. Then she had to cover the hundreds of little square tiles
on the ceiling with a sheetrock mixture that required filling hundreds of cracks
between the tiles. Then she had to fix the cracked walls using the same sheetrock mix
that turned hard as rock when dried. Then she plastered the walls and ceiling for texture
(great design feature) before applying the primer paint. The ceiling squares are now invisible

Sheetrocking away all the little ceiling squares

Margie starts applying primer. Finally!

The finished space with new built-in bookcases, crown molding,
baseboard molding, door and window trim and beautifully-restored wood floors

During rehab, ready for paint!

Dining & living room done

Dining & living rooms done

Dining Room Done

Dining room done

Kitchen prepped before rehab

The kitchen we started with. More peeling ceilings, old wallpaper,
cracked walls and glue-covered floors

Kitchen after rehab

Kitchen during rehab

Kitchen after rehab

Kitchen before

Kitchen after

Kitchen after

Kitchen before

Kitchen after rehab. Restored floors, crown molding, chair rails,
textured walls and ceiling, new paint, two new cabinets, new
countertops, under-cabinet lighting, new sink, and Mike's favorite
-- after a summer of washing dishes by hand -- we added a new dishwasher.
The contractor finished the last of the work two days before we had to leave

Margie helps the electricians install under cabinet lights

This is where Mike hid when the disorder got too crazy

Main floor bedroom as we inherited it. It is now our office

The office ceiling before

Office during rehab

Installing the wainscoting

Office after rehab. New wainscoting, new crown molding and door/window trim,
refurbished floors and Margie's magic textured wall and ceiling paint job.
Oh, and a bunch more electrical outlets added.

Margie was able to save and repaint the wall vents too

Gaining Control of the Grounds

Mike vs the weeds

Making progress with the rented brush cutter

This truck made so much work possible

One of dozens of loads taken to the community brush pile

Laddie helped

Most of the time

We caught up on decades of needed tree trimming

Wayyyyy up

More branches to haul away

The Barn

Mike shoveled years of pig manure from the barn.
Bonus! He found the floor and it's concrete throughout!

Margie & Laddie helped

Mike's morning ritual is to open the barn and admire it

Welcome to Minnesota: The Windstorm

A huge May 5th windstorm blew half the metal roof off the granary 30 feet high
into a tree, rammed a 2 X 4 through the wall of the house like a spear and ripped
the electrical service off the house. Even worse, (shudder) Mike's satellite dish was crunched.
The tree saved the house (and us) from much worse damage. This photo made the local newspaper

Storm damage

After the repairs

This tree saved us. We were in an upstairs bedroom behind
this tree when granary roof hit the tree 30 feet up and deflected
down and away just missing the side of house. The broken branch is
where the roof hit. We had to severely trim the tree but we saved it

In Between All That, Some Play

Laddie & Mike after mowing that front acre. We were told the farm has
been "green" (John Deere) for 85 years, so we had to keep it that way. Thanks
to our new John Deere mower, Mike still loves cutting grass.

The neighborhood groundhog (Minnesotans call them woodchucks)

Visitors to the granary

Laddie & Angel demand frequent breaks for Frisbee

Binx loves being a barn cat and Laddie takes her in stride

All done, time for Minnesota treats. Mike loves returning to
"his people" and his childhood favorite foods

Reliving childhood at the Sioux Falls zoo

Our new buddy Ron cut our first batch of alfalfa & clover for his cows

Baling the hay with big boy toys

We made many great new friends!

Of all ages!

Our drop-in buddies Braden & Joseph helped tape a room for painting

Margie hid all the kids' initials on the kitchen ceiling

Dawn on the farm. The dairy in the distance has been up and at it for hours already

Goodnight farmboys

Other Johnson Photo Essays

Mike's Website