Fired up with enthusiasm after writing my first blog post in ages, I remembered why I started blogging in the first place, more than ten years ago.
My very first post, “In Search of the Perfect Beach House,” in December 2008, was the beginning of a quest to find just that, documented here in words and pictures. But my search only lasted three months. I found, purchased and renovated a 1930s cottage on the South Fork of Long Island, N.Y., and continued blogging as I discovered this new world of country living.
I still enjoyed trawling the real estate listings, even after I’d bought a house, turning up properties I’d theoretically buy if I had unlimited energy and borrowing power.
Turns out the house wasn’t perfect. Five years later, I sold it and bought a different one nearby, whose renovation I also painstakingly recorded. Along the way, there were other renovations, apartment searches and decorating juggernauts, but the original intent of casaCARA was as an inspirational nudge to readers toward the affordable real estate that actually still abounds within two or three hours of NYC.
Last night, for the first time in quite a few years, I went back to my favorite multiple listing site: the Columbia Northern Dutchess Multiple Listing Service, which, despite its name, lists properties in many Upstate New York counties. The site was just as I remembered, with the same Y2K-era user-unfriendly interface.
Nevertheless, it works, and by searching on properties in Dutchess County, older than 1900 and cheaper than $200,000, I came upon a listing worth sharing. (I’ve owned a cottage on 20 acres in the town of Milan since 2002, though I don’t live there.)
I saw its wide open fields and sunny aspect and immediately thought “flower farm.” For two reasons: one, I’ve been following Lisa Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop, a professional flower grower in Newport News, Virginia, who teaches seminars and publishes books on her joyful trade. I would gladly pursue flower farming myself, at least as a hobby, if I was at my Long Island property all through the growing season (I’m not; I usually rent it out in summer) and if I had enough sun (I don’t, though I daresay Lisa Z. would find a way to make it work).
The other reason I thought this property would be ideal for flower farming is that it’s located on Battenfeld Road in northern Dutchess, a few miles east of Red Hook and Rhinebeck, near the sole remaining anemone farm in the area. Called Battenfeld’s, they grow anemones in greenhouses and have a Christmas tree business in the off-season.
Did you know….? More than a hundred years ago, anemones, which one rarely sees at all anymore, were a craze among Victorian women who wore them on their clothing and pinned them to their hats. There were numerous anemone farms in the area, and their flowers were shipped daily down the Hudson River by boat to New York City.
Nothing as charming as that happens any more, but I’ll bet the land is still plenty fertile. Grazing sheep is another option, if you have any sheep to graze — there’s a Merino sheep farm nearby called Morehouse Farm.
About the buildings on this lot: there are many and they look dire, possibly unsalvageable. Given untold amounts of work and money, though, wouldn’t it make a great compound, centered on the tree-shaded vintage house, with a separate studio and two barns, one falling down worse than the other, and of course, the flowers and sheep?
The listing agent is Paul Hallenbeck of Rhinebeck and there is more info and photos on his site. Won’t somebody please buy it and fulfill my fantasy?