Everything was nearly ready, the barn was full of stuff that people might need, like forks and washing up liquid. Backstage we made a store room for tea towels, pillows and other things that are hard to sort into tidy piles, and attractive to sleepy cats. Time now for more hurdles and hard lessons.
The chickens watch from the gate. They like the busyness as we rush in an out of that barn to polish taps, angle lights, and wrestle with curtains. It is fun, except when you get tripped up by a chicken, or until you go to IKEA to seek out fine, soft, crisp, bedding with tasteful cushions. IKEA is just a place for getting lost, feeling inadequate and making argumentative decisions about cheese graters.
If you have friends who buy lottery tickets, you can suggest that they share any big win with you. I have and they seemed to agree, and even smiled when I told them what I will do with my half. Until that happens, the barn has a mortgage, so we are entering the murky waters of Airbnb. There is a lot to do.
We got to the best part. Sunshine pouring in through new windows, flooring going down, shelves going up, fresh paint licking corners and the excitement of ‘carpet day’ on the horizon. Even the sliding door, that kept getting stuck, started working. I was gloating over that door, thinking how silly I was to worry about it, all winter, when Building Control turned up. Then things went wrong.
The stairs arrived, and triggered a heated debate about colour.
When a list of things to do gets complicated, brains come up with startling thoughts. Especially in the middle of the night when you are not looking. ‘Who is going to do all this stuff? Forget character and history, we should have knocked it down, put up a kit house instead. What is a kit house?’
The barn was empty. All we had to do was pop in a few facilities and add a lick of paint. The advisor said, ‘you can turn this around in three months.’ It took three months to knock down 2 walls, dig 6 holes, and learn 9 lessons.
The golden rule of converting a barn is ‘Start with an empty space,’ and the rule of shared living is ‘Anybody can leave stuff anywhere, and nobody knows who did it.’ For decades people squirreled things in there, before going off to new homes and travels, or back to their room to enjoy the extra space they made. It was like a department store, full of things that nobody wants.
So there was the barn, new roof, dry walls, and occasional people living in the temporary camp/flat upstairs. This was so illegal you could either stay awake worrying about insurance, and planning regulations, or do mindfulness.
Autumn beauty here, but winter is coming and the house is full. Seven people, cats, chickens, visitors, the occasional rat, and a roof full of birds. Crows guard chimneys, swallows nest under gutters, and starlings sneak around inside the roof. Everybody needs a space to live, the humans and chickens pay to keep it all going. It was kind of working, until last winter, when we got a leak.