The Farmhouse Files: Red Hot Summer


Life in a 100+ year old farmhouse has it’s perks.  It also has it’s downfalls.  I’ve started sharing real stories about what living in a century-old house means in my column ‘The Farmhouse Files‘ and it’s not all parties and pretty renovations.

The summer is one of the times that a big drawback of farmhouse life is extremely exaggerated.  While you all see a lot of my outdoor entertaining, have you ever noticed that I rarely (if ever) host a party INSIDE during the summer months?  Well, that’s because there is a very – shall we say – stifling reason not to. 

You see, we don’t have air conditioning. If you’re like me and didn’t grow up with a/c then you’re probably not fazed by this admission. Air conditioning is more of a modern convenience, and truth be told, I don’t really like it that much.  I get cold at the homes of people who have it and rarely use it in my car.  I can get past that… honestly!  Like I said, I didn’t grow up with air and my body is relatively adjusted to the warmth.  But here is the bad part… in a house this old, with giant windows that open to the shade of 60 year old trees, it is an absolute travesty that the windows don’t all open.  Actually, only half of our windows open. Some are giant, beautiful old windows, as big as four feet wide, but they’re too brittle to open. Others have such large gaps to the outdoors that they’ve been wood-filled and caulked so many times, they’re stuck shut.  So put together the sweltering heat plus the amazing Ohio humidity AND windows that don’t open and it gets downright swampy in here.

Usually we’re not too upset.  Over an eight year period, we’ve grown accustomed to it, installed lots of ceiling fans, and just one window unit in the bedroom (sleeping hot is the worst).  But even with these safeguards in place, there are always days each summer during which the heat gets so unbearable, we have to go to the movies or out to dinner because it’s too hot to be in the house.  Sometimes we just sit in the living room as still as possible wearing barely-there clothing while chain eating flav-o-ices. Hows that for a visual!!?  And forget entertaining…

This summer has been a little different.  It hasn’t been hot, but we’ve had endless rain which has forced us indoors. Even with lower temps, being in a closed up house without much air circulation has been…. wet, shall we say? Last week, it came to a bit of a head when I was getting ready to cook dinner.  I had started the oven earlier, which was heating up the entire kitchen quite nicely (seeing as how the window in the kitchen doesn’t open), then went back upstairs to do a little more work while the oven came to temperature. As soon as I went back downstairs to check on the oven, I realized a bit too late that the heat from the oven plus the humidity in the air had coated the staircase in condensation.  As soon as I hit the stairs, I BIT IT.

Although I wasn’t really hurt, I was overcome by the situation. I’m sitting on the wet stairs rubbing my elbow, cursing the weather, the lack of open windows, and laughing through tears about the terrible hilarity of it all.

It’s in moments like that I get overwhelmed with the entire house. Although a lack of a/c and some shoddy windows aren’t a huge deal in the grand scheme, it’s the little things that start to add up and get heavy.  If you own a home, you know exactly how that feels.  The seemingly innocuous tiny things can start piling onto each other and start making us feel like it’s the house – not us – that’s in charge.

It’s lucky for me that the summers in Ohio don’t last too long. By the time fall rolls around and the trees in the yard start to change and the smell of fall wafts into our partially opened windows, I forget about the few months of swampy air, stifling heat, and slippery steps. It’s funny how quickly we can forgive and forget when it comes to something we love – in my case, that thing just happens to be a house.


photo credit: DTTSP

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