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Willowview Hill Farm


All Types of Horsepower Need a Stable
By Nikki Alvin-Smith

All Types of Horsepower Need a Stable
 By Nikki Alvin-Smith

I confess to being slightly obsessed with both varieties of horsepower, equine and machine. My passion for both was heavily influenced by my late grandfather ‘Pop’. He grew up on a farm where horses worked the fields and pulled the carriage to church on a Sunday, and then became an engineer and eagerly saved his pennies to purchase his first car as soon as he was able to afford one. It was his pride and joy. At the time back in Britain the only option in paint color was black. I remember excitedly piling in the back of the car with my parents and two brothers to take trips in the country, where I sat on Mom’s lap tucked under a red and black tartan wool blanket to keep off the cold damp chill of rainy England. There was no heater. My passion for the car was ignited.

All Types of Horsepower Need a Stable By Nikki Alvin-Smith

As a child he would watch me ride our donkeys, then ponies and then in my teens it was horses. He would stand at the fence, resting his arms on the black metal rail as I rode warmblood and thoroughbred horses that had serious horsepower over the fences. Pop took me for my first pony ride when I was 10. He also took me for my first driving lesson when I was 17. His car then was a Ford Anglia, circa sometime 1960’s. When I grated my way through the crash gearbox he would visibly shudder. I passed my driving test first time despite annoying the examiner by going off in the wrong direction at a roundabout due to my nervousness, so Pop’s patience paid off.

Pop also taught me about caring for equipment. When I’d return to the garage with my trusty Hayward lawn mower and cut off the engine, having burned many calories as I walked behind it mowing fields, orchards and lawns with its tiny 30 inch cut, he’d check the blades for sharpness and show me how to clean them each time it was used before I put it away safe from the elements in the garage. The mower was squeezed into a spot by the wall on the inside of the brick building, and I was always very diligent not to ding the doors of my father’s car that sometimes sat in repose in the center. I manouevred the mower into its designated slot just shy of the line of gardening implements that rested against the wall, being careful not to knock any of them over. I was also taught to remove keys from all equipment for safety, (mainly to keep my inquiring younger brother from taking things out for a trial or taking them apart and leaving them in pieces somewhere in the garden), and security. 

I learned the importance of checking the oil for color and level, adding water (distilled of course) to the battery. Pop also shared his secrets to keeping horsepower of both the machine and animal type in good condition. For the former he said:
“If you do nothing else always change the oil in a machine. The engine will manage much longer if you just do that.”

Remarkably every summer he’d spend a month shut up in his tiny garage taking apart the entire workings of the car that lived under the bonnet. He cleaned and tended to parts and then he’d re-assemble everything. My grandmother issued us kids strict instructions to stay out of the garage and not to touch anything there ever, for fear Pop wouldn’t know where it went back together. Personally I think he’d know just fine. But naturally we visited with him anyway, just to kiss his cheek and say hello and deliver a cup of tea to his oil covered hands.

The garage was his sanctuary and keeping his car out of the rain, carefully polished to perfection and waxed and hand-washed every Sunday was his routine.  

All Types of Horsepower Need a Stable By Nikki Alvin-Smith

I have heard from realtors that a house without a garage is far less likely to sell than a house next door with a garage. So if you don’t currently own a garage then the idea of investing in one is a good one, especially down the road when you decide to downsize and move. You reap the additional bonus meantime of keeping your car protected from the elements, falling tree boughs, tree seeds and pollen in Spring and falling leaves in Fall, rain and snow in winter. Picture the extra lay-in time you’ll enjoy on a cold winter morning when you don’t have to brush snow off the car and scrape ice off the windshield before hitting the road for your commute to work.

All Types of Horsepower Need a Stable By Nikki Alvin-Smith

Of course lots of folks view the garage as a huge storage opportunity and dump all their ‘stuff’ into the space making it a clutter and chaotic mess. This hallowed space that should house their car and protect one of their most significant financial investments after their home, is only cleaned out one time. Either when they move or when their teenage child requires a space to entertain friends with attempts to form the garage band.

So when you contemplate buying a garage, it is smart to think about adding some extra room for storing all the ‘stuff ‘ that you are holding onto just in case your kids grow up and want it later. I confess that even now that our three kids are grown and our twins just celebrated their 30th birthday, our basement and our horse barn still house their stuff despite our best efforts to send it out the door to their first apartments. My barn office is stuffed with our daughter’s furniture that won’t fit up the staircase to her 3rd floor apartment in Rhode Island, and the basement is full of our son’s ski gear and boxes of paraphernalia including a stash of Dupont Registery magazines still in their original wrappers. It appears the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

All Types of Horsepower Need a Stable By Nikki Alvin-Smith

Oh for a garage to house all this clutter and a place to park my car and prevent the mice from the woodpile taking up residence on top of the engine. A place where my car would be safe from our UPS delivery driver’s inches away swerve and deliver tactics. It would be nice not to need to constantly check the car before every outing for the presence of our neighborhood carjacker, the neighbor’s cat, who likes to hide up under the cowling in cold weather. Remarkably that cat made a successful trip from Upstate New York to Newark, New Jersey with another neighbor, requiring them to make a round trip journey of 8 hours to return the cat safely to the owner. The return trip with the cat yowling in a rush purchased carrier on the back seat, all the way home. The poor driver was also allergic to cats!

If only I knew someone that could build me a garage that would complement the gray siding and white trim of my house, that could deliver it and set it up without mess or fuss, someone who would customize the garage design with windows to match the Georgian muntin design of my home. And now I think about it I think I’d like to add a neat loft where I could dabble with paint and canvas to my heart’s content without being admonished for the smell of turpentine in the house. Ah wait. I do!

All Types of Horsepower Need a Stable By Nikki Alvin-Smith

At Stoltfuz Structures they’ve been building beautiful sheds and garages, outdoor structures for over 43 years. That’s impressive. When you walk through one of their buildings you will immediately recognize top quality Amish workmanship in their huge variety of structure styles and designs. With their warranties, financing options and fast delivery you can have your garage right in your backyard super quick and in time for the coming winter weather.

All Types of Horsepower Need a Stable By Nikki Alvin-Smith

For the antique car aficionado, a place where your car has its own space is paramount. A garage offers peace and quiet where you can tinker, tool and fix your vehicle, safely store your tools and keep busy all year long making improvements to your car between car show seasons.

All Types of Horsepower Need a Stable By Nikki Alvin-Smith

For any homeowner, the addition of a garage can bring piece of mind that their car is safely tucked away from thieves and joyriders, dings and dents from kids toys and errant delivery drivers, and will almost certainly lengthen the lifetime of the car protecting it from early rust and paint fade, snapped engine belts in cold weather and cracked dashboards in hot summers.

So give the friendly team at Stoltfuz Structures a call at 610 595 4724 or visit their website. There are lots of choices from carriage style to mega garages, to single and double garage designs and I know that my Pop would be super impressed if he saw them. Take a look. You won’t be disappointed.

All Types of Horsepower Need a Stable By Nikki Alvin-Smith