The problems at Apple Hill were mostly rooted in age of the place and poor construction. Everything was old. When the roofs weren’t leaking, the bunks had plumbing problems, which enabled me (with a little help from my friends at Popular Mechanics) to become a quite competent plumber. The wildlife was also a problem, as the porcupines ate the sides of the stable, particularly where the salt-licks had hung. Of course, they had also eaten the handles of all the tools in the place, and so the fate of the beaver at Higley Hill awaited several of them. The pool was a major problem. Guy Murchie had hired six men he had found on the road at a dollar a day each, and set them to work with picks and shovels to dig the hole that was to become the pool. With their help, he also poured the cement manually, and created a sort of kidney shaped pool with a rounded top, which (because he knew relatively little about cement) began leaking almost right away. It also required the installation of a pump for a filtering and recirculation system. The pump never worked quite the way it was supposed to, and each time a part was replaced or an outside “expert” was brought in, it was quite pricey.
Each spring our problems began with the house plumbing. Although water had been turned off and all the pipes had been properly pitched and bled the previous autumn, just the same, each winter they froze and burst, and every spring the water just poured through the ceiling and out of those breaks in the pipes after I turned the water on. So, each spring, I had to remove the ceiling, repair the leaks, and then replace the ceiling, making all the cracks and joints disappear beneath a smooth coating of compound. This happened every spring. The people who eventually bought the camp from us and are still running it as Apple Hill Music Camp, solved the problem by not replacing the kitchen ceiling at all and just waxing and exposing the gorgeous, 200-year-old beams. I didn’t think of that.
There were also the “small” unexpected problems, such as when the repair of a broken picture window in the living room led to the removal of two sides of the house. The window had been broken by an over-eager grouse, that had flown right through it, and had wound up quite dead on the living room rug, where we found it upon returning from a trip. A previous owner had tried to insulate the house by blowing in some sort of early insulating material between the external and internal walls. Over the years, the material had gotten wet, heavy, and fallen, and now as it expanded with each winter frost, it was rotting and pushing the walls apart. Naturally, we replaced the walls.
Also unexpected upon our return one spring, was the semi-decayed carcass of a raccoon in a closed refrigerator. I have no idea how he got there, the house having been locked when we left in the fall. The refrigerator door had been left open to air out. Mr. Raccoon must have entered somehow, possibly through a chimney (they are clever creatures!), checked out the refrigerator for some goodies and accidentally closed the door on himself. End of raccoon, and surprise for Linda when she opened the refrigerator door the following spring.