Naomi and Robert Fulgham at 2994 Barney Road, Touchet, appreciate settling in and staying awhile.
“We are the fourth generation here. Bob’s great grandfather homesteaded here in 1886. It’s a centennial farm,” Naomi says. “We came back in 1959 and started farming. We’ve been married 64 years in July, married in 1955. My mother used to say, ‘If it looks greener on the other side of the fence, it’s probably astro turf.’”
They now have a large family with three grown children, nine grandchildren and she says “about eight great-grandkids.”
“At one time, Bob’s great-grandfather had between 120-130 acres homesteaded from Highway 12 to Gardena Road. He divided it up among his children. ... Bob was born and raised here,” Naomi says.
They were living in California when one day, she says, Bob came home and just said, ‘I’m going home, are you coming?’
So they came back here.
“We moved into the original farmhouse, a two-story old farmhouse,” she says. “It had stored grain in it for a few years. There was no water, we had an outhouse and there were mice and rats.”
They got to work, everything on the farm needed work, in addition to the actual farming.
“We got it all painted, the house had green shutters on it. It looked really nice,” she says. “Then it burned down.”
Of course it did.
So they lived in the shop for three months while they started over again. Fire officials told her that mice had chewed the wiring to the hot water heater and started the fire. It began in the upstairs, and then the second floor fell into the main floor as the home burned. Friends and neighbors pulled together to remove as much of the family’s furniture and property as possible. This was in 1966, the new farmhouse was completed in 1967.
Their home now has two stories, with three bedrooms downstairs and the master bedroom upstairs. It’s about 4,000 square feet with three bathrooms. It has an elegant living room and a very practical, functional kitchen. The elegant living room has a pitched, 20-foot ceiling, making it much more spacious.
The home has a midcentury style to it, with ample use of carpeting. Downstairs the carpeting is also used on the walls for insulation and to remove any hint that it is a basement. Bedrooms, bathrooms, a sewing room and a large recreation room are on the lower level. The home also has a lot of storage.
The home is very spacious. They needed the room because they have a large family and they have frequent big family gatherings such as at Easter and Christmas. They also have hosted weddings and anniversary parties, using the home and the large garden acreage.
Once they constructed the new home, they put an addition on, but they haven’t remodeled since then.
“Our granddaughter wants to live here,” Naomi says. “It will be the fifth generation of family on the farm. Great-grandfather is looking down on us saying, ‘Keep it in the family.’”
The farm includes many outbuildings, with a big old barn and the original bunkhouse used by workers on the early homestead.
The grounds consist of gardens with flowers, grass walkways between planting beds and winding grass areas to amble through.
They have a huge windbreak, which was what they wanted way back in 1955.
“My husband and I have planted every tree that’s here. We knew of a farmer who had a nursery and was going out of business, so we took our grain truck and filled it up with pine trees and shrubs,” she says. “We also have fences, and that helps.”
The home was built in two stages.
“The first insurance check we got from the old house was $20,000,” she says.
They had to build gradually and carefully. But they had certain things that had to be in the home.
“What’s very important on a farm is a mud room,” Naomi says. So right off the back patio is a nice place to clean up after work.
When they first came here, she tried to plant flowers in the alkali ground. Her husband told her, “You can’t grow flowers here.”
“I’m from Missouri,” she said. “I can do it.” So she just hauled in dirt, she says.
She got topsoils from the flood of 1964, when she cleaned mud out of people’s basements.
“I got free topsoil,” she says.
The mud needed to be removed from where it had ended up in the flood, much to the dismay of that homeowner and to the benefit of Naomi’s garden.
After the windbreak was planted for protection and future shade, they put together plantings grouped to look like an English garden covering several acres.
Grass walkways wind from flower bed to flower bed, past a pond with hosta plants beside it. Another stopping point is a pagoda she got from the old Lowden Post Office. A small patio set is on a foundation of old brick salvaged from another structure, then on the other side of the garden she has succulents planted in an old granary. Plants were chosen for their look in all seasons, so the garden has something to offer all year long. A row of sumacs turn bright red in the fall.
“We did the landscaping ourselves,” she says.
And they are very happy with the results.