A Bit of History
We’ve been told that our gracious old barn was built in the 1700s. It has stood witness to generations of historical events, and has weathered many storms. Consider that this barn may have already stood on this soil here around the time of the American Revolution.
Our ancestors were smart. They situated this most important building centrally, on the highest elevation of the farm, where it always stays dry, and commands a view of the fields all around.
The original post and beam structure was added to with lofts for hay storage along the sides, and two higher lofts over the main central aisle. These photos give you a sense of the structure.
Each generation has added or subtracted something to the main building: an equipment shed along the west side, the chicken coop, a tiny milk room in front. In the past, a different configuration where the chicken coop is now, housed the farm’s horses.
Inside, the barn at one time was adapted with raised rows of stanchions for cows along one side of the wide middle aisle, and a two foot wide concrete pad was poured for a feed trough. At each renovation, the builder used what lumber he found on hand to scab things together, and we ended up with layers of construction details. But the old soul of the barn remains under all this change.
An old barn is a living entity. This one surely has a soul, and a very deep history that we have come to appreciate and love. But it is not our intention to freeze this building in time. We honor its history by adapting it to our use, just as earlier generations did while being sensitive to, and preserving its integrity.
Ever since restarting our present day farming operation, we have struggled with storage. Through the generations, the barn had become chopped up into a series of overstuffed bays along both sides of the central aisle. Generations of accumulation resulted in a huge pileup of items. Some of the items are of historical value and great interest, other stuff was well, just stuff…Several cleanups later, we have carved out a few areas that work better for us: our pickup station, and a new packing area and cooler room, but there’s still much more to be done.
A great deal of moving and re-moving of equipment and tools goes on here every year, as we strive to accommodate all the activities around the farm. In fact, too much moving around of the same stuff, as we struggle to adapt an outmoded use of space. We have long known that we can use this space better, and lots of really good ideas have been floating around as talk. Some of these ideas involve major changes to the internal configurations.
A New Floor
Our CSA operation has brought the public into our barn, and the uneven flooring has been a hazard that we have ignored too long. Time to fix it! So last weekend, the men started sledging out the old concrete trough and pulling up the old floor and the cribbing underneath. You can see the edge of that concrete pad just behind the pile of wood. All of the old floor boards have been ripped out, soon to be replaced with new ones from the Herrick Farm sawmill.
These boards are probably 200 years old, and are still in pretty good shape, in spite of sitting on the ground all these years.
By next summer, we will have a nice, even floor in our pickup stand.