The barn was built around a century ago. A pair of double doors on the front flapped when the wind blew, and a short service door was on the side. It wasn’t a big barn, about 30 feet wide by 40 feet long with a small hay mow above. It had a couple of windows for light, and of course a window in the peak. There was a hitching rail outside that gave it a certain welcoming charm. A charm that seemed to say, “tie up to the rail, and c’mon in.”
Here it was like a beehive with too many fuzzy cheeked teen-agers who couldn’t possibly be experienced enough to be of much help. But work was being accomplished; bents, end walls and partitions were being assembled like magic and raised into place with well-coordinated, effortless ease and precision. No tempers were flaring, no egomaniacs were trying to steal the show, and there was not the usual ten percent doing ninety percent of the work.
One of the most striking aspects of this development is the strength and confidence that comes from this communal way of living. While it is impressive to build a barn in a day it seems even more impressive to imagine building four barns or six, and all the rest of the needs of a community. For these young Amish families the vision of a shared agricultural community is strong, and clear.
A good many farmers are coming around to the idea that it pays to invest a little bit more in a building at the start so as to get away from the upkeep expense later on. They are turning to clay tile more and more. The building material dealers and the rural builders are lining up with the farmers on this proposition. The lumber dealers are carrying in stock a line of all the commonly used sizes, and the builders are finding out that it is no trick at all to lay up a tile wall and make a good job of it.
By the late 1970s, Davis Farm was sailing along serenely, but a seed of discontent had begun to grow in Jerome. His main dairy barn, aesthetically attractive as it was, was not especially efficient. There were too many, too short, rows of stalls, the stalls were a bit small for the contemporary, larger Holsteins, and some of the stalls were even still wood floored, a situation not favored by the milk inspectors. This also made it difficult to install gutter cleaners, pipeline milkers and other labor saving equipment. Chores were involving too much labor or too much time or both. In brief, Jerome was ready for the major investment in a new barn.
When we see an old barn that has fallen into ruin or that has been torn down to put up a new pole barn or other building, it just about breaks our hearts. So when we started talking about what kind of buildings we wanted on our twenty-three acres (there were none) my husband, Brian, and I decided we wanted to try to find an old post and beam barn to dismantle and rebuild instead of a pricey, new-fangled pole barn which we couldn’t afford.
Below is a short piece from Starting Your Farm, by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller. Click the links below to see Chapter One of Starting Your Farm and to view the book in our online bookstore. “You may have purchased a farm with a fantastic set of old barns and sheds. You, on […]
In our archives, we have a big Starline plan book with detailed engineer’s drawings of what were once popular and dreamed of dairy barns. These designs represent an apex of the era of mixed crop and livestock farming, a system which frequently centered on a milking herd of a dozen to four dozen cows, a handful of beef cattle, some hogs, chickens and perhaps even sheep. Across the upper latitudes of the U.S. and all of Canada, these massive barns provided ample space for hay and grain storage along with winter quarters for livestock.
There are 6 stanchions: first Juliette, named for the great grandma of all modern herbalists, Juliette de Bairacli Levy. Number Two cow is Masha, our best milker, best disposition, glorious teats and not an ungraceful line on her entire being. All the animals here were born on the farm with the exception of Nell, the next cow on the stanchion floor. She is Juliette’s mother. Hazel is in the other big stall across from the heifer stall. She’s dry now and 7 months pregnant, and I’m keeping her apart because she will eat too much if she is in with the milkers.
Warm barns make for cheery farmers but they are not so good for the animals. Furry farm creatures, especially ruminants, are suited by their natures for temperatures far lower than man finds comfortable. As has been observed widely, farm animals, given the choice, will often spend their time out of doors even at very low temperatures in winter. Animal shelters need only prevent the occupants from being exposed to draft and humidity, for it is these and not the cold, that lead to winter diseases in bird and beast.