Skip to Content

The Barn

Posted on June 8th, 2013

I cannot believe how quickly the past six weeks have gone by.  I have been ‘inundated’ by the legislative session, preparing for Michael’s graduation party, and most recently, by flooding throughout Iowa.  It has been quite a busy time.  Fortunately we have been able hike at Old Man’s Timber, and have welcomed many guests during this time.  In addition to the timber restoration, I have shared with them that I am also working to dismantle, move and rebuild a historic barn.  Here is the background story of “The Barn”.

Last year, shortly after Miechelle and I purchased Old Man’s Timber, I stopped by to introduce myself to our neighbors to the south, Steve and Mary.  After a brief introduction, Steve and I began talking about our plans for Old Man’s Timber.  I shared with him that I intended to build a traditional post and beam barn structure to house my tractor, preferably, I wanted to find an old barn that I could dismantle and rebuild for this project.  Steve paused for a moment, then shared with a wry smile “I have a barn you can have …. if you want it”.  To say the least, I immediately experienced a range of emotions:  joy, shock, excitement, and anxiety!  Steve and I took a quick tour of the barn, and agreed to broaden the discussion to include Mary and Miechelle.

After a few weeks to mutually think things over, we were in agreement that the old barn, circa 1900, would be dismantled and moved to the prairie of Old Man’s Timber, only 1/4 mile away.  Let the planning, and work begin!

The Monitor-style barn is 50′ long by 53′ wide.  It has a center bay that is 21′ wide along with 2 permanent lean-to’s attached to the east and west side.  The east lean-to appeared to be used for dairy cows, the center section to store equipment and the west lean-to for hogs or sheep.  The upper level was used to store hay and straw, most likely loose hay in the early years, followed by rectangular throw bales in the later year.  The upper level has an operable hay door, along with a track and hay carrier.  It is a classic Iowa Barn.

Barn Exterior Spring 2012

Barn Exterior Spring 2012


Given that the barn is over 100 years old, it is in pretty good condition.  The primary frame, which is white pine, is in excellent condition, albeit with a slight lean to the east.  Also, it is noteworthy that the roof of the center section and east lean-to are both in very good condition.  I believe this is probably because the original cedar shakes had not been covered with asphalt shingles, with the subsequent weight often the demise of a straight roof ridge line.

Barn Interior Spring 2012

Barn Interior Spring 2012


The west lean-to roof hasn’t faired quite as well, it collapsed a few years ago during a strong wind storm.  As challenging as this project promised to be, dealing with the collapsed roof would likely cause some additional work to safely handle the broken roof rafters and sheathing.

Collapsed Roof of the West Lean-to

Collapsed Roof of the West Lean-to


Undoubtedly, this will be quite a project, one that requires vision, planning, patience and a lot of hard work.  In the end, I believe saving this old barn will be well worth the effort.  Each year, we continue to lose historic and majestic barns all across our landscape as family farms transition to larger agricultural production operations.

I am happy to say, this barn is one that will be saved.  Saving The Barn is a big undertaking, I have many friends that have offered to help, and most importantly a supportive wife.  Without them, none of this will be possible.

Lastly, I believe that we have been called to be part of a greater plan.  To become the stewards of Old Man’s Timber, and then to find a barn on the adjacent property that is available to us.  It is clear to me that there is a Greater One who guides us along the path of life, it is our responsibility to follow His lead.

I hope you hear your calling and find your path.


2 Responses

  1. Wow — What a project! I’m happy that you’ll get to save a barn.

Leave a Reply to Julia in West Des Moines