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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

Barn Envy

Posted Thursday, August 21, 2008, at 6:16 AM

(Photo)
Our barn when we bought the place...
Unless you have a crappy barn, you probably don't have barn envy. We've got a pretty crappy barn, so you can probably guess that I have barn envy. Barn envy is the feeling I get whenever I see an old barn that has been saved from the dozer or match. Our barn could have met that fate easily, but I wanted a barn for some reason so now I'm paying the price.

Around Cambridge, there are plenty of old barns, but only a few give me barn envy. It appears that modern day farmers don't use barns much anymore. Pole and steel buildings have almost completely replaced the old wooden structures with the cupola on the roof...if indeed a cupola is present. The barns that really catch my eye are those having a coat of barn red (why were barns usually painted red?) and that have been well maintained or rebuilt.

Take my barn for example. The place we bought was a hog operation at one time, and the barn was used for... well, hogs. Unfortunately for me, the hog operations created a rather deep layer of manure that sat against the walls since who knows when, and rotted the sill plates and many of the wall studs. For a modern day farmer to spend the time on the old structure on our place would be out of the question. It is too small for modern farming operations and would quickly become a training exercise for the local volunteer fire department or be buried with all the other unwanted items hidden underground already.

Enter us city folk with the grand idea of saving the barn. Well, to make a long story short, our barn hasn't been buried or burned yet and it's a lot more stable than when we bought the place. Most of the bad sill plates and rotted studs have been repaired, and much of the damaged siding on the barn has been replaced with salvaged siding from a derelict farmstead nearby. I hope to be mostly done with repairs and painting in a couple three weeks.

It will look just like any old barn that somebody painted when I get done, but at least it will look like we care about the poor old thing. It's too small a barn for much of any real use. I'll put the mechanized assault vehicle (riding mower) in there once I get the shi... er.. stuff all shoveled out, and the building is pretty good habitat for barn swallows and a dry place for all the salvage wood around the place. Too bad it never had a cupola, but then I have no idea how I'd get up there to paint it anyway.



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The City Slickers
Brian Hoag
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