the little red barn that could

Dear Friends…
What can we say to all of you? We are overwhelmed with the response we got about the red barn…people cheering and smiling and working and freezing and so thankful to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It was a ::very:: good day. Curt and I arrived at 8:30am followed very closely by Gary, Bob, and Mitch. At one point, there were 14 adults, 5 children, and 1 dog- all working on a 136 year-old barn. By 11:30am, all but an eighth of the siding was off. By 2:30pm, everyone but Bob, Mitch, Curt, me, and the dog were left…and only because we wanted to measure a few things and Mitch wanted to drive the bobcat. It went, as Bill(y) said, like lightening.

Things we learned:

  • Because of the roof (straight) and comparing it to others in the area, our barn was probably built in the 1870s.
  • Our barn is “medium sized,” according to Steve Steir- founder of the Michigan Barn Preservation Network who drove down to see how we were doing. He was pleased with the work and with the health of the barn. He said it’s really in great shape.
  • The barn was desgined so that an entire team of horses pulling a hay wagon could turn around inside.
  • Originally, there were no lofts in the barn. Hay was stacked from the floor up.
  • We learned from Faith’s mom (a Greenville resident) that the barn and homestead was last owned by Mr. Lilly. Some years ago, he left for Detroit to pick up his wife from the airport and was shot and killed. The widow lived a tthe farm for sometime, but eventually had to give it up. The barn is a landmark in the growing town, and many residents were sad to see the sign go up that development was coming.
  • The Daily News (local paper) came out and interviewed us…hopefully now every knows it’s going to a good home and will last at least another 136 years about 10 miles away.
  • Steve also lent us some really amazing old-school tools to finish our work with…2 of them are in the photos. One is a peg-pusher-outer, for lack of a real name. I think it’s descriptive enough. The other is a yoke for 2 people to haul out large beams.
  • Steve told Bob to measure as much as possible from the rafters for accuracy. Why? Because the bottoms of barns are rarely square…things run into them too often. Interesting, since we had our own little incident with the bobcat…

Next Saturday, the roof comes off and the beams get labeled. Week after next, the remaining skeleton comes down and the entire thing is hauled to Montcalm Avenue (the Farm) to be raised again hopefully in a year or so. We’ll see.

A unopened ::old:: glass bottle of Coke was found in the manger… obviously a direct sign from God that the barn is supposed to be mine. Anne walked away with a horseshoe. I tried to give Jo a plunger, but I think she threw it in the trash.

Best quote of the day:

Ben (4) is talking to Madyline (11) who is swinging on an electrical wire with a board attached to the bottom of it. [To the right, you see a picture of the “swing” just after it, um, collapsed. It is obviously not an OSHA-approved apparatus. After lunch, Maddy decides she wants to give the swing another try.]

Ben: My dad says we shouldn’t swing on that anymore because it’s broke.

Maddy: Well, my dad and your dad are two different people.

This makes sense to Ben…and he walks away to find his hammer.

To all of you who dreamed and who asked and who came and who celebrated with us in spirit and in work. Thank you. We’ll keep you posted.


About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

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