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Repurposing a corn crib

By Staff | Oct 26, 2013

MIKE NOTHEM credits his wife with the idea of turning a former corn crib into the family’s new gazebo/dining patio and children’s play area. It sits in their farmyard near Remsen.

REMSEN – Plymouth County farmer Mike Nothem doesn’t mind trying new things.

He successfully added Holstein feeder steers to his cattle operation and discovered the isowean finishing pig program a valuable tool for his swine business.

Isowean is a tool for isolating same-age pigs during weaning to protect them from pathogens within the parent herd.

So when his wife, Becky Nothem, suggested something new for the backyard, he made it happen.

It’s an 11,000-bushel grain bin that’s found new life as a patio for adults and play area for Nothem’s 16 grandchildren and their friends’ children.

ADULT FAMILY MEMBERS and guests can visit or eat in the upper deck of the gazebo just off the family patio while children can enjoy their time playing in the lower level sandbox.

“She likes flowers and does a lot of gardening,” Nothem said of his wife. “She spotted the photo of a similar (corn crib) in a magazine.

“We talked about it and started looking for a suitable bin for the project.”

What the Nothems would eventually find was to bring with it a bit of ironic family history.

“It was back in 1954 when my dad, Hubert, who is 100, went to the Clay County Fair in Spencer and wanted to buy a crib,” Nothem said. “A sales representative said he’d just talked with one of our neighbors who wanted to buy two cribs and if Dad were to buy one, there could be deal for the neighbor and Dad agreed to it.”

The neighbor subsequently used this crib until his farm was sold and it sat unused by the new owners.

THE LOWER LEVEL is outfitted with a children’s play table, toys and a sand floor.

Nothem located the crib and owner, Paul Ahlers, agreed to sell it. The crib was relocated to the Nothem farmstead.

“Not all bins are the same, ” Nothem said, “and this one surprisingly has the iron bars and wire spacing that has allowed us to install 2-by-6s we needed to pour concrete floor pillars for the patio floor and to proceed from there.

Blue lights under the roof, similar to those used for Christmas lighting, were installed with future plans for a ceiling fan on the upper level of the unit.

A foot of sand was poured below for the children’s play area.

“Yes, we’ve been enjoying it,” Nothem said after completing the project in August. “The evening breezes make it cool and comfortable. And while it’s great to entertain friends and family, it’s also nice to just go sit out there and relax.”

The grandchildren, he added, have had equally good times while playing in the lower level.

Nothem said he has another project in mind.

“We’ve also got an old grain elevator out there,” he said. “What with Becky’s interest in flowers, what’s to say that if we were to replace the elevator chain with a drip hose, there could be a constant water supply for a lot more flowers at every level,” he added. “I think it’s that might well be worth thinking about.”

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