We have an old barn on our acreage that has been around a lot longer than I have. My earliest memories of it are when Ray and Lena, neighbors and friends of my parents, lived here. They raised crops and livestock, including a few dairy cows, and the old stanchions are still in place.
As barns go, it is nothing special with corrugated steel used for both roof and siding. Doors and windows are trimmed in dark red making a pleasing combination with the gray steel.
A tornado passed through here in the early 1950s damaging the barn’s stone foundation on the north side. Repairs were made using concrete blocks; so the north side does not match the other three sides.
It is used for storage now and serves as a reminder that this was once a working farm raising crops and livestock along with three sons whose children now have grandchildren.
Time and weather have continued to slowly wear down the barn. Rust is showing on some of the steel sheets, and the wind has blown a couple of sheets off the roof exposing the rafters.
What do you do with an old barn that no longer has a useful purpose, especially if it is slowly deteriorating? I did not want to see the barn destroyed, but I did not want to spend a lot of money on it either. The hole in the roof needed the most attention because a leaky roof will end the life of a barn quickly.
I was afraid I was going to have to call someone to give me a quotation on a new steel roof; a large expense, but one that would eliminate the roof problem. Something really needed to be done this fall as another windy winter was on the way and I could see more steel sheets probably being blown loose.
Then about 10 days ago, a strange out- of-state pickup pulled in my yard. The driver was a painter who had a crew and he was out looking for work. Would I like to have my barn painted? He certainly had my interest.
We walked over to the barn, and he checked the four sides. He said he could paint the roof and repair it so it was weather tight. Now he really had my interest. He quoted me a price that was reasonable and I talked it over with my wife. We gave him the go ahead.
The crew showed up that day and went to work. When they left, the barn had a shiny coat of silver paint and a good roof. It was ready for quite a few more winters.
I was pleased because the neighbors I knew as Ray and Lena were always careful with their money. In fact, I suspect Ray was as cheap as I am; always wanting to delay buying or repairing until it had to be done. They would have struggled with wondering what to do about the barn as much as I did.
So, barring any wandering tornadoes that pass through, the old barn is in good enough shape right now and it may outlast me.
Then the next owner can wonder, “What am I going to do about the old barn?”
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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