In the round
By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY
STORM LAKE – Round barns have become an endangered species in Iowa, especially in the western half of the state, where relatively few round barns were built. The striking round barn that graces Clyde Krause’s farm south of Storm Lake, however, is an exception with a unique story.
It all started after a blaze destroyed the old barn on the farm more than 100 years ago.
“Around this time my grandfather William Mauser had a hired a stone mason to build a silo,” said Krause, 81, who grew up on the Buena Vista Township farm. “When the barn burned down, the mason encouraged my grandfather to build a round barn to replace the old one.”
Mauser thought this sounded like a good idea. In 1910, he hired the mason to build a 60-foot round barn on his family’s Century Farm, which is located just north of the Sac County line.
Designed as an all-purpose barn, the clay-tile structure included areas for milk cows, hogs and horses, along with a water tank in the middle of the barn. “Originally, the barn also contained a bin in the haymow that could hold 3,000 bushels of oats,” said Krause, a retired financial planner who farmed for many years. “There were two chutes where the oats could be delivered to the animals below.”
Preserving rural Iowa’s history
Krause can remember when his father, Ted Krause, used work horses on the farm and milked a small herd of three to five Jersey cows in the barn. “Dad used the barn pretty much the way his father-in-law did,” he said.
Krause raised his 4-H calves in the east side of the barn when he was a member of the Hayes Hustlers 4-H Club. While cows and horses are gone, remnants of the barn’s role in livestock production remain, from a small collection of horseshoes hanging on the south side of an interior wall to the metal track attached to the underside of the haymow floor.
The track is positioned around the interior perimeter of the barn behind the livestock stalls. A large, metal bucket that was once attached to this innovative, labor-saving manure management system also remains in the barn.
“You shoveled manure and used bedding into the bucket and then pulled the bucket to the door, where everything could be dumped into a manure spreader parked outside the barn,” Krause said.
The barn has withstood the elements fairly well for more than a century, although time has taken a toll on some of the hollow clay tiles on the building’s exterior. Krause hired contractors to patch the damaged tile with mortar. He also had a local contractor apply a silicone coating to the tiles to seal the exterior of the barn and protect it from moisture.
“Generally, there’s not much maintenance with this barn,” Krause said. “You just have to protect what’s there.”
That includes the roof, which Krause replaced again about eight years ago. Replacing the roof on a round barn isn’t the easiest job, since each single has to be tapered to fit properly, he added.
“We used No.1 wooden shingles this time,” said Krause, who noted that the original shingles lasted nearly 70 years. “When we replaced the roof the first time, we put asphalt shingles on top of the original shingles, and the new ones only lasted about 20 years.”
The task of re-roofing the barn revealed just how large the impressive size of the barn’s distinctive metal cupola.
“The cupula is 12 feet tall, and the ring at the top is 6 feet in diameter,” Krause said. “I had no idea it was that big.”
“It has always been part of my life”
Today, Krause and his wife, Marcia, use their barn for storage, although it also provides a comfortable home for some barn cats, too.
“Isn’t the craftsmanship in this barn amazing?” asked Marcia Krause as the couple’s cat Trixie followed the couple into the haymow on a sunny autumn afternoon.
The barn is such an iconic part of their farm that the Krauses have had a picture of it etched on their tombstone in the Immanuel Reformed United Church of Christ Cemetery, which is located about half a mile south of the farm.
“The barn has always been part of my life,” Clyde Krause said. “We’ve kept the round barn because it’s unique, and it’s a beautiful addition to the farm.”
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