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Finding A New Life For An Old Barn – Keeping A Family Treasure Alive

There is nothing in the world like the charm and aged beauty of an old barn. Especially one that has been in the family for more than 100 years. Our re-built and reclaimed old barn at the farm is simply priceless to us.

old barn

Our “new” old barn as it looks today

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look down from our back porch and stare in amazement. To me, it is, and will always be magical – for so very many reasons.

In all fairness, although we call it old, our barn has only been up at our little farm for 6 years now.

But a large portion of the old wood and metal that make up it’s bones have been around for the better part of a hundred years or more.

And if they could talk, I am sure they could tell plenty of stories.

We built our barn from two turn of the century barns we disassembled piece by piece.

What makes it most special is one of those barns happened to be my dad’s barn. And one that he himself, with the help of family and friends, tore down some 45 years ago from my Uncle’s farm to put up at our house.  (See : Our New Old Barn)

Its amazing when you think how many in my family are connected to those old wooden boards in some way.

The barn served so many purposes over the years. It was a storage and farm barn for my Uncle.

For my father, it was a place to store his old tractor and truck, and doubled as a workshop as well. Finally, it was time to find a new purpose on our little farm.

old barn

My dad’s old barn as we disassembled it back in 2012.

Those old beams, boards and metal were the backbone of our new barn at the farm. It was the very first “real” structure that Mary and I built together on what was then a barren, 3 acre plot of land.

At the time, I am not sure we really knew what the farm would become for us. But building it taught us that we could do anything we put our minds to.

Especially if we simply worked at it a little every day. That lesson is and will always be so important to us. Its also why the old barn had a chapter all to itself in our book Growing Simple.

And did we ever work at that old barn!

Pulling old nails from boards, planing down others smooth. Carefully cutting the old pieces of Dad’s barns’ metal roof to become the new lower walls,

And when it was finished, it was ours. And did we ever need it!

old barn

Remodeling continues now with the concrete floor in place

Once it was re-built, it became the center of the world for us at the farm.

In the beginning, it was our only place for shelter when it rained. It also stored our old tractor, and all of our garden tools.

It collected rain from its roof to water our garden and plants. And it was our only means of real shelter when a storm came up. Finally, in 2016, it served as our storage facility as we built the house.

But once the house and garage were finished, the barn sat a bit empty. With storage and shelter in the garage, it simply wasn’t used as much.

It sat patiently waiting for its next big purpose. And late last year, we found exactly what that was.

In early September, we hosted our first ever Farm to Table dinner at the farm.

The plan all along was to eat outdoors on big open tables. But Hurricane Harvey’s remnants had other plans.

Starting two days before the event, it rained. And it kept raining. So much, that we finally decided we had to move the event indoors to the barn. And it was magical.

There was something perfect about sharing dinner with great friends in such a special place to us. It was then and there we knew exactly what the barn was going to become.

Our own little farm-to-table and family event center at the farm. As the website has grown, so has the opportunity to connect with folks from all over.

We had such a great time last year hosting the event, we thought we might as well make it a permanent feature at the farm.

old barn

With plans for more farm to table dinners like this one last year, the barn remodel was a must.

With that in mind, we knew we had to make a few upgrades to the old structure.

Late this fall, we cut in new doors and added matching lean-to porches on each side. We also decided to add in concrete for a smooth level surface.

Over the winter months, we will finish off the inside and loft, add power, and hopefully, create a great space to host our dinners and family events.

Our goal is to start in April and host a Farm to Table dinner on the last Saturday of each month, each with its own seasonal theme.

We will have more details to come, but for now, at least the old barn still knows she has a purpose. And will so for many years to come.

Here’s to another 40 years for Dad’s old barn! Jim and Mary.

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