farmstead files

In which the Queen tears down a barn {with a little help…}

I’ve always loved old structures and barns especially—they seem to symbolize the America of yesteryear: strong, useful, practical, utilitarian, and in their very practicality, beautiful.  So, I’m always bummed to see a barn fall gradually into disrepair, recognizing that it’s nigh to impossible to replace the structure for both practical and monetary reasons once its down. Even more, the crumbling structures signify the last physical markers of a long-gone agrarian culture.

Late last fall my mom called, informing me that her friend had purchased a local place, complete with dilapidated outbuildings that needed to come down. Were Farm Boy and I interested in demolition? Well, yes of course.

See, when I can’t rebuild or restore something, in my mind the next best way to honor the structure is to give it a second life.


A familial connection

This structure deserved the attention.  For one, the original farmstead has connections to Farm Boy’s family. Rummaging through the barn before the initial teardown, I found a huge, heavy old mailbox and hefted it out to the “SAVE” pile without paying attention to the faded lettering on the galvanized metal.  Farm Boy curious about the piece, came over and examined it more thoroughly, noting:

“Hey, this says ‘JOHN  LINTULA!’  Rach, this has gotta’ be my great-grandpa’s mailbox!”

Farm Boy never met his Great-Grandpa John, but he’s heard stories.  One story according to family lore remembers Grandpa John—as an old man—sprinting to the the mailbox, grabbing the mail, and sprinting back to the house.  So this incredible-in-its-own right object—likely the mailbox he sprinted to—offers a tangible connection to the man who is the great, great-grandfather to our children. It gives a girl goosebumps.

For a full size image, click through the gallery //

Second, the building dates back to the 1920s and has been standing nearly a 100 years, a feat that is a testament to the barn’s builder and the materials used in its construction. But the years have slowly eroded the foundation, and the structure—as we all do—is losing ground to unrelenting Time.

For a full size image, click through the gallery //


Time to bring in some reinforcements…

We were interested, but also overwhelmed.  Have you have ever looked at a barn, with the intent to dismantle it, piece by piece?  Ummmmmm.  Me either.  Trust me when I say it’s an overwhelming undertaking.  Time to call in some friends who suffer from the same version of cray-cray we do: e.g., the kind who agree that tearing down a barn will be FUN!

I’ll tell you more about them later, but suffice it to say, they’re both awesome, though in entirely different ways.  He {Troy} doesn’t talk a lot but will occasionally crack a dry, witty joke and is, quite conveniently, a carpenter by trade.  She {Heidi} is a total BA, ready to wield a chainsaw, sawzall, or sledgehammer at a moment’s notice.  The best part: she shares my middle school sense of humor, and together we make a lot of mildly salacious jokes, in keeping with a 14-year-old boy’s mind and general maturity level; the guys mostly look at us incredulously, shaking their heads. We think we’re funny. That’s what matters. Seriously, when it’s 13 degrees Fahrenheit, and you’re ankle deep in 100- year-old dust and hauling junk for 6 hours, if it takes middle school humor to get you through, so be it.


Day 1: In which I wielded a wrecking bar, badly

Day one commenced with tearing off the metal roofing, using ladders, tenacity, and general mad carpenter skills.  Let me be clear: I was atop the roof as well, though I lacked the efficiency of my male counterparts.  I removed one panel for either one’s three.  I’m competitive, though I quiiiiiiiiickly realized that there was NO way I would match their pace. Still, I plugged along, seating my wrecking bar under the old nails, pounding the hammer, and wrenching the nail until it released the tin.  My hands, wrists, back, and hamstrings ached after a short 30 minutes.  Dismantling a barn is not for the faint of heart, I tell you…


Day 2: In which I hauled a lot of junk

I can pretty much sum up Day 2 in the above heading. We made a significant dent in the project in those first two days, and the next time we headed to the barn, we brought a man lift so as to safely remove the galvanized metal roofing.  The remaining demo was an unexpectedly poignant and moving experience, as I observe in the next chapter in this story. Stay tuned!  It’s nearly written.

To history and to herstory, to beautiful barns, and to days gone by,


Queen P


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