Barn Love


Not too long ago, I had given to Pete the book “Barns of Wisconsin” authored by Jerry Apps, with beautiful photography by his son Steve Apps. I ended up devouring it from front cover to back cover before Pete even had a chance to pick it up. If you love barns and history, particularly the barns and history of Wisconsin, this is just a wonderful book to peruse. Jerry Apps takes the reader on an historic “tour” of barns from the early 1800s to our more modern times. He breaks the book down into sensible chapters that cover many aspects of the barn such as barn ethnicity, barn structures, foundations, types of roofing and even the ubiquitous silo. This is one author who is having a bit of fun with his passionate portrayal of the barn, especially evident when he throws in little side notes such as his discussion on the farmstead’s dooryard and Sears barn plans.

Barns of Wisconsin Jerry Apps

After reading this book though, the big reward for me was becoming more acutely aware of the barn buildings and farms that surround us. Any time that I drive along the roads here, I find myself taking a closer look at the farms’ structures. Little pieces of a puzzle are starting to fall into place, things are becoming a little more recognizable for what they and their functions actually are. As a kid, I’ve always liked or dreamed of exploring the nooks and crannies in old structures such as these barns. (I’m sure many kids feel that way, and many adults for that matter!) And with a couple of barns on the property here, it doesn’t take much effort to find a building to explore. In some cases, a hard hat would be advisable! In fact, I think Pete has a gem on his hands. He knows it and is doing his best to keep the old bank barn together as much as he can while staying true to its integrity.

Bank Barn NW Exterior

I can’t help but be caught up in that desire to preserve a little part of the state’s agricultural history in whatever little way I can. And that’s where “Barns Of Wisconsin” provided another positive; a very helpful list of barn preservation organizations and resources. So maybe, just maybe, we can get this grand old lady registered as a Wisconsin Historic Barn. We’re working on preparing the paperwork for her nomination. But I have to say, as I drive through the surrounding countryside here, I see quite a number of barns that could qualify as well. And that’s a good thing.

But let’s go inside the barn for a moment, its cathedral-like feel is what really grabs and holds on to me. Is it no wonder that kids have always liked to swing from the rafters in places like this?

Bank Barn interior Ceiling

…or climb to heights not known before? Incidentally, Pete’s cousin Brad had to climb this ladder while trying to retrieve a wayward peacock before his wife wisely beckoned him down:

Bank Barn Ladder Up

Suspended above the hay mow is the hay-fork. I believe it is original to the barn. It is quite the fascinating apparatus to behold:

Bank Barn Hay Fork

The barn’s post and beam style seems to indicate that it was built during the late 1800s. Pegs rather than nails were employed to join the timber together. And you can see how some of the beams were hewn from logs on site. Being able to stand inside a place of history leaves me in a state of awe. What fortitude it must have taken to clear land to farm and build a structure such as this without benefit of a Home Depot nearby. I think that makes it pretty special.

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4 thoughts on “Barn Love

  1. What lovely discovery/barn! It almost speaks.
    Barn structure is so specific to its intended function that it seems a violation to make any alterations. I wanted to use our barn for a studio but to insulate it would obliterate its elegant simplicity. So, maybe it would work as a place to put the car in the winter, or so I thought two years ago. I failed to consider that there were some critters with previous reservations. The next spring the glove box was inhabited by a family of mice–nest made from de-structured beach towel. Two porcupine also shared the barn as witness gnawed planks creating a mini front door.
    Last spring I filled the car with moth balls–two boxes as a repellent. This worked but since spring the aroma in the
    jeep is eau’ de grandma’s instead of eau’ de mouse–a questionable improvement. It is a great spring and summer workshop but has been hot this summer. Wasps love linseed oil–very exciting.

  2. Mice made a nest in our car too earlier this summer. I didn’t know wasps love linseed oil, I’m glad you mentioned that. They bug me enough as it is. (ha ha) It’s good to know that I’m not the only one dealing with the “natural elements” in a studio. I need to toughen up and ignore the wasps and spiders and just get on with it.

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