St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Round Barn

My friend Jon, is a round barn enthusiast.  He invited a few of us to visit a round barn near Kennedy Park near Amery.  I took a few photos. 

Several round barns were built about 1913 in this neighborhood just east of Kennedy Park

Round barns used much less lumber according to the farm magazines of the day.

A very thick stone and concrete foundation.  The owner has filled the gutter with wooden rounds. 

A center silo, walkway and then feeding trough with the cows facing the center.  The joists above are half anchored to the silo and half to the post beams. 

The silo starts with a below floor pit, then concrete topped with wood staves.  Inside silos were easy to feed from but hard to fill and very slow to thaw out after the winter insulated with snow. 

Each of the roof boards spans only two rafters--so short poor quality lumber could be used.  However each had to be cut a different length and at an angle. 

The original vertical siding boards were never painted.  The roof was last replaced by an Amish owner in the late 1940s, with the current owner patching it and trying to keep it sound.  Very expensive to roof a barn!

A sunken manger in front of the cows. 

You can see the manure carrier track encircling the barn above.  
Round barns were popular from about 1905-1920.  They seem to have faded by the way after that.   
My great great uncle Sundsmo, a Norwegian carpenter in Maple Grove Township, Barron County WI, built a large round barn about the same time.  He said he did it to prove he could do it--if anyone wanted that style rather than the more traditional barns he usually built. 
   Dad thought the barn was inconvenient to use.  You had to drive the horses into the haymow to fill the silo or unload the hay.  That took up space that could otherwise be used for storage, and many horses were skittish about the whole process.  
   The silo filler had to be located near the silo, yet the belted engine had to be outside the barn.  They joked that if a calf got loose in the barn, you could never catch her as she just ran around and around--no corner to stop her in.  
   Some say the Shakers invented round barns so the Devil couldn't catch you in the corner either.  For whatever reason, the fad stalled by the 1920s and the few round barns left, are like barns in general, falling down from disuse and the expense of keeping us buildings no longer used.