St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Barn Again

    Got started on the south end of the 100 year old barn.  The sill is rotted, the studs rotted at the bottom, and the siding coming off. The insurance salesman said "Fix it if you want insurance."   

   Well, I wasn't as concerned about the insurance as I was about the responsibility of letting a barn fall down on my watch.  So, after studying it for months, thinking about it for months, and getting a load of lumber into the haymow -- jackpine we had sawed 25 years ago and used on our house at Pine Island (left over 2x8, 2x6 and 2x4 rough sawn) got started this morning.  

Cleared off the remains of the roof on the silo room below and put a treated 3/4 sheet of plywood across as a platform to stand on and cut out a door opening in the haymow to get to it as well as cleared out the south end of the barn haymow -- lots of old loose and broken bales so decent access to the barn. 

   The sills have to be replaced above the 1-foot deep cinder blocks.  The vertical studs have to be partially replaced and new ones nailed side of the old ones that are rotten.  They were above the silo door and silo chute and the moisture from 100 years of cows breathing out -- all going up the wall was not very good on the lumber!

Silo was made in two stages.  Originally a wood stave over pit, then blocks and later more blocks.  Between the silo and the barn is the silo room and above it was a wooden silo chute going to the top of the silo.  Moisture from the barn went into the silo room and up the chute, rotting the barn on that end. 

Doesn't look too good!

Cut a door opening along the end to get to the flat platform on top of the old silo room.  A place to stand. 

The blue cinder blocks are 1 foot deep and sound.  Dad and his brothers and the Fors "boys" cut out the original wood walls and put in the blocks in 1950 or 1951--doing a section at a time.  I remember 1/2 of one side of the barn open to the air, propped up on tamarack poles inserted with screw jacks to lift the haymow.  

Scott and I raised one beam holding the hay mow an inch up with our handyman jack and a 4x4 ash post.  This gives us room to tear out the rotten sill and insert a new treated one, that as Dad would have said, "should do me out."  Note the haymow floor joists are actually old logs from the original 1880s barn that was dismantled and used in the new barn.  Most houses and barns in our area were built in the 1914-1920 range when farmers got decent prices for their crops due to WWI. 

Looking up - the ends of the haymow floor boards are rotted off too.  This is the sill and joist above the door into the silo room--both need replacing.  

Looking into the barn from the silo room.  The pipes are the vacuum line and the round item is the vacuum gauge.  We ran at 15 lbs vacuum as I remember. 

Log joists strengthened by a barn swallow nest

Stored away in the junk in the barn is the Honda 55 scrambler that was so fond of melting a hole in the piston if run for very far.  Had to carry chewing gum to patch it on the road.
Silo from the inside.  Dad and uncle Ralph laid the first layer above the pit shortly after he bought the farm in 1941.  The second addition was a few years later.   
The silo pit was about 7 feet deep originally.  Every fall we put a hose and pump into the pit and pumped out the water from summer to get ready for the silo filling crew.  Grandpa would come with his Rumely Oil Pull, carefully level the filler next to the silo, Uncle Chan would climb the silo and we would pull up the metal pipes and rope them solid.  Then careful backing into the belt to get everything lined up and the Rumely started running for the day as the neighbors brought their hay racks and pitched corn bundles onto the loads and pulled into the filler where it fed into the whirling blades and was blown into the silo.  My first job was to level and tromp the silage inside the silo as it game in.  

In the pit, the acid silages and gradually eaten away the cement.  Last filled in about 1986, nature is taking over the pit earthen floor.