Category Archives: Barn

Capturing the Splendid Fall

Although the weather has turned cooler the past few days, the month of October has been a series of one lovely fall day after another here in Minnesota.  The temperatures were above normal, the sun was almost always shining, and the fall colors seemed more vibrant than usual.  Like many, the weather drew me outdoors and I often found myself reaching for my phone to capture some of the beauty just outside my front door.  All the photos below were taken with my iPhone 5s and edited in Instagram.

This first photo was taken in the evening and features a small border garden along our granary with Sedum and ornamental grasses.  All of the red hues captured my eye.

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Outside in the garden one morning, I stopped to take a picture after noticing the rays of sunshine highlighting the yellow maple, contrasted with the still-blooming shrub roses and Russian sage in my garden.  The barn in the background was the perfect backdrop.

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The lovely morning sunlight caught my eye once again a week or so later, as it lit up the Autumn Blaze Maple outside my bedroom window.

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And finally, this picture is from the woods that surround our home, spilling down the hillside to the river and to our field.  In the evening, as the sun would start to set, the warm light would shine through the yellow canopy of leaves and the scene felt so magical.  For about a week, I made sure to step outside each evening to take in the spectacle of light.

IMG_2989Wherever you might live, I hope your fall has been equally as splendid.  While the leaves have all fallen off the trees now, perhaps we will still be blessed with a few more days of warm temperatures and abundant sunshine. Once can always hope! 🙂

Lynell

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Filed under Barn, Flower, Gardens, Photography

Snowy Sunrise

We received another 10 inches or so of snow yesterday through this morning.  The wind is howling and the snow is drifting quickly.  School was canceled, yet again.  I was unsuccessful in making it out of our driveway this morning for work and got stuck in a three-foot snow drift.  There really is no point in complaining about the long winter any more though.  It is old news.

So, since I cannot think of anything very positive to say about Minnesota, our winters, the weather, etc., I thought I would just post this picture I took this morning.  I took it with my iPhone 5s and did a quick edit in Instagram.

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Hope you are staying warm and out of the howling winds.  Spring will come eventually, right?

Lynell

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Filed under Barn, Daily life, Outbuildings

Seeing RED

The thing that I like least about blogging is the writing part.  Sometimes I just do not have anything particularly interesting to say.

The thing that I love about blogging is the pictures.  I love to take pictures. I love to see other people’s pictures.  And I love to share my pictures.

So, that’s exactly what I am going to do in this post – just share a few of my pictures.  As I looked at the latest collection of my shots, I noticed a lot featuring various shades of red. Below are just a few.

Our prairie-fire crabapple tree outside the kitchen window is full of red fruit and reddish leaves.

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A closer-up view of the fruit.  And notice the red granary is in the background.DSC_0036

My Autumn Joy Sedum plants have turned a very dark pinkish-red.  Even after several hard frosts, they are still looking good. DSC_0050

Some leaves from one of our many Autumn Blaze Maple trees around here.  While many other trees have shed their leaves, these are hanging on to theirs for now.

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While walking through the woods behind the house to mark small maple trees for transplanting next spring, I came across this red fence post.  It is a remnant from the previous owners who once had cattle in the woods around the house.
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Our singular Amur Maple tree is showing off some nice shades of red.
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And one of my favorite sites around here…our red barn.  red2

A view of two of the brilliant-colored Autumn Blaze Maples.
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And last, but not least, here come the guys across the field on our Razor – Jesse on the left and our youngest behind the wheel.  Ok, this picture does not really fit into my “red” theme, but I like it anyhow.  And there are some red trees in the background. 🙂
red4We have spent today starting our preparations for winter.  Jesse started his first round of the leaf battle and I stayed inside to remove screens and wash the windows.  I want to make sure I have clear and unobstructed views when the snow starts to fall.  😦

Lynell

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Filed under Barn, Daily life, Granary, Outbuildings, Photography

Morning Light

We left town last Friday morning for a long weekend out at West Point to visit our two cadets and to attend the Homecoming football game. As we were heading out the door on our way to the airport, the sun was coming up and it was just one of those sunrises…the pink, orange and yellow kind.

Jesse encouraged me to snap a few pictures with my iPhone.  The barn against the sky was just too pretty to go undocumented. I did a quick edit in Instagram to lighten it up.

barnskyThe weekend went by in a flash and we are back at home again on the farm.  Our cadets are coming home this upcoming weekend for a visit over a long weekend for them.  It will be nice to have everyone at home, even if it is only briefly.

Lynell

Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

-Oliver Wendell Holmes



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Bat Removal and Relocation: Part I

We have a fairly healthy bat population in the hay loft of our barn. On summer evenings, we have stood near the barn and counted well over one hundred bats leave for their evening feed. In northern Minnesota a common bat type is the small brown bat. We have seen a few of our bats up close in the barn and they seem to be the size and description fitting the small brown bat.

Not everyone is comfortable with bats flying overhead at dusk or later sitting around the bonfire, but we have never had any problems. I think everyone is aware of how beneficial bats are for controlling mosquito and bug populations by eating as many as 5,000 bugs each night. Since our hobby farm is located along the Rum River, which has many stagnant backwater ponds, we would like to keep the bats around the farm doing their insect patrols.

While the barn has stood empty and mostly unused, we have slowly been making progress in removing calf pens and cow stanchions so that we can use the space for more garden and farm storage. The bats are mostly self-contained in the loft area of the barn, but from time to time a few of them end up in the lower area. In addition, the gaps in the floor boards of the hay loft allow bat guano to sprinkle down. So we decided that if we are going to continue to upgrade the barn, the bats needed to be relocated. Here you can see the thick layer of bat guano collecting on the hay loft floor.

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Here is the main entrance for the bats into the hayloft. You can see the heavy use around the hay-fork rail where they have worn off the paint from all the flights in and out.

entranceAlthough building a bat house is pretty straight forward and something we expected we would do ourselves based on plans in our “Country Wisdom & Know How” book from Storey Publishing, we also didn’t want to miss the opportunity to install the bat house before they began to return from migration. We found a design we liked from a bat conservatory organization in Michigan (www.batconservatory.org) that uses the proceeds from the bat houses to fund their projects. Here is a picture of the bat house we ordered that has the capacity for up to 300 bats. At the bottom there is a green landing mesh that is easy for the bats to land on when they are returning to their roost.box2In the next picture you can see the tight crawl spaces that the bats like for roosting. When they pack themselves into these tight spaces it helps to retain their body heat and keep each other warm in cold weather.insideOur Storey book article on bats recommended “seasoning” the new bat house with guano so that it has a familiar scent. The process was to collect some guano from the hay loft and mix it with some water to create a slurry that could be poured into the bat house. This seemed kind of gross to us, but if it helps to make the bats feel comfortable in their new home then, why not?
guana2Here is our new “well-seasoned” bat house, ready for installation.inside2Our research indicated that to have the best chance for relocation, the new bat house should be located as close as possible to the current bat entrance. Well, that would be high up in the peak of the barn. The extension ladder wasn’t quite long enough, so in typical farm fashion, I placed the ladder into the bucket of the tractor. This type of work isn’t for everyone. We did luck out and it was a glorious warm sunny date for February. Even warm enough to wear a short-sleeved shirt!DSC_0028In order to have hands free for climbing the ladder, we attached a rope to the bat house so that it could be lifted up once I was comfortably positioned at the top.DSC_0031Up comes the bat house to its new location.DSC_0033It was a little dicey to hold the bat house in place and manage the screws and screw gun all at the same time. Note to self: next time start the screws in pilot holes before climbing the ladder!DSC_0036Here goes nothing…..do not stand under the ladder in case I drop something!DSC_0039

The installation is now complete. It would be nice to have positioned the bat house a little higher, but when you are on the top of the ladder it apparently seems high enough.DSC_0043
The next question to answer is whether or not the bats are hibernating in the barn or if they have migrated to somewhere warmer for the winter. Since our barn has no heating or cows keeping it warm in the winter, and since there is no evidence of bat sounds on warm winter days, we believe that our bats have migrated for the winter and will return in early spring. Our research didn’t offer any definitive answers on hibernating versus migrating for small brown bats, so we will have to keep an eye out for them inside the barn. If there are bats that become trapped in the barn, then we will have to install a one-way entrance so that they can get out but cannot come back in.

Now, what are we going to do with all those other openings in the barn wall that the bats can come through? Guess we have to start plugging them all. Small brown bats can crawl through holes as small as 3/8 inch in diameter, so every hole needs to be plugged or covered.  A sunny day is perfect for finding all the openings. Where to begin?DSC_0051

We decided that it would be easiest, low-cost, and fairly unobtrusive visually to install wire mesh over the openings – especially since there were some very large openings! We had a large roll of wire screen mesh leftover from the screened porch when we built the house. I save everything!DSC_0054

Wire screen mesh can be cut easily with a sharp sheet rock knife along a straight edge. I cut strips that were 6-8 inches wide the length of the screen and then installed them over the openings using a staple hammer. I used a lot of staples to make sure that the bats couldn’t find any new ways into the barn.
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We will likely not have covered every possible entrance, but we hope that enough have been covered that the new bat house looks more attractive and they make that there new home.

DSC_0097We should know in a few weeks whether we have been successful!

Jesse

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Filed under Animals, Barn, Outbuildings

Township Cleanup Day

Every spring in Minnesota, townships have a spring cleanup day when residents can bring in various items to dispose of, including old appliances, electronics, mattresses, batteries, tires, scrap metal, etc.  The township charges a fee for some of the items, but allow disposal of a limited number of items free of charge.

In celebration of our township’s cleanup day this year, we decided to resume the barn project and tear out the cattle stanchions and miscellaneous piping to haul in for scrap metal disposal.

We have owned our farm for a decade now and we have never done anything with the inside of the barn, besides stash things that do not belong anywhere else.  Prior to us purchasing the place, many years had passed since any animals occupied the barn. Needless to say, it is a real disaster.

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Filed under Barn, Kids, Outbuildings

To renovate or tear down? That is the question.

This old round-top barn on the property was one of the primary features of the old farmstead that we fell in love with.  We had all kinds of fantasies about how we would use the barn:  for horses, a sports area in the hayloft for the kids, a workshop…

After purchasing the property, we had a barn straightener come out to evaluate the structure and give us some advice.  His conclusions were mixed.  The barn was still salvageable, but was in need of paint, a new roof, a new foundation, and straightening.  Because we were short on time (we were moving to Sweden for a two-year expatriate assignment) and money, we decided to have it painted and the windows replaced to preserve it for a later decision.

We returned to the farm from our expatriate assignment in the summer of 2003.  Our friendly old barn stood there waiting for us and for our decision on her fate.  Facing the reality of the money necessary to completely restore the barn was discouraging and seemed like a poor investment.  On the other hand, the barn is what gave our little farm its character.  Being two farm kids, it’s what drew us to this place from the beginning.  We discussed having it burned down at some point by the local fire department, but our soft spot for this structure just kept us putting off any final decision.

In the spring of last year, we experienced a nasty day with high winds gusting in from the south.  As I stood inside looking out the kitchen window, I could see shingles flying over the barn after peeling off the southern-facing roof.  With the yard littered with old asphalt shingles, I knew that a decision would soon be necessary about the fate of the barn.  The barn’s deterioration would now be quickened with the more seriously compromised roof.

After some inquiry to the insurance company, we realized that we would have some coverage for the damage caused by the wind storm to the roof.  We started gathering information and quotes on the costs of repairing the roof.  Although not the most visually appealing alternative, we concluded that the most economical approach would be to have a new steel roof put on the barn.

Prior to having the new roof installed, we hired the barn straightener to shore up the barn structurally.  The process took about two weeks.  He moved it gradually over the two weeks by bracing, pulling, and cranking it back to an upright position.  New lumber was installed inside to strengthen the structure further and hold it in its new “straight” position.

Finally sitting straight and tall, the barn was ready for its new roof.  The first step in installing the new steel roof was to put cribbing across the old roof to level everything out.  The cribbing is an efficient way to quickly cover the many sags in the roof.

The whole roof was eventually covered in the cribbing.

The roofers then began installing one sheet of metal roofing at a time.  Brave, brave men.

Rain or shine, they just kept working their way across the roof putting on the steel…

Until they finished the entire roof.  Our old barn now stands straight and tall with a new roof, waiting for us to find the time and money to take the next steps.  It might take many years to make any more progress, but at least our decision has finally been made.  We will keep the old round top barn that we fell in love with a decade ago.

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Filed under Barn, Outbuildings