November 2 , 2001
On a recent trip to one of the local state parks, I noticed that the state of Minnesota had purchased farmland adjacent to the park. There were two barns left standing, pretty much intact. It appeared though that the state was ready to demolish the two barns. I made a few phone calls, and found that they were, but I had time to bid on the barn board if I wanted it. Being a state operation, there were various forms to fill out and they needed proof of liability insurance.
I didn't think the proof of insurance was going to be a big deal until I called our local insurance agency. (Our local insurance agency loves to hear from me ever since I told them I was building a cordwood house.) I got a firm "No your policy won't cover this" answer from them and I was about ready to give up on the barn board idea.
On a last ditch effort, I decided to call my brother Bill who is in the insurance business and he said it might be worth my while to call the underwriter directly. Sure enough, the underwriter assured me that I was insured. Sometimes it pays to try and try again until you get a "yes" answer.
So with proof of insurance and a nominal bid I was on my way with sledge hammer, crow bar and ladder in hand.Taking down the barn board had its challenges considering the farmer who owned the barn was insistent on patching any holes in the wood with old coffee can tins. The barn appeared to be an old horse stable since there were calculations scribbled on some of the boards describing an order for oats and barley. From every indication the barn was built sometime around 1911 since the other barn had the date with the initials of "WS" scribed in concrete. The post and beam frame of the barn was all held together with mortise and tennon joints along with treenails
As I stood in the barn I wondered what it must have been like to live back in the era that the barn was first built. It's really sad that this barn will no longer be standing soon, but at least some of its history will live on in our house. My plans are to use the board to build interior doors and possible side an interior wall or two.
The state park officer stopped by to see what I was doing and we had a brief conversation. I asked him what the intentions were for the barns. He said that the plan was to bulldoze down both barns, burn the barns (except the asphalt shingles) and then burry the ashes. Sad indeed.
A special thanks to both my brothers, who made this all possible; my brother Jim for planning a visit with his family over the Columbus Day weekend (If he hadn't come up, I never would have known about the barn.) and my brother Bill for encouraging me to contact the insurance underwriter. Thanks!
to the Wood Pile
After spending a couple of days gathering barn board, it was back to the log pile. I never did count how many logs there were, but I swear every time I count them, they multiply. I've got about another 40 logs to cut and split and if the weather holds out, I might be done in another week or so. The weather over the last few days has been spectacular. The first day of November brought temperatures in the low 70's, which is pretty darn warm for up here so late. Hopefully it will last into next week.
of the Bald Eagles
On my trips to the state park gathering barn board, I decided to take the back roads there instead of the interstate and twice I noticed a bald eagle perched in the trees overlooking Pine Creek. So on Wednesday I decided to take my camera and scope with me just in case. As I left our front driveway, I spotted a bald eagle perched in a tree next to the Root River. Wow, right in our backyard!
I stopped the truck, took out the scope and camera. As soon as I turned on the camera, the eagle flew away. Filled with disappointment and silently cussing, I got back in the truck and drove towards the park. Just where I had seen an eagle days before, there he/she was. Perched in a tree next to Pine Creek. The lighting from the sun was just right and this time I was successful. I snapped about 20 photographs before I got board and left. Here's one of the photos: