• The Round Stone Barn

    •      The more times I stacked baled hay and straw in area neighbor's barns in the late 1960's and 1970's, the more I appreciated the uniqueness of every barn I worked in.  All were so different, but served a similar function.  We had a neighbor that had a round barn, and it was the absolute worst one to stack square bales in.  It also was always the hottest, as one's head was always closer to the roof than in a standard hip-roof or even a salt box style roof.  However, round barns and a 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and even 16 sided barns became my favorites.
           My family teased me relentlessly while “chasing barns” on vacations or even shorter trips.  The common rule was that we had to stop at a souvenir store or shopping mall for every barn we stopped to see and photograph.  I usually obliged. Reluctantly.

           Barns have been disappearing from the landscape on a regular basis ever since they were built.  Windstorms, fire, heavy use and neglect all take a toll, and as small farms became large farms and livestock more compartmentalized and concentrated, the common barn became an obsolete building that often was not worthy of pricy repairs.
           I helped one of my brothers tear down an 1860s barn and rebuild it to about 2/3rds its original size on his place.  It was a spiritual experience to pound oak pegs from  Douglas fir mortise and tenon joints that had not been touched since being joined together. Today one does not see 2 ft. wide single piece boards, either.  We also saved the stones from the double wall lime rock foundation. We didn't know what we were going to do with them at the time, but they were too good to bury.  I had also saved a lot of used lumber from a 1923 hog house that was going to be burned.

  •      Necessity being the mother of invention and pencil doodling one evening while reading a barn book, I figured out I just as well build my own round stone barn to compliment the B&B.  Our B&B did not have an area where guests could gather inside to socialize,  so this project would fit right in with this passion I have and serve a valuable purpose.
         A single ring of a wire ear corn crib would be just the item to keep it plumb and perfectly round.  Purchase a little cement, mortar mix, and cedar shingles and I hoped the finished barn would appear to be original to the farm.  We poured the foundation and floor on Father's Day 2002 and by Halloween night, after working relentlessly all summer, the roof was complete with a 5 sided cupola.  Interior finishing would wait for springtime.
         The area of a circle is greater than that of a rectangle or square with equivalent exterior length walls.  Absence of corners allows no evil spirits to reside and no place to “corner” the pursued.  Triangle-shaped cows, arranged around an interior silo, suffered no inferiority complex waiting at the end of a line to be milked.  Gentlemen farmers with a desire to try something different took special pride in their barns of Nature's strongest shape.
         Since completion, it has served as a rehearsal hall for church choir, a cello performer, dining center for family reunions and wedding parties, baby showers, a meeting place, as well as the most unusual breakfast area one could ever encounter.  It is filling up with antiques and farm curiosities. The giant center table is made of barn haymow floor joists supported by mortise and tenon joints.  One has to be true to the standard!