Wednesday, September 29, 2010

what a difference a day makes...

Yesterday, I started to take down 'my' barn.

And I lived to tell about it.

Here is a little background for those of you that are just joining in. This is a long post, so get comfortable.

I did a post about a month ago, telling you about this crazy idea that came over me. My sister lives on a farm in rural...very rural...Iowa. Every once in a while when I am crusing through the middle-of-nowhere on my way to see her, I feel the need to stop and ask if I can peek through a barn or two at a farm that strikes my fancy. Usually I come out with a few pieces of industrial goodness to use in my home or sell. But this time, one of those farmers called my bluff and offered me the whole barn!

Crazy, you might say...that I would want such a thing, much less participate in the tearing down of it. I cannot deny it, you would be right. Crazy it is, and crazy I am. But my husband and I love to build furniture, that is actually where my little business began way back in the day, and I am a little sad sometimes that is has been overshadowed by the painting of furniture instead. So, its back to our roots for a little while. We have a few tricks up our sleeves as to what we are going to use the barnwood for, and I can't wait to get started!

Ok, anyway...back to the barn.

 Here is where I started yesterday...

By the middle of the day, it looked like this.

I know there are quite a few of you out there that are like me. You find beauty in these sort of things, as crazy as it may be. You should have seen the look on the farmer's face when I told him some the boards from the inside were going to be made into a dining table for my patio.

It was priceless. He just shook his head and walked away.

But serioulsly, that is some gorgeous wood! Perfect vintage patina if you ask me!

I am going back next week...and this gate is going home with me for sure! Isn't is just awesome?? I am going to have to cut it in sections because it is so long.

~ sigh ~

I heart chippy white paint.

Oh, and the boards with a little white paint?? It will soon be a cabinet for my office with lots of little drawers.

I have been dreaming about this roof since I first saw it. I have a serious addiction to galvanized metal...and I would LOVE to use this on the walls in my garage. The color is fantastic, perfectly aged and weathered. Now...I just have to convince my sweet husband when we go back to salvage more wood to spend his day 2 stories up in the sky, taking it down for me.

I have a feeling some deals are going to have to be made for this one.

Of course I could never have done all this work by myself. I had sisters, brothers-in-law and even a few unexpected helpers yesterday. I have a great benefit plan for those that help me., and we do allow time out of your day to play with Thomas the Tank every few minutes when the real work gets to be too much.

He did a fair amount of supervising, as any 3 year old nephew should, but most of the time he was too busy looking cute. He did try to show me the ropes of farm living, thinking maybe I had forgotten since I had gone "urban" in my new life.

(Oh, and don't tell his mom about the giant pieces of gum I was giving him. Our little secret, ok?)

And for those of you that are worried...the kiddo didn't stick around once we started working. He was there to see the project get underway then it was home for a snack and a nap. Hmmm..sounds like a couple of other suervisors I have had in my lifetime.

A couple of the site supervisors were of the 4-legged variety. It was so funny how they felt the need to "inspect" everything we did! At the beginning of the day they just could not understand what we were doing...but by the end of the day they were stuck to me like glue.

The cows were fascinated by all the action. I was watching them from the top of the barn, and one by one they would come over to the water tank to take a drink...or shall I say...pretend to take a drink...but would really be watching us out of the corner of their eye.

This big guy did not seem amused by any of it.

Then there were the chickens. What is it about chickens, anyway?? They look suspicious of everything that goes on around them. This one watched me with an Eagle eye like I was stealing from him home. Unlike the horses, he could not get me out of there fast enough!

I ended up taking a couple dozen eggs from his house, so I guess I did steal from him a little.

My little burro buddy made the whole day worth it. He was my side-kick all day. He would watch me as I tore boards off...and follow me as I carried them over to the "nail removing station". Isn't he just the cutest little thing?? My nephew named him Burrito. Love it.

But then there were those that insisted on pitching in...even though I would never ask. My beautiful 74-year old Mom even got in on the action. We would take the boards down, and she (and my Dad, too) would take the nails out. Can you believe that?? What a woman! Raised 8 children, took care of our little farmette, spoils 20 grandchildren and still has the time and energy to knock rusty old nails out of barn boards. I would say you no longer need to wonder where I get my "sure, I can take your barn down" attitude.

~ smile ~

I just love her.

This is about a third of the nails her and my Dad had removed by the end of our day. I saved them...I felt it was right to give them a home in a beautiful antique jar in my office. There was just too much history there to throw away. First, the years they held up this beautiful structure, then all the sweat that went into taking them back out.

Go ahead. Call me crazy again. I totally deserve it.

By late afternoon I decided to try to get the doors and shutters off the top of the barn, so I scaled this tiny little thing they called a "ladder" (have I mentioned I hate heights) and was so taken in by the scenery. I was tough, I scaled back down that little, old ladder to retrieve my camera.

I wish you could have been there. It was about 67 degrees, and the air smelled so good. I just sat there with my legs dangling out the hole where a hay door once was taking in what was before me. The sun was setting and everything had a golden cast to it.

It was truly a beautiful sight.

The timing could not have been better if I planned it. I didn't see a single car (or tractor) all day...and right as I was taking a few photos, this one came rolling down the road. I guess it was just meant to be!

And I can't forget my all-time favorite find in the barn so far. By the door there were some boards with numbers written on them. I asked the farmer what they were from, and he said he remembers when he was a little kid,  his Dad figuring out the price of corn on those boards. How cool is that??

So there you have it. One girl decided to take on a project that seemed waaaay over her head, and she conquered. We were all tired and dirty by the end of the day, and we LOVED every minute of it.

Memories like this are rare and I will keep them forever.

Oh, and did I mention I stepped on a rusty nail?

Yep. Straight through my shoe and over an inch into my foot. I better wrap up this post, because I have a doctor appointment in a few minutes and I have a feeling this one is going to hurt. If you don't hear from me for a couple of days that is because I am still crying like a baby over it.

Just a day in the life of a girl that lives in the city and misses her farm roots.

Happy Wednesday, girls!


  1. did an amazing job for one days work! Good thing you had all that help.

    Cant wait to see what you do with all that white chippy wood!

  2. This is just awe - some! I mean there are no words to describe this undertaking. I just am loving it and cannot wait to see what you do with all of it. Just WOW!

  3. oh Mary!! I'm just as excited as you!!! Our neighbor has let us slowly tear down her corn crib - it's beautiful just like yours!

    it is a lot of work - and I'm so glad that you were able to get help...see you in a few weeks :)
    p.s. that donkey is the cutest!

  4. Love this post! Beautiful pictures! The worrier in me was reading this, wondering about your nephew and the animals around all those nails! Ouch! I hope you feel better soon.

  5. I totally understand the whole thing...even the part about keeping the nails!!! It seems you had a wonderful day....except for the part where you stepped on a nail. bet you got a tetnus shot????!!!

  6. Beautiful post!

    I'm a barn girl myself. Love 'em. Would love to have had this one in tact to turn into a fabulous studio space, but I can't wait to see what you create with it.

  7. Wow!! You got a lot done!! I hope your foot is feeling better soon - you may have to get a tetanus shot.

    Can't wait to see what you do with all that wood!

  8. Oh JOY!! If I lived closer I would've been there to help you in a heart beat! We have removed a barn and century old brick from a local farm just this summer,I know what you mean by sweat!! I also "get" that there's nothing you'd rather be doing!! We are currently uncovering the original ceiling in our shop and while most women are home cooking dinner,I'd rather be tearing down ceiling tiles :S are we not normal???lol
    thanks for sharing!!

  9. If you are crazy, then I am too~!
    Because I would do exactly the same thing you're doing. I know this is a ton of work, but you will never for one minute regret it.

    Exciting pics, Mary!!!

  10. if you have a minute ... peek over to SCF ... you're center stage

    I'll most likely see you at Kane ...

    I've always got my gloves in my hip pocket ... if you need help

  11. This sounds like a wonderful day, so much excitement and i love all of those animals watching you, too sweet!!! can't wait to see all the furniture you are going to make with all this beautiful wood!

  12. I smiled the whole way through this post - thank you for sharing! :)

  13. Thanks for taking us along...this is good stuff, love the pictures.
    Do what it takes to get some of that ceiling, its awesome.

  14. I am going to be going exactly what you just did next spring. I will be making the drive to Iowa and taking down my grandparents barn, chicken coop and silo. I cannot wait to get all of the wood! And the metal!

    Those pictures remind me so much of home......Thank you

  15. Wow Mary,
    What an absolutely beautiful day! It just doesn't get any better than that! I can almost smell the fresh farm air from here. Wow!! I'm in awe of the opportunity.

    How about using some of that wood as flooring?????? It would be so perfect!!

    And, your mom is fabulous and entire family....


  16. OH my goodness Mary you are amazing!! I can't believe all the work you all did and look at all that beautiful wood and metal! It looks like you had a great time and I so glad that you saved the nails, I am so sentimental and I think that that is a great way to pay tribute to the farmer!

    Hope your foot wasn't too bad and I can't wait to see more!!

  17. I am so jealous that you have this barn! I make wooden signs out of old wood and could use that wood too! Right now I use pallet wood from free pallets I find on Craigslist.

    Can't wait to see what you do. Your such and inspiration. I love the pics too.

  18. Wow! That is so cool! My mom always said you can do anything with the right tools. I can't wait to see the furniture you make from it.

  19. Wow Mary... BEAUTIFUL pictures! Those horses are just gorgeous! How sweet that they hung out with you guys all day. :) I can't wait to see the projects you metioned when they're done... you will show pictures, right??? ;o)
    Happy Wednesday!
    Hugs ~ Jo

  20. i love this post mary. beautiful surroundings and the animals. my heart goes pitter patter. and that old gate. i can envision photo session around that. perfect. glad it went well for you. you got lots done.

  21. This is one of my favorite posts of all time! You are not crazy Mary....and just think of the amazing family memories you all made :) I cant even tell you how jealous I am! I cannot wait to see all of the wonderful things you are going to create with these lovely pieces of history :)

  22. I love this post- you made my day!



  23. Love it, especially burrito... I may email his photo to the hubs and tell him I want a burro!
    Hope your foot heels fast... you will need to be getting around to making all that furniture soon!

  24. Now that's some can-do attitude. Well done! I hope you asked the farmer how old the barn was and who built it etc. I love knowing details like that. I hope your foot is feeling better.

  25. What an incredible project! I can't wait to see the projects you make with that wood. I'm jealous already.

  26. I stepped on a rusty rake (yep, it came up and hit me in head too) when I was a kid. I lived to tell about it thankfully. Hope your Drs appointment goes well! I know the feeling!

  27. Amazing! I love the fact that it's being salvaged. I believe in re purposing all things. You're doing a great job and I'm sure the floor and the rest of your home and garage will be stunning with the wood used from the barn. I'm in envy of the gate as well. If it were me I'd be in a bubble bath sipping some champagne after a day like that.

  28. first off your pictures are gorgeous! i don't think you are crazy one bit! i could totally imagine myself doing the very same thing, i love old barns. i actually dream of buying one someday or moving where i can have one on my are awesome!! hope your foot is ok :) hugs, susan

  29. WOW!!!
    I don't believe you could have asked for a better day ( except for the nail in the foot) ...
    the beautiful barn wood,
    the love from the critters
    the great weather and family all around
    ...amazing day!
    Take care fo that foot!
    Tammy :-)

  30. Can I just say...I love ya...I love that you listen to your heart and just go for amaze me my friend. Hope all goes well at the doc's office.

  31. I'm green with envy at all the goodies you worked so hard to get. The photos are just amazing!

    I'm sorry you stepped on the nail. I can see a tetnus shot in your immediate future.

    Thanks so much for taking us along while you salvaged this lovely barn!

  32. Wow how cool! Can't wait to see what you build out of the barnwood. Although a lil sad the barn had to come down. I LOVE barns and am determined to have one someday. I live in Iowa - where is your sister?

  33. I had no idea until the LAST picture of this post just how big the barn is!

  34. ~**~LOVE the chippy white barnwood too!! You are such a lucky gal~*~* Hugs, Rachel ;)~*

  35. oh my!! i'm in love with it!! i was telling my husband about it and he just shook his got the head shake!! ;0)

  36. Hi Mary....!

    SORRY to hear about the nail Lovey....I've stepped on TWO myself over the years & can attest the WORST of it is the bloody tetanus shot you get as a result of bein' so danged CLUMSY....Fingers crossed for a SPEEDY recovery....!!

    I'm ENVIOUS of your barn wood & can't wait to see the galvanised tin in your garage....!!

    Cheers from Oz,
    Tamarah :o)

  37. Oh I am so jealous!! That wood and all it's chippiness! Wow! Just too cool! What a visual treat this all is.
    Sorry about the nail in your foot though. Sounds like a tetanus shot for sure!!
    Oh worth it!

  38. Ahhh, sounds glorious! Sorry about your foot - ouch!

  39. First, I am SO sorry you stepped on a nail! What a "blip" to have in the middle of such a perfect day. Second? I am SO envious of every experience... and piece of wood.. you had in that day! I can almost close my eyes and smell the air, the farm... all of it. What a glorious post!! Thanks for sharing!!

  40. What an experience!! (except for the nail in your foot) I love that the animals were so interested in what you were doing too. I can't wait to see what you make with that spectacular wood!

  41. By now you have probably had a tetanus shot...Ouch! Bravo to you for taking all that wonderful wood. I can't wait to see your projects! I have a very deep love of old barns. I'm so glad you salvaged the wood to make something wonderful. Hope your foot feels better soon. I hopped over from Savvy City Farmer.

  42. What an awesome deal! I can't believe you were offered the whole barn!!!!!!!!!! eeeeeek! I'm so excited for you!!!!

  43. Oh I love that old barn. I had old tin on the walls of my antique shop. Hard to nail into but I love d the rusty look. I love rust and old. Tetanus ha I laugh in your face!
    We have had our share of tearing down around here. I always save something. I love the boards with the writing and that you are keeping the nails.
    It makes me smile every time I go into our little barn where the girls had their bucket calves. They wrote the names they gave them on the boards. Lots of WWF names like Stone Cold etc. Some day that will be ages ago and people will hopefully treasure it.
    I can't wait to see your projects!

  44. That barn reminds me of a corn crib we used to have on a property we owned in Illinois. You have a huge job ahead of you, even yet!

  45. I totally, completely admire your drive! :) So neat they all hopped in to give you some teamwork (now I'm craving pizza) - your nephew is a cutie.. same age as my daughter. I may be at Kane on Sater.. gotta hankering to treasure hunt.
    :) Lara

  46. Wow, You took on a big project! I can't wait to see what you make with all this wonderful wood.
    xo, Sherry

  47. WOW! That is the exact, perfect word.
    That little donkey is the cutest thing ever. I think I need one of those.

  48. Mary, I love
    me a long post
    while I sip my
    tea and you did
    not disappoint,
    my friend! Feel
    like I've spent
    the day with you
    in the country.
    You are so lucky
    that your hubby
    "gets" what you
    see in the barn....
    I sure do! Love
    it all and your
    nephew and the animals
    were so so precious.
    I do hope that you
    are okay and am betting
    there was a Tetanus
    shot in your story,
    xx Suzanne

  49. what a gorgeous day and your pictures are so cute of your nephew and love seeing the barn and animals...I am laughing so hard that he seems so surprised you are going to use it...but it will look great and can't wait to see how it all turns out into a table and cabinets for you

  50. Your awesome "Mary" to find the beauty in all that you do!

  51. Great minds, Mar - Totally thinking you should put those nails in something to admire them - I loved this post it made me think about my Grandpa's old red barn where I would walk down and escape silly elementary stresses and get out of mowing the lawn... you know how kids are :) I LOVED it! I had a bunch of my senior pics taken by there. Great memories and lots of fabulous finds! Even still I'm sure I could go find something super special there.... next trip back home, maybe :)

  52. Okay, that is just about the coolest barn story ever. Ever. How stinking fun! Can't wait to see what you do with all of it. And I have to say, I absolutely love the fact that you're keeping the nails in a jar. I never, ever would have thought to do that and I just love that little nod to all the effort put into both the building up and taking down of that beautiful barn, past and present.

  53. What fun! Seriously - the projects you could do with that fabulous wood! I can't wait to see what you build my friend~

  54. All I can say is Hot Damn, OMG, you hit the mother load,( per American Pickers words), Favulous, lucky you.

    Love it just love it I can see every thing made you were talking about. what a great table you will have .


  55. I can't believe the owner of this lovely barn didn't want it anymore. I am happy for you to come across such a treasure but I wish it didn't have to be torn down. Better than becoming ash though. It is truly beautiful. Hope you're not in too much pain...and get a tetanus shot!

  56. LOVED this post! Talk about hitting the jackpot. I'm soooo excited for you girlie:)

  57. I'm so getting the Witness vibe!!! I'm hearing John Williams music in the background as I scroll down. What a beautiful barn that is.


  58. Not John williams ... I meant Maurice Jarre!!! It's that Harrison Ford-John williams connection that had me confused!

  59. So I have just found you, and this is the second post ever that I have read. You made me tear up like a little baby. As a girl who grew up smalltown and tried the city life and is very much back in her small town, I know exactly how you feel. Beautiful photos, beautiful moments you have captured. I look forward to reading much more, and being all the more inspired.