It’s a bit of our own Barnwood Builders story.
While preserving history and creating heirlooms with fabric and thread is my part- I thought it would be fun to show you another faucet of our family’s story that’s being preserved in a totally different way. There might be something fun coming about that combines these two ways, but for now I want to share the process and journey behind our family’s Barn Restoration!
I will tell you up front- I have very little to do in actually *working* on the farm! Don’t get me wrong I love it. I love watching the process and I will put in a little elbow grease from time to time but my husband is the one who has worked tirelessly on this property. I much prefer just playing with the cows. 🙂 I am so grateful to have a partner that lets me enjoy the farm and understands how inspiring the place is for me.
This all started when Dillon and I were in college and began to work on the farm. We began to see the beauty in it and at the time Dillon decided it would be a good business move to get some cows of his own. I still remember the exact time we began working on the property together- pulling a fence row before a wedding one Saturday. This land has been in his family now for seven generations and he and I felt the desire to preserve the hard work and history that generations before him had created and left for future generations to enjoy.
We began small-redoing a tiny one room house on the property to convert it into what we loving refer to now as “The Calf House.” This is the “barn” where we brought our first “babies” home to- our baby calves. Here we bottle fed 35 calves in two years including the unofficial, official mascot of the farm, Jersey Baby, as well.
In the past four years or so, we have picked up countless sticks and burned dozens of brush piles. It was on the farm that I came up with the first question I have for God when I get to heaven- why did he create those gosh darn LOCUST trees?? My first experience driving a tractor was pulling up those trees and let me tell you, that is not one of my favorite memories! Dillon has cut down trees, opened up fence lines, re-fenced old fence lines, bush hogged, put up hay and transformed the land. It was a beautiful hidden gem before, but now this land is breathtaking.
The barn restoration started about a year ago as they began to see it had some major wear and tear that needed big time TLC. We all debated long and hard what to do about the barn. It is a huge barn that houses the hay and equipment but this project was already shaping up to be a big can of worms. There was no way you could fix one thing, without having to fix the other. Being that the barn was used until the 1970’s as a tobacco barn, it has weathered many a storm and season. One side of the barn was sagging, most of the major posts were rotting….. from the outside the barn was old and yet beautiful. Even with all its issues, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to tear it down. We discussed many different ways to save the barn, redo it, take part of it off…whatever we could to try and preserve the history that was in that hollowed place and we didn’t see any way around it. If we wanted to keep this piece of the farm for our children and grandchildren to use one day, it had to be saved- and salvaged.
This meant sticking with the original wood of the barn and literally redoing it from the inside without effecting the outside. The plan began to take shape with tearing off all the outside wood to replace the inside rotten posts and beams so it could stand for a 100 more years. It’s a good thing Dillon is an engineer because it took some major engineering (and guts!) to jack up a barn off its original footers, pour new footers and replace those posts all while making sure the barn itself doesn’t fall apart!
Every piece of wood tore off that barn was saved. Each rusted nail was pulled out and as the brand new inside supports were put in place, the old original barn wood was nailed back right where it came from. Dillon has a bit of a creative streak and could see each board had weathered just a little differently and saw the opportunity to expand on that beautiful uniqueness. He made sure to rotate each board as they were put back on the barn so that every piece showed just a little different weathering than the last, creating a beautiful patina pattern.
As this project is nearing almost completion, we are amazed at the history and family stories we have come across. We have found more and more out about the land and stories of those who worked and lived in this very spot. It’s surreal to stand in a place, look around at all the beauty and know that generations before us did the exact same thing.
It might just be a plot of dirt but it’s the dirt that holds our family’s sweat, tears and dreams. It’s the same dirt that those generations before us looked at and loved because it served them.
They needed this land to live and it’s the same land that we now *get* to live on.
The enormity of that blessing is not lost on us.
Barn wood isn’t just a trend for us, it is literally a keeper of our family’s history.
A keeper of the years, times and tests this family’s lives stood and prevailed against.
I truly believe it’s by no mistake that God gave both Dillon and I a heart for preserving history.
A desire to cherish and keep true to the things that brought us here.
The skills he gave us in working with our hands to create tangible reminders of his faithfulness throughout the years is gift we don’t take for granted.
Dillon’s talent might be on the farm and mine might be in front of the sewing machine but preserving our heritage and creating a legacy for our family is the common thread…no pun intended.