barn stories

You people on Facebook have seen the nice dairy barn photo, which seems awfully cool! The barn is cool, but is sadly way beyond restoration. To take that photo, I leaned a ladder against the front exterior wall of the barn, and it did not feel safe. N. and I were looking around inside on a windy day, and there were far too many noises suggesting it was about to collapse. Here’s a view that captures the disarray:
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You can see that the roof arches on this south side have fallen over the cement wall and are on the ground. This seems to have been precipitated by roof damage and water leakage that sped up the deterioration of one of the massive support beams, which is now broken, a part of it resting on the floor of the barn. It is actually shocking how intact the interior still is, including the hay loft on the second floor (I took a photo in color yesterday in addition to the B&W posted on fb). Again, I did not enter this part of the barn, I stayed on a ladder outside, because it does not seem remotely safe.

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N. and I have spent a short amount of time in the first floor of the barn because the well head and pressure tank of our farm well is located in the front corner of the barn. We have been trying to get a very good sense of all the infrastructure here, especially concerning farm irrigation. Early this week we also turned the farm water back on to see what our flow rate will be:

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There is some worry that the barn could collapse and destroy our pressure tank (or at least render it inaccessible for a while), so we may move it to another protected, less threatened area.

Checking out the wells and other infrastructure was part of our first field walk, on Wendesday! It was so fun. We found animal records from the dairy farm and learned that it was an active dairy up until 1995, at least. We also investigated what tools and equipment the previous farmer left behind, and are super grateful! We already have an electric fence, multiple useful tools, and gates/fencing supplies from her.

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The final part of our field walk covered the tillable fields – almost 3.5 acres (above, with me). The rest of our farm, and the house, is visible beyond the field (actually the house is totally obscured by trees here). As you can see, the upper portion is quite sloped, so for a while (or forever) it will be dedicated to straw production, perennial food crops like berries and rhubarb, and/or potentially crops like quinoa or oats, that we’d love to experiment with. More on our planned growing methods later! Thanks for reading.

-ppppp

first days

We’re here! N. and I drove to central PA this past Saturday after receiving a ton of moving help from my dad and well-wishing (and travel snacks) from K. and J. On Sunday we completed the trip from Lamar, PA to Menomonie, WI, arriving at 1:30 Monday morning. The weather was mercifully mild, and we unpacked and returned our truck by Monday afternoon.
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And now work! Our name is Hexagon Projects and Farm, and we will be working on building a business here in Menomonie, which is in western Wisconsin, close to the border with Minnesota and located along the Red Cedar River, which flows south to join the Chippewa before emptying into the Mississippi. South of the center of Menomonie and near Downsville are Hexagon’s 9 acres, forming an irregular hexagon, and including a house, garage, 2 pole barns, and a large and beautiful but crumbling dairy barn. About 3.5 acres are sloping tillable field, and here we anticipate a combination of vegetables, berries, beans, and grazing. 2 acres have been nicely grazed by sheep over the past few years, and we plan on continuing this, as well as establishing an orchard. Anything related to animals will require much research and I’m sure will result in constant mistakes!

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The remaining land is covered by buildings or is wooded, and we’ve worked in these first few days to learn these wild areas and also to figure out where the wells are, how many trees are dangerously close to buildings, and what we’ll need to do to keep certain things from deteriorating. This sounds like a downer, but it’s amazing work! As we do as much as possible before it is extremely snowy and/or cold, I’ll give all the updates. Thanks for reading!!

-pppppp

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