Wednesday, June 26, 2013

100 year old barn and cistern repairs

Our 100 year old barn has long been in need of repair.  The eaves troughs were falling off, the soffit and facia were rusted right through in some places, hanging crooked in most places and the roof leaked like the proverbial aluminum sieve.  This summer is all about barn repair!

The barn has a great history to go with it.  There was another barn in it's place when the house was originally built - a large "L- shaped" wooden barn.  Sometime around the turn of the century they were using a steam powered thresher and the barn full of hay caught fire.  It burned to the ground leaving only the foundation.  The metal barn was built in it's place - I guess the fear of fire had it's impact - no more wooden barn!  It doesn't look too bad from the front since the two sides that show the most were painted at some point in the past 10 years.  The other two sides look pretty that I've tackled painting the garage and the potting shed maybe someday I'll get to the barn too.

So back to repairs.  There was no way sane and "normal" people would climb around on the roof 50 feet in the air!  We hired some Mennonite men because they said they would!.  They were a pleasure to have around and we are really pleased with the work they did.  They fixed things that they noticed were wrong that we didn't even know about.  The sliding doors for instance have never hung straight or slid properly - we just assumed that that's the way it was going to be - they fixed them and they now close perfectly.  They also cleaned many years worth of raccoon poop out of the area where the soffit and fascia meet - gross.

Leonard on the roof - 50 feet from the ground!

The fact that they are Mennonite-of-the-type-that-doesn't-drive-cars meant we had to pick them up and drop them off after work.  It was an hour drive one way so it added up but we took turns driving and somehow it worked out.  The ride was usually pretty quiet on the way home as the men took the time to sleep in between their days work and the farm chores yet to come.

While they were working on the barn they nearly fell into an old cistern.  A cistern is a large holding tank that collects water off the roof of a building so it can be stored and used - like a rain barrel but much better. I had heard that there was one around that area so I was excited - after I made sure everyone was OK of course!   I asked a neighbour who is a member of the original family if he knew about the cistern and he said it had never been used in his memory.  I am about to change that!  

I crawled in to have a look around.  It was obviously dark and damp but it looked in reasonable repair except for a few large cracks.  I checked with a waterproofing friend of ours and he told me what I needed to do in order to get it ready for use.  With an electric pump we can pump the water right into the barn into a large-water-cube-in-a-cage-thing and not need to use the house well for the animals - a real boon in times of drought.  In the winter time: no more lugging buckets from the house cistern when the pipes in the barn freeze!  It will only mean a small change in our original plans for how to direct the water with the eaves troughs.  I'll write a detailed post on how we do it when we get it finished.

I'm looking forward to completing the whole project and having a dry barn.  We have lots of work to do inside but knowing that the everything will stay dry in a down pour will make the rest of the work required make more sense.

Don't ya think the sliding doors need to be painted RED??  me too...


  1. Yes the barn door need to be red to match the garage and potting shed,nice job Anita . We come to have a close look on Sunday .

  2. Definately red!!!

  3. very brilliantly done so far and I hope u have done applied some good protection against the roof leaks because roof leaks is a very serious problem, I had this problem once but it was taken care through professionals EPDM Rubber Roofing


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