One of the spring projects this year is to restore and rebuild the old coop. It is an incredibly picturesque little building, that was carefully crafted long ago. It is the only building on the farm that features the quintessential rounded barn roof. It is like a little mini barn. It has not had any maintenance or roofing done to it in over 50 years, so it is pretty tattered and weather worn. Sometimes people love that old rustic farm weathered look… but there is usually a point where it inhibits the functionality of the structure, and we would love this one to last for years to come. There are quite a few buildings on the farm that seem as though they were constructed for very short people. Chuck is 6’4″ and I am 5’9… not short in the least. At present you can not even stand upright in the old coop, which if you have ever cleaned a coop, or shoveled soiled bedding, you know that ergonomically this is a huge problem. We were sick of nearly breaking our backs for chickens.
There was a debate this year if it would be repaired or torn down for safety. We were not really sure if our idea of how to fix it was even plausible. For awhile we wondered if we could move it, slides skids under it and slide it down the hill (oh doesn’t that sound fun!), but then we built an eight foot deer fence all around it, and it was locked into place. We wondered if we could jack it up, put it on new stud walls and give it a better foundation… but honestly lighting a match to it sounded so much easier and less of a headache. Sometimes we are in resistance to things that are overwhelming or outside of our comfort zone.
There was a little bit of debate about whether or not it was salvageable. Often we sit and stew about structures here on the farm. There are seven outbuildings and five of them are in desperate need of repair. We have thrown what we would call “bandaids” on many of them over the last five years. Often in a years time there is just not enough in the budget or resources in the precious months of good weather to correctly address all the problems. So we pick and choose and do our best to DO IT OURSELVES whenever possible.
“The Old Farm Special” is a phrase that gets thrown around with my farm friends whenever we are talking about buildings that show the effects of years of simple bandaids without ever really correcting the main structural issues. The old farm special is what gives so many old farmsteads their personality… and sometimes that is why you see many of them crumbling to the ground. Too many years of un-repair and no maintenance.
As a side tangent… THIS is one of the many reasons that supporting small farms is so important. Often there are incredibly large infrastructure costs associated with operating an efficient and functional farm. Many families who are just getting started in agriculture do not have the funds to fix the problems in infrastructure their farms are facing. Often the types of farms that young families can afford to purchase are old farms that have been out of operation and are in poor repair (like ours was), or they are buying raw land to start from scratch. Like so many other farms we have been working to offer goods and services to people to start generating a cash flow to fix the farm. It is an incredible undertaking and absolutely dependent on people in our community purchasing goods from the farm. (End tangent)
This project was basically initiated by my farm ADHD. I walked up to it one day annoyed and started digging out the foundation, and just never really stopped. My dad caught the bug with me and we have been working on it steadily for the last three weeks. It’s kind of funny but that’s how a lot of things get set into motion around here, at first we often don’t know where to start, what we are doing or what it will take to accomplish a task. Sometimes we spend long hours researching and trying to gather a game plan… and sometimes we just pick up a shovel and start digging so to speak. Sometimes the best way to complete a project around here is simply to start it.