History’s Mysteries LLC is a researching firm setting out to uncover answers to your inquiries about history in Northeast Iowa, central to the Waterloo area in Black Hawk County. Our expertise lies in the research of real estate in Iowa and cemeteries in the Midwest as well as other areas of genealogical and ephemera research.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Iowa Barns of Yesteryear



            Barns - they used to line the landscape with their beauty and serenity. Now, the barns are disappearing and being replaced by pole sheds or farm fields. How can we save them?
Should we save them? While they are beautiful to look at, how desirable are they? Each and every one of us has an opinion.
            The technology and farming practices are eliminating the need for barns. The farmers no longer have the livestock that they once did with the transition to confinements. They don't bale hay and can store any silage outdoors where space can be utilized on a seasonal basis and taxes aren't spent on a large building. Machinery can be stored conveniently in a pole shed with a high roof, sturdy timbers and electricity. These modern replacements are fairly uniform with their shiny steel and concrete floors. The Amish help preserve the lives of barns. They can often utilize a barn as they generally maintain a small herd of livestock and to some extent, their old ways of farming. But even more and more Amish rent their farms and are going into commercial ventures.
            The barns of yesteryear are slowly deteriorating and farmers must decide if the structure is worth maintaining and if they can benefit from its existence. As the owner of a barn, I want to utilize it to its fullest potential, but how do I do that? I welcome feedback from barn owners out there, or others that have an interest in the subject. What can barns be used for these days to see that they don't sit dormant and collapse upon their foundation? Some barns have been converted into homes, which takes a lot of work and money. Others are used for storage, but the layout may not accommodate the desired need. The Iowa Barn Foundation (http://www.iowabarnfoundation.org) is one organization working to preserve the barns. Their tours help to inform people of the history and designs of Iowa barns.
            The beautiful barns display weathered wood to show their age, some with a wind vane or lightning rod at the top. They are massive and diverse. With each passing barn, the standing becomes even rarer. We all can do our part to help preserve the remaining barns and inspire others, not only regarding barns, but other structures in fear of extinction. If we don't save them, the coming generations will begin to ask, "What is a barn?"
           

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