Barn: Part 1

Monitor Barn

Our plans for a barn originated at the moment that the land was purchased. Those plans have evolved a lot over the years, but there has never been a question as to the importance of the building that will become the centerpiece in our revival of this old hillside farm.

While not intentional, we seem to be following a common sequence employed by 19th century settlers in Vermont. First, a temporary house/cabin was erected to house the family. Next, work began on the barns and associated buildings necessary for storing crops and housing livestock. Finally (if the landowners had survived to that point), a permanent home was built.

Our own progression began with the building of Gypsy Rose (our micro-house project that began in 2006), followed by a 20-foot by 30-foot, three-bay equipment shed with loft that was completed in the spring of 2011. Five months later we broke ground for the main barn. Over the years from then ’til now, we’ve settled into the realities of a multi-year project that has stretched a couple of years beyond our original timeline. We’ve had to be patient and adjust along the way.

This post will be the first in a series that will bring the reader up to date with our progress, so let’s get started with the ground-breaking – October 18th, 2011.

Monitor Barn

Originally we’d thought we’d site the barn closer to the road, near the entrance to the orchard. That idea was short-lived once we got a handle on the grades involved. Eventually we settled on a site in the middle of the orchard and found that the slope at that location is well suited for a bank barn with drive-in access to the main floor from the uphill side and access to a basement root cellar beneath the forebay on the downhill side. Once staked out, we cleared and stockpiled the topsoil and excavation began.

Monitor Barn

Our local hardware store has been the source for all our rental equipment needs (and more). On a balmy early November day a small excavator was trailered to our orchard and I dug a two-foot wide by five-foot deep trench that would form what is known as a “rubble trench” foundation. A stone-filled trench is used as a substitute for placing concrete footings and walls down below the frost line.

Monitor Barn

In the photo above, Marion checks the level and rakes the floor of the area that is to become the root cellar.

Monitor Barn

Once the trenches were dug, perforated drain pipe was laid with an outlet extending lower into the orchard. The trench was then filled with crushed stone that had been trucked in from a nearby quarry by our neighbor (who conveniently owns a dump truck).

Monitor Barn

The rubble trench and drains were completed by mid-November of 2011. The next phase of the project would wait until autumn of the following year.

Monitor Barn