Local trees to become barn at Root River show grounds
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 08/02/2012 2:09 PM
SPRING VALLEY, Minn. – About 100 years ago, Halvor Hanson tucked Norway spruce seedlings into the pocket of his bib overalls, jumped on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and brought the seedlings to his farmstead near the settlement of Bear Creek in Mower County.
He planted the seedlings as a farmstead windbreak in 1910, according to family lore. They grew and sheltered five generations of Hansons.
Last April and May, Halvor's great grandson, Brian, and his great-great grandson, Lucas, cut 64 trees to make way for a shed on the farm that has been in the family for 146 years. The tallest was 87 feet tall.
Brian didn't need the wood and was reluctant to burn it.
About that time he learned that the Root River Antique Historical Power Association was interested in building a barn. He donated the lumber to the association.
"I thought there was no better cause for the trees to go to," Brian said.
The logs were moved the two miles to the show grounds by semi-trailer.
They hauled about six at a time.
The logs will be sawed into floor joists, wall boards and floor boards beginning July 13, said Steve Hovda of Grand Meadow. The work will take place right on the show grounds in its sawmill. Fillmore Sawmill of Wykoff will cut the bigger timbers. Next year, they will cut the logs into siding, Hovda said.
"I think we'll end up using them all," said Les Radcliffe of Stewartville, association president.
"The trees will turn into a barn," said Todd Juzwiak of Dream Acres Farm in Spring Valley. Juzwiak works with Tillers International, which strives to take traditions of the past and combine them with the technology of today to come up with sustainable, applicable solutions for creating viable, rural, agricultural communities.
A lot of the organizations work is international, but there is also a desire to focus on rural crafts and skills in the United States.
Those skills will be demonstrated this year and next at the Root River Antique Engine and Tractor Show as the barn is built in two phases. A traditional timber frame barn will rise from the poured brick wall foundation. This year, the work will be loud with a lot of hammering. At the end of this year's show, it will look like a capped basement, Juzwiak said. Next year, the main barn will be erected.
This year's work will not be part of a Tiller's International workshop, but next year's work will be, Juzwiak said.
When it's completed in 2013, the barn will be 24 feet by 40 feet, with a 16 foot lean-to, Radcliffe said. It is modeled after a barn on the Harold Sween farm, also from the historical settlement of Bear Creek, where they are getting a wood stave silo that will stand next to the barn. The silo
is 28 feet tall and 12 feet across. The silo was likely built around 1928.
The association is looking for a blower and cutter from that time period to put inside the silo.
The plan is for the barn interior to be furnished as it was when it was a working barn, with draft horse pens on the south end and stanchions on the north side. The milk house will be in the northeast corner.
They hope to have a hay track, water tank, harness hooks, stanchions and a manure track with a tip-over bucket. They have located some of the items and are searching for others. During future shows, they may stable draft horses in the barn along with a couple cows and young stock, Radcliffe said.
The barn project was years in the making. Through the years, a number of people wanted to donate their barn to the association, but they didn't accept them.
"We didn't want a big barn," Radcliffe explained, as they have limited space.
The partnership with Tillers International seemed like a perfect fit.
People will be able to see a somewhat old-fashioned barn raising and people interested in developing the skills of their grandparents and great-grandparents will do the work.
The barn will have a drive-up hay mow, which was integral to barns built in the area, Hovda said.
But their barn will be a modern drive up, Radcliffe said. Instead of piling dirt underneath the drive-up against the barn wall, they will leave a space between the wall and drive-up. They will make a bridge of oak timbers and bridge planks. In old-time barns, the dirt against the wall pushed on the wall and rotted out the floor it came in contact with, Radcliffe said.
The barn is the second edition to a 1930s farmstead being designed on the Root River Antique Historical Power Association show grounds. A brooder house and granary, both from the Sween farm, will be moved to the grounds. The granary was likely built at the end of the 19th century.
The 1930s time frame was chosen because it represents a transition from horse to the mechanical period in agriculture and several of the buildings in use in that period dated from the turn of the century.
So far, a poured brick wall foundation is ready, waiting for the logs from the Hanson farmstead to become a barn.