The Barn Story
Morning and evening chores filled the Becker barn with activity. Work horses stamped their impatience to be fed. Eighteen Brown Swiss cows vocalized wanting to be fed and milked and the cats were always hopeful for a taste shot their way. Milking was a two man job. One fed grain to settle the dairy cows while the other hooked up the two milking machines. Munching on hay kept the cows calm and occupied while the machines did their job.
Milk from the Becker farm was Grade A and picked up daily by an Allen Dairy insulated truck. (Grade B milk was made into cheese.) The twice-daily milking yielded 70 gallons and was stored in ten gallon milk cans. Because it was graded for milk, it had to be kept cool in the milk house; three cans were kept in a cooler in the ground and the remaining four were stored in a regular cooler.
This barn provided a life, a home, and a means of supporting and sustaining the Becker family for many years. It stood unharmed through a century of country winds and weather. Our barn survived the Great Depression, helping keep a young family fed. No fire, natural disasters or calamity ever befell this building. It stood as a monument to the decades of farming that define Indiana.
When the fourth generation of Beckers took ownership of the property, the barn was nearly 100 years old and in disarray. It had been used for storage for many years; its only recent inhabitants were a 1954 Allis Chalmers WD tractor, a few broken down wagons, and a lifetime of memories.
Our barn measured 36’ x 60’ and stood 37’ to the peak. It was different from the typical barn built circa 1900; it had two driveways side by side on the inside used to unload wagonloads of hay. The driveways were open into the rafters limiting the haymow space. However, a couple thousand bales of hay were still stored each season. When there was room and the chores were done, the boys even shot hoops up there! The beautiful oak beams were 10” square and each cut from single trees. Seven cross beams were 36’ long and the longest oak beam was 41’ long. The gambrel roof was made from cedar shingles. The siding was made from yellow pine. The barn was built on a stone foundation with no mortar. A porch stood on the south side of the building.
We researched ways to restore the barn to its former glory. We even cabled and winched the center vertical beams of the barn, hoping to pull the sagging walls back to being square. The more closely we examined the beams, the more we were convinced the damage was beyond repair. The roof needed replaced many years ago and our beautiful barn was reluctantly succumbing to the elements. We finally gave up the hope of a complete restoration and focused on salvaging what we could to pass on to the next generation.
It took us almost two years to carefully take apart the old barn. Every board was examined to see if it could have a new life. Much of it had been destroyed by age and water damage, yet some of it remains today.
You can own a piece of history. The Becker Barn is gone but these pictures are timeless classics. With the simple beauty of times past, people of all ages can appreciate and enjoy these one-of-a-kind framed pictures. At RedBarnFocus.com, we’re giving new life to an old barn.