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Commentary: Follow along as an assessor with the Indiana Barn Foundation evaluates Darrell Boone’s old barn.

Darrell Boone

February 14, 2024

12 Slides

One of the many things I love about my work is that while I usually tell others’ stories, I learn a lot myself. With this assignment I learned that a barn that’s well cared for can last for hundreds of years. I also learned that barn owners are the stewards of their barn and a link in the chain of farmers who have owned and operated these historic structures. The Indiana Barn Foundation provides assessments of old barns to help their owners determine the viability of preserving them.

I’ve owned my farm in Wabash County, Ind., for 35 years, and I, too, have an old barn. I built a new one 10 years ago. It has assumed many of the duties of my old barn. But while my new barn is much more practical and user-friendly, I still have a soft spot in my heart for my old barn. Its main function today is providing shelter for feeder calves in inclement weather, along with a headgate for working them.

For several years, I’ve been on the fence about what to do with the barn. On one hand, I’m not getting much use out of it. I suspected it would cost a pretty penny to preserve or restore it.

On the other hand, there are memories: the psycho heifer that jumped through the window, my grandsons helping me stack hay and work calves, and many others. When I think about those forbears who built the barn, loaded hay into it, and raised animals there, the thought of taking it down is heartbreaking.

Barn assessment

When I heard that the Indiana Barn Foundation provides free old barn assessments, with paying mileage being the only cost, I decided it was time to “call in the cavalry.”

After I requested an assessment, IBF sent Randy Miles, Waynetown, Ind., to analyze my barn. Randy grew up in Indiana, got two of his three degrees at Purdue, and spent his career as a professor of soil science at the University of Missouri. After retiring, he returned to his roots.

Randy is super-knowledgeable about old barns and has a passion for them. He restored two of his own barns. Most importantly, he is an old farm boy at heart.

Read the description with each picture to discover the pros and cons Randy uncovered while assessing the condition of my barn. In the end, whether to save it will be up to me. Part of the decision may boil down to not so much if it could be saved, but at what cost? How does that cost stack up against other possible uses for that capital?

It’s a decision for another day. When I make it, it will be from a position of knowledge thanks to the information and advice offered by Randy Miles, on behalf of IBF. Learn more about IBF at indianabarns.org, email [email protected] or write to: Indiana Barn Foundation, 1201 Central Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46202.

If you visit the website and want to request an assessment on a heritage, pre-1950 barn, click on the “Contact” tab, and request a barn assessment. After the assessment, if you decide you’d like to pursue preservation, renovation or restoration of your barn and learn what it would cost, IBF can provide a list of experienced barn contractors in your area. There is also a tax break available for those who renovate old barns.

About the Author(s)

Darrell Boone

Darrell Boone writes from Wabash, Ind.

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