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Strohl brothers' versatile farm shop fits multiple purposes

SLIDESHOW: The brothers' farm shop is also a ‘man cave,’ office, gym, spare guest suite and working kitchen.

The farm shop often serves more purposes that just a place to work on farm equipment or store machinery out of the elements when it’s not in the field.

Increasingly, farm families choose to put guests bedrooms, workout centers, offices, kitchens or clean-up facilities and more when they are building a new shop.

For Scott Strohl and his brother, Sid, of Pretty Prairie, adding a shop building had to work both as a "man-cave" for retired Scott, who spent a lifetime in the oil business, and for active farmer Sid, who needs a "farm shop" for working on and storing farm machinery.

Scott says the differences in their ideas was immediately apparent. Scott had ordered a 60-by-80-foot Morton building to house the shop.

"Sid came over with his measuring tools and walked back and forth in the area where we had decided to locate the building, just west of my house. It was only minutes until he said, ‘this isn’t big enough; not nearly big enough. We need 20 feet more.'"

Scott immediately called his Morton rep to change the order to 60-by-100-feet.

"Turns out we couldn’t do that. Morton uses 8-foot spans in the building construction and it was either 16 feet more or 24 feet more. So, we went bigger to 60-by-104 feet. I really think when it comes to building, go 25% bigger than you think you need because you always wish you had gone bigger to begin with," he says.

The added space did give the brothers and their families all the things they wanted in the farm shop. There’s room for tool chests and other equipment; space to work on or store machines as big as combines and sprayers; and space for parking farm vehicles.

In addition, there is office space (which includes a single-size bed), a good-sized bathroom and a kitchen area with a table and chairs for working lunches or meetings with suppliers or customers. There is an upstairs loft, with a staircase to access it, that houses a variety of workout equipment.

Oversized garage doors offer room to easily move big equipment in and out, and the doors are insulated to prevent heat loss in the winter.

"Big doors and windows to let in natural light are really important, but you need to make sure they are insulated and airtight," Scott says. "This building is so well insulated that we could leave it unheated and it would never drop below freezing, but we added the heat tubes just to make it more comfortable to work in the winter."

The office and kitchen spaces have both heating and air conditioning because they are used year-around.

The finished ceiling and the tops of the walls provide light and heating tubes, as well as plenty of white space for mounting the various oilfield memorabilia collected by their dad, and later by Scott, during careers with Standard Oil and later for Amoco when it merged with Standard.

"My dad working for Standard Oil and I was in business with him," Scott says. "He retired when Amoco sold everything in Pretty Prairie and offered an opportunity to stay on as a jobber. But I was interested in maintaining the affiliation, and so I stayed in the oil business and Sid took over farming."

Scott says said he sold the jobber business to the co-op in Cheney a little over two years ago and retired.

"That’s when I decided I wanted my ‘man-cave’ and oilfield memorabilia space," he says. In addition to his collection of oil company signs, he has another of gas cans that are displayed along the front of the railing he installed for safety along the edge of the loft. The gym is used by a variety of family members and even by one neighbor.

"Overall, we’re really satisfied with the service and quality we got from Morton, and I look forward to spending a lot of happy hours in here," Scott says.

Five things to keep in mind when you are adding a farm shop
Putting in a little extra thought and planning will help make any farm shop addition a success that your family will be happy with for years to come. These recommendations were made by Dan Nyberg, Morton Buildings Training Manager.

Here are five things to keep in mind:

Pick a central location to ensure consistent use of the building. One of the advantages of having a shop is having a place where tools are stored and where it is easy to return them to. Having the shop conveniently located means you can keep an eye on other major functions that are going on at the farm.

Make sure the site of the building makes it easy for equipment to be moved in and out. Think about what equipment may be added or upgraded and make sure the building will remain accessible for the foreseeable future.

Think about where doors and windows are located. It’s a good idea to position the largest doors on the south of east side of the building to avoid blustery and cold winds from the north and west.

Don’t try to remember the size of equipment or the vehicles you will want to store or work on. Get out and measure equipment. Be sure to consider the amount of room you will need to move around machinery as you work.

The future
Think about any trades you are considering, realizing that new equipment will likely be larger than what you have today. Keep in mind that you can add length to a building easily, but that adding width or height gets really expensive. When you map out your location, it is a good idea to make sure there is room to add length if you need it at a future date.

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