If there ever was a site to shelter from a pandemic, it is the new farm shop of Bill and Kristin Henak.
Built on 240 rolling acres near Red Wing, Minn., the 54-by-100-foot structure offers room for equipment storage and repair, woodworking and living space. Plus, it has in-floor shop heating, air conditioning in the living area and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Henaks purchased the farm in 1993, still with its original house and barn. For years, the acreage provided Kristin’s dad, Bud Allers, a retired carpenter, a place to go and to continue to work with his hands. Allers kept busy with small building projects and planted more than 1,000 trees on the site. Sadly, he died on St. Patrick’s Day 2020. At that point, the Henaks began to look at the site with fresh eyes and what it could provide for them.
“Last summer, Kris and I needed to decide, do we keep the farm or not?” Bill says. “We had a lot of conversations, which included our [adult] children, too. COVID was a blessing in a way.” The pandemic limited their work and travel, prompting them to zero in on what was important.
They decided to build a multipurpose refuge where they could work on projects, and host family and guests. They tore down the barn, being careful to save the wood, and then they bulldozed the site. They also tore down the house but left nearby trees and limestone rocks that once lined basement walls. Here, they placed a plaque, Richter Ridge, in memory of the family that once lived there.
The Henaks worked with Morton Buildings on the farm shop design and started building last summer. Features include kitchen and bathroom facilities, an upstairs loft and bedrooms, large overhead doors, an epoxy poured floor, acoustic steel (to minimize noise), 6-inch blown insulation in the walls and ceiling, and an electric vehicle plug.
“We always wanted a place where we could all gather, and the kids could enjoy,” Bill adds, noting that the acreage provides room to stretch. The Henaks also have a home on-site. Of the 240 acres, 70 acres are rented cropland, 50 acres are in the Conservation Reserve Program, and the remainder is woods and non-tillable land. Hay Creek winds through the property, along with prairie.
“We’ve had friends tell us that it seems more like a state park here than a farm,” he says.