Tuesday, July 20, 2010

let's raise a barn

Those of you who have been following this story know about my dreams of wanting to become a shepherd. You knew me before the flock, before Gibson, before sheepdog trials, before Sarah, and before Vermont. You've been sharing advice, cheering me on, and keeping me going. I thank you, so much.

This blog has become more than just my story, and that's because you're here reading it. Community has always been a huge part of my story. It only seems fitting that I reach out to you now that we are months away from my breeding flock being delivered to Cold Antler. In a few months the hooves will hit the ground and my life as a wool and lamb producer will change forever. So tonight I have an announcement. I want to host a barn raising.

A blog barn raising can't be conventional. Distance, age, oceans, and so much more separate us as a group. Despite those things, we are still a tribe. All of us understand the importance of a garden, of clean food, of fresh air, sunlit soaked animals and good music. So I am thinking this: If you want to help raise the pole barn that will be the flocks new home, be a part of this. Mail me a nail in an envelope. Send a postcard with words of encouragement. Paint a picture, send a photo, email me barn plans, gift your old hammer. If you want to help with the big stuff you can offer to lend me your saw horse or power tools. Maybe you can hunt down the Albany Craigslist for barn boards for free pickup, or cheap used fencing. I just want this structure: the first that I'll add as a homeowner, to be everyones'. If you ever visit the farm I want you to be able to say, "Yup, that was the nail I mailed from St. Paul. I painted the end blue." or "That's the lumber I donated my frothy coffee cash towards." I don't care how you participate: I just want it to be ours.

I want my sheep to be safe from wind and snow and rain under a roof we all helped build. I want the outside to have your stories, and memories, and trinkets nailed to it. Those of you who live close: come over and bring your tool belts. Those of you far away: send some encouragement.

I know together we can raise a barn. We can get a safe structure up for the growing flock. We've come this far.


Blogger Siberian said...

Good luck, Jenna! No experience with carpentry or the like here, but I may be in your area in later August. If you plan on working on it then, and would need a hand with lifting, moving parts, or anything else a novice can help out with, then I am more than willing!

July 20, 2010 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Gremlina said...

oh what a great idea. we've been hoping to organize a barn raising round our farm, too. ANY structure we have we'll have to raise...i've been thinking a lot lately, how no one can do this farm-thing on their own! i've heard a lot of horror stories...

July 20, 2010 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Carrie in Wisconsin said...

This is awesome! But, I'll have to think a bit more about what to send.....I'm so excited for you, and for this!

July 20, 2010 at 10:38 PM  
Blogger LilacCottageGoats said...

That is so sweet of you wanting to enclude all of us. I would love to send you something for your new barn. I have to think about what it will be.

July 20, 2010 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

okay! if you have something to mail, email me at


and I'll give you an address.

July 20, 2010 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger ~ Janis said...

Have any work crew dates in mind ?
I'm interested. Its a great idea.

Ironically, I just did a lengthy blog post on Vermont barns tonight.


July 20, 2010 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

What a great idea! Is your existing barn inappropriate for sheep? Unsafe? Share with us why you have decided to erect a new structure. Curious minds, and all that.

July 20, 2010 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

What a terrific idea. I'm sitting here watching a National Geographic show "Aftermath: World without Oil" and catching up on a few blogs. The coincidence is, they were just saying how folks would have to start raising their own chickens and start gardens.
When I think of it, a barn raising makes complete sense. It is pure homesteading. I am willing to help however I can.
Here's a few questions:
Do you have barn plans?
How much sq. footage do you need? Reclaimed wood from old barns could be a great source. You can check to see if anyone is bringing down an old barn or replacing one.
Do you have any building supplies? Do you need building permits where you live?
I'll wait on your response and start checking out places for wood for you.

July 21, 2010 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger Rois said...

Can I send you hand forge nails? Made right here at Hrafinstaad Homestead? Well I am sending them with the hopes you will love them.

July 21, 2010 at 12:36 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

I too, want to think about what to send you, but Jenna, wouldn't it be a good idea to have a place to keep track of what you're getting and what you need? I'd rather send something you don't have that you could use, and I'm signing up right here and now to send you a framing square and at least one spirit level, because I have an extra one of each. I want to give some more thought to what else I can send, but be thinking of how to keep track of everything so you can get what you need and not fifty-bazillion hammers....

Remember- I'm good for a framing square and a spirit level...

I'll send you an email in a bit. Good luck and I wish I was closer- I love swingin' a hammer!

July 21, 2010 at 1:41 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Hi Jena,

Do you know about these links:




There is also a pretty good book available on Amazon:


July 21, 2010 at 2:58 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

The barn on the property is falling apart, and far from the pasture. It was built before the woods grew back and so to use it I would have to rebuild the frame, put on a new roof, and clear all the woods and build fences right up to the house.... not a great idea with flys and feces in the summer.

plus, it would cost a fortune. the red barn and such to get it ready is about 20,000. I bet I could build a new, amazing small pole barn for a quarter of that.

I will keep track of what comes in, and i will need a permit. Right now the plan is for a 20x10ft barn open mostly on one side. a fancy shed really.

i have contacted a few people pricing it, all are expensive (5-8k). I think i will need to do this a little more homespun....

July 21, 2010 at 5:30 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

A run-in shed with an area to store hay and bedding might be all you need short term. Have you looked at any pre-built ones? Around here there are several places that build them and deliver to your site. Not sure of the cost or even if that's something that would interest you. Just a random thought.

Many years ago, my parents had a "frolic", basically a (pole) barn raising for my sister's horses. I now own the property and that's where my sheep, chickens, and geese are along with hay and feed storage. Just a 24x32 pole barn, but very useful.

Good luck to you!

July 21, 2010 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

What a cool idea! I'll see what we can come up with! Best wishes, as always Jenna.

July 21, 2010 at 7:29 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Like Kathleen, I too was thinking about a prebuilt runin shed. There is a place between Greenwich and Argyle that sells them. I know an oldfashioned barn raising would be more fun and in keeping with the homestead mindset but sometimes the quick and dirty way works with less stress.

July 21, 2010 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger My Edible Yard said...

Has anyone ever told you that you're brilliant? What a wonderful idea!

July 21, 2010 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

We're looking at doing a barn raising. We got our plans on www.stablewise.com we got the 36x36 gable plan.

In a week or so we're going to be putting in the plans to the building department. I'm thinking when the weather gets cooler (or at least not scorching hot, Florida only gives so much) we'll invite people over to do the raising. Some of our friends expressed interest in helping us build but we have to have the materials to do it.

The barn itself isn't difficult to build, it's getting the 16 poles verticle and plumb. We're coming up your way in October, visiting our family in NH. I'd love to talk to you about hosting a field trip for my brood :)

July 21, 2010 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger CallieK said...

Toronto is only 7 hours from Jackson and I'll bet I can get a bus at least to Albany. If you decided to rally the troops, say the word and I'll arrive with my tools and a tent to sleep in. I'm due for an adventure!

July 21, 2010 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger our urban farmhouse ♥ said...

Hi Jenna!

I would love to contribute a piece of our urban farmhouse to your barn raising. Can you email your address? I'll pick something special and drop it in the mail!


July 21, 2010 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Erika said...

Count me in. As long as I'm not out of town or something, I'll head over and help put it up!

July 21, 2010 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Just another thought on the subject. A prebuilt run in shed for this winter and next spring's lambing season would give you time to plan the barn of your dreams. It would also give you a chance to visit other farms and see what they have and what they say works well and what doesn't work well or at all.

July 21, 2010 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Also those prebuilt buildings have a pretty good resale value and are easily transported.

July 21, 2010 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

What a great idea! My only concern is that people mailing you nails could put you on some terrorist watchlist ... may want to research that. I'm in, though...will be emailing you after a brainstorm to figure out how I can contribute. Hugs!

July 21, 2010 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger Moose Nuggets said...

10x20 shouldn't cost much at all- even here in AK where everything is more expensive, we built out 8x14 chicken coop for about $1200- and we went WAY overboard. (um, plank floors, heavily insulated for our -50F winter temps, partitioned for next years brooder box and feed storage, etc.)
A homespun 10x20 should be doable for less.
If you are thinking of a three sided bldg, consider some lean-to plans. I've seen some great ones made from pallets and such.

July 22, 2010 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger debi said...

I love it! Count me in. Don't know what I will send but I'll find something, plus a nail. I've sorta been lurking for a while now. I love this place and what you are doing. Best of luck my friend, debi

July 22, 2010 at 12:26 AM  
Blogger Harpy 101 said...

Amongst all the wicked cool folks here I feel lame just donating from a credit card...but better than doing nothing. :)

July 22, 2010 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Mona from Sweet Harmony Farm said...

Jenna, I've also seen 'barn kits' out there on the web, and they certainly have the run-in shed style you're describing. There's a place here in New Hampshire that makes these kits. Let me know if that interests you and I will find their contact info.

July 22, 2010 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger kristina said...

oh goodness, this is so tempting. i'm kind of small but handy with a drill? keep me posted.


July 22, 2010 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

I built a 20 x 20 pole barn two years ago. I built it by myself in about a week. Cost me about $50 total. I keep a Belgian draft and a Quarterhorse in it all year round.

I used logs that I cut on my property for the poles, scavenged everything else except for the nails, screws and joist hangers.

It won't last a hundred years, but it's good enough until I can afford a more permanent one.

I'm just over the mountain from you in Vt. I wish I could say I would come help, but I've got so many projects to do before summer's end, my wife would kill me.

From what I have read on your blog, I have no doubt you will get this barn built in time. Love your blog!

July 22, 2010 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Hi Jenna
My hubby built our pole barn, four years ago this coming winter. It is 36 x 60. Tin roof, and sides. We had the neighbour to come over with his tractor and post hole auger, which saved alot of time. Frank and I stood the poles up and tamped them in by hand. He did that work in October. He framed the walls and roof by mid-December. The tin was delivered about the time he was down framing. A few days after Christmas 2006, he had finished putting on the tin. Not bad for one man, who also has a full time job. Our barn cost about $10, 000 Canadian.
My barn isn't finished inside yet-no floor except where my milking stalls are. It is partially wired-you guessed it-where my milk stalls are. There is one door and that is on the west end. We have one stall that measures 12 x 30, where my girls hang out with my tiny flock of woollies. Bit by bit, we will get it finished.

Good luck with your barn Jenna. You will spend many happy hours there. It is my favourite building to be in.

July 22, 2010 at 9:02 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

How exciting!! I would love to make a trip up to pound some nails. Will email and send you something special from Lancaster, PA..

July 24, 2010 at 5:51 PM  

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