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  • Writer's pictureMelody Lager

The Story of Outbuildings

Barns are the most well known, and probably most beloved of all the outbuildings on afarm. After a shelter for humans, a barn was most critical. Built to house animals that were needed for milk and meat – and money, barns were usually wood in this area of the country. You will find some brick ones, or ones with a stone bottom too. In some countries, the barn was tied next to the house and indeed, may have been part of the home! This tradition carried into our Eastern states. As for the popular red paint – itseems it was the cheapest paint to buy! One thought was that a red barn was for meat cattle, while white signified a dairy barn. Barns may have held a row of stanchions to milk cows, open pens for calves and pigs, stalls for horses, a tack room for gear, a feedroom for ground food, and of course – a haymow. The museum has a catalog of barnitems from "STAR LINE", which includes photos like the one above.


The hog house (and pigpen!) had a lower roof line than the barn. As the farmer added more pigs to his operation, it became necessary for another building. Often, these buildings would have multiple windows so a breeze could come thru. They might also have stalls, to allow a farrowing sow to have her babies away from the crowd.


Chicken houses (laying houses) were different still. An open area was surrounded by wood (or metal) boxes for the hens to lay their eggs. Another item would be a line of boards, usually staggered like stair steps, for the chickens to roost on. Chickens are very popular with wildlife – so the chicken house needed to be as tight as possible – noo open holes! Below shows an ad from Sears for a chicken house.


Silos – brick or steel – held silage (ground corn/corn stalks) for feeding. Every now and then you will see a silage pit. Silos are slowing disappearing.


Corn Crib – another item slowly disappearing from the countryside. Cribs were built with partially open sides to allow air flow for ear corn to dry. Some had an interior aisle for atractor and wagon to go thru, others may have held an area for oats.



Some other items you may see on a farm include “A frame” houses for hogs, a machine shed with or without doors to store equipment, a cattle shed to protect the animals from the cold, a wood shed close to the house, and an outdoor toilet (privy).

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