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Building A Pole Barn


daryl

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We have decided to build a pole barn in which to house our various farm equipment. A bit of back story - my hubby and I have decided we want to retire to a farm. Years ago, we designed and ran about 1000 acres that we turned into a totally "green" or off-the-grid operation. We are looking to do this for ourselves in the future.

This has proved to be a challenge. There is sooo much to learn. But little by little we are learning. While we are at it, we are providing the local farmers with a good laugh - nearly everyday. I have read everything about crops and such and this year we put in our first crops. Corn, wheat, soybeans and alfalfa have gone so high in prices that it was well worth it. Add that to the fact that we are one of the few high and dry farms in the area..... much of the other crop land has been flooded out this year.

First, we went to an engineering business and had plans drawn up for an engineered building that would withstand 90 mph winds and a frost line to 42 inches deep. Then we set about to build it. This is a "kit".... the company supplies all the plans and contracts with all the different suppliers of the pieces - wood, steel, insulation, doors, etc.....every nut and bolt (not nails) that we need.

First we dug the place. It is essential to remove all the topsoil from the piece of land. Top soil is spongy and unstable. We needed to get down to undisturbed soil. Unfortuately, we have very sandy soil - with loads of rocks only about 10-12 inches down in this spot (not particularly fertile ground - great for a barn).

We bought our tractor and started digging. The toothbar for the tractor was backordered, so we were digging with a flat blade.... not particularly efficiant, but it worked in the soft soil.

Note the size of the corn surrounding the area.

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Then we starting taking delivery of the parts. Each was done by a different company. Note - the farm is about 1.5 hours from home....so it was quite a finagle to get there to meet delivery men.

Here, the rafters were dumped from the truck.....

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The lumber arrived all in a packet - and was dumped in the grass. We carried it, piece by piece into the old haybarn that is beside our worksite. We want the wood to remain as dry as possible - not an easy feat considering it has rained almost every day for MONTHS now.

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After running batter boards around, making a water level (hose with water in it to find true level. Much cheaper than those fancy electronic lazer levels - but works just as well) , we found that the area was VERY uneven - far more than we thought. We had to bring in a lot more gravel than we orginally planned on - this is a truck of large gravel - 3-4 inches in diameter, mostly. We got 4 truckloads and spread them around with the tractor. Before the slab is poured for the floor (in the future) we will need small crushed gravel on top.

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The steel arrived - and was offloaded by crane from the truck. It is VERY VERY heavy - and quite valuable. We were instructed to keep it dry ..... so we carried it, piece by piece into a POD that we rented for equipment and such. It took over 10 hours to carry it all in. We could only carry one or two pieces at a time - it was very heavy and the wind was too high and we did not want the wind to bend it. That was HARD work. This delivery, too, was done at sunset.

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There was one more delivery day - the day the entrance doors, the garage doors and the replacement piece of steel for the ones that were wrong.... I had to take those deliveries by myself. I devised a method to drag the door pieces into the barn - with a board slide, a rope and a heck of alot of work. IT was raining, of couse, so I did not take pictures of that.

We rented a skid loader with power augers on it to drill the holes. 8 holes are 24 inch diameter and 6 are 18 inch diameter. Here is a shot of us digging those holes. They have to be 42 inches into the soil - so need to be 65-72 inches deep when you include the gravel.

I hafta make dinner now. More later.

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Daryl! I didn't know your farm was green, that's awesome! Your corn looks good, green and bushy, last I heard corn was $8 a bushel :thud No wonder everyone is planting it though around here with our drought its looking pretty yellow and limp. What a great project, thanks for including pictures! I love seeing what everyone gets up to.

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This farm is not "Green" yet. It is just land - about 105 acres of cropland, forest and river. We are cleaning all the junk and waste from the ravines (100s of years of that! - but it has to wait until fall, winter and spring for time) and I am taking courses on herbacides, pestacides and organic cultivation. The land we ran before was all livestock. We do not want any livestock. I do not have the heart to raise something just for death. So crops it will be. Since we are in the corn belt of the midwest, the common cash crops are corn, soybeans and wheat. Alfalfa is a good, local seller - particularly high quality for dairy in Wisconsin (we are 5 minutes from Wisconsin). Not too many farmers bother to harvest for high qualtiy forage, so we are trying to do so. So far we have pinned the meters on quality of alfalfa in the first two hayings. :)

We got the soybeans in late because of weather, so we used a 00variety - one that grows quickly for the shortened season. They will not produce quite the same bushels per acre, but are well worth it - and look to produce well, anyway. The otehr local farmers are watching - they do not believe in the newer varieties - they go with the tried and true. Ours is up and producing.... theirs are still just 4 inchs high. The corn has completely tasseled out, now - and looks to be a good crop, too. The rain and heat have been ideal - for it is not just days accomplished in the ground, but degree heat days - and we have really had the heat and rain!

Finding the large enough auger in a small enough machine was the difficult part. Actually digging the holes was a bit tough. The ground we chose is very rocky. When the auger hits a rock, it tends to slide off sides and not dig straight and true. The auger hangs by gravity from the support and thus can be easily misdriven. We have found that several of our holes are not accurate - and require further digging..... by hand in the heat is not easy. I am not willing to pay the money for the rental again - or the high delivery fee. Our little Ford Ranger pickup is not nearly enough truck to haul equipment like that!

Because of the extraordinarily wet weather we have had (a 100 year type season!) we have, for some reason, a bumper crop of little green leopard frogs - about 2-3 inches big. There are literally 1000s and 1000s per acre. They are welcome, for they eat the insects - no pesticides needed ( I LOVE IT!), but they have an unfortunate affinity for jumping into the holes we dug. Once in the hole, they cannot get out. They are too deep in there for me to reach in and get them, they will not climb wood pieces to get out and any I coax onto anything jump off when I try to lift them out.

So, in every hole in which I fit, I have climbed down into the hole and caught the little frogs and tossed them up and out. Most of them land into the corn or the grass. A few jump right back in on my head. It is a hot, frustrating exercise, but I am not prepared to just to let them die. My hubby laughs his head off. At 56-75 inches deep holes, you cannot see me - just the frogs flying up and out of the hole.

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With the holes dug, the level lines and batter boards up, we started putting in poles. Our neighbors have a group of strong young men to put up their barn. Since we are the "new folk" and "city" at that, they are sitting and watching what we do...... not really helping, yet. We have made a number of fast friends, though. I helped a goat with a breach birth (something I know about), and my hubby fixed a broken tractor wiring in the field for a very tight-lipped farmer who has since given us a nod every time he sees us. (a nod is GOOD.... most of these guys rarely say more than 2 words at a time. A smile is rare, but a nod is great friendship. )

We meaure the middle of the pole and wrap a tie just higher than the balance point. The tractor can then lift the pole up so that it is mostly supported by the blade. I take the bottom of the pole (not very heavy now) and lift it and walk it as my hubby drives the tractor forward towards the hole. I push the pole up and into place over the hole and he drops it down into the hole a I twist it into place. It is hard work, but works pretty well. If we slid them into the holes, the edges of the hole would collapse and fill in, so they must be placed from above.

Here is a shot of the first pole in and the second going in. Each pole is then braced with a triangle of wood and a stake that is driven 3 feet into the ground. We fasten it up with clamps, remove the tractor and then level it, sliding it with another 2X4 stud into place and tweaking it with the level and clamps. When it is deemed level, placed properly and just right, we nail the braces into place and it stays, until all the poles are done and we can pour the concrete into the holes for the bottom braces.

For the poles on the west side, we have opted to add extra re-bar wrapped around the pole and inserted into the concrete. It supposedly will hold the barn to 100mph winds. We had 80mph winds just the other day, so we think that it is wise.

I think the corn has grown another foot since last week when that picture was taken. Today, after work (cooler in the evening) we plan to go out and see how many of the last poles we can get in. We have5 more to go ..... I will take a picture of all the poles that are up - and the corn if you wish. It is TALL. Because of the height of the corn, it blocks the breezes on the hot days - and makes it hotter working there. No breeze, heavy humidity and hot sun are pretty miserable. We are kind of proud of what we are doing - and particularly proud that we have figured out ways of doing each job by ourselves.

Next thing we have to figure out is how to hoist the trusses up to the top of the poles, level and fasten them. That ought to be fun. :rolleyes:

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WE were planning on building a house and going into "full retirement" by 2010. BUT...... with the economy downturn, work bonuses and our investments are not doing as well as we had hoped and our new grandson has needed extraordinarily expensive heart surgery, the money may or may not be there when we need it.

The insurance only pays the first million dollars of care for the baby - and we have taken out multiple loans to pay for the next rounds. The house may have to wait a bit - granchildren are more important.

On the positive..... my hubby ad I have an idea for a new invention that may pan out nicely - allowing us that retirement. All we have to do is work HARDER to try to fit it all into 24 hours in a day. Whew. That is hard.

The crops look to be real BUMPER ones - approximately 160-`180 bushels corn per acre and really nicely for the soybeans and wheat. That should help a lot!

We are planning on getting the last 5 poles up tommorrow night - stay until they are up. We went out last night and fixed the holes that were "wrong" and redug out the ones that had filled in too much with the torrential rains. Tomorrow it should (emphasis on SHOULD) not be too hard to get the last ones in. That way we can call up the cement truck and get them cemented into place on Friday afternoon.

Next week is dedicated to OshKosh fly in for my hubby - so no work on the farm. I need to clean and baby-proof the house for a visit from our extremely capable 1 year old grandson who will be coming for a week.... and grooming my fish for show coming up in AUg. :)

Here are a couple of shots from last night. Almost all the poles are up. The corn is very high and has silked out nicely, now... (my hubby is 6' 3" )

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I hope things work out for the best Daryl !! :hug ...we live so close but how different our medical care is !!!....a house is a house & no where near as important as family :exactly ....with all your hard work and dedication to your family Daryl I'm sure you will have a fine retirment

ps holy moly that corn is high!!! I'm 5'2 on a good day and I think the corn around here comes up to my hip!!!!

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The insurance only pays the first million dollars of care for the baby - and we have taken out multiple loans to pay for the next rounds. The house may have to wait a bit - granchildren are more important.

Yes, these lifetime insurance maximums are distressing. Our insurance has a $2 million lifetime maximum and fortunately we are not yet approaching that (even with my oldest son's diaphragmatic hernia and heart defect surgery and subsequent follow-up care), but most people don't realize that one major accident or illness can put a person over that maximum in a matter of days or weeks and a million dollars is really not much at all when it comes to high-tech medical care. Your daughter and her husband are so lucky to have you and your husband standing behind them financially.

I don't know if there is any chance that they will pass, but there are legislators trying to push bills through congress that would prevent insurance companies from imposing lifetime maximums on coverage -- perhaps it would be helpful for you to contact your congressperson and tell them your family's story.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25644309/

With regard to your barn, all I have to say is that I am amazed at the things you are able to accomplish! How on earth do you get out of bed in the morning after hauling around all those poles and digging all those holes? I very much wish that I could look toward such a physically active retirement; unfortunately at age 32 I cannot do a fraction of what you do without weeks of painful consequences (as a result a serious car accident in 2003 caused by a person on their cell phone, grrr...)

How come none of these photos ever include you?! Please post photos of you and your grandson next week while he is there with you. :)

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!$%!&&!!??%$#!! What you're doing is incredible. I'll bet the farmers are developing respect for you, seeing all that hard work. Not like you hired a crew of 20 to come in and built everything for you, and it's great that you have skills that can be of help to them and the community. Bet your grandchildren are going to love the farm as they grow up!

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The insurance only pays the first million dollars of care for the baby - and we have taken out multiple loans to pay for the next rounds. The house may have to wait a bit - granchildren are more important.

Wow, I'm blown away. I guess living where I do I really take health care for granted. On the bright side, at least he only had the one surgery as opposed to the series of them you mentioned :)

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On Thursday evening, we stayed until sundown and got the last 5 poles into the ground, leveled and braced. On Friday morning, I called the concrete company for 6 yards of 5 sack pole barn mix to be delivered after 2pm. We boogied on out the the farm at noon (1/2 day off work, ugh) and I weeded my garden while we waited for the concrete truck. They arrived at about 4 pm and we poured the concrete.

The truck driver backed up and sent the stuff down the chute. I think the proper word for it is shkloooop. My hubby aimed the chute and told the driver when to turn it on and off and I shkloooped it in and around each pole. You have to gloop your shovel up and down in it to make sure there are no air bubbles and to make sure it fills well in and around all the places. Then you gloop it level - mostly.

It was hard work.

At the end of all the poles, we had very little left - we measured pretty well!!!! Math is wonderful - calculating the volume of an irregular shape resembling a cylindar (augered hole).... it worked, anyway! We had the driver water down the last little bit and we dumped it over the base rock where it will set, then become broken up as we drive on it. It will be covered when we get the floor concreted in.

Next week my hubby flies to OshKosh for the annual Air Venture - so no work will be done for a week - giving the concrete time to set.

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I planted a couple of pumpkin plants that I bought at a local nursery - not ones I did from seed. IT was late in the season, so I took the short way. The pumpkins were listed as "small sweet pie pumpkins". They have, however, taken off with a vengence. I have pumpkins growing that are VERY VERY large - one is 26 inches in diameter and growing strongly still. I put a bunch of hay under it to keep it off the ground. Some of the others are as big as basketballs.

I have NO idea what I will do with great big pumpkins. I do not expect that they will taste the best in pies. I think, perhaps, I shall see if I can donate them to someone. I do not celebrate Halloween - and I only really need one for Thanksgiving decoration. In the future, I will use seed - a bit more reliable. I suspect the labels got misplaced at the nursery. Somewhere, someone who wanted prize winning jumbo Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins is disappointed with all their 4 inch pie pumpkins!

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I'm getting stuck this reality miniseries docudrama.... don't give up on us. I wanna see this barn done!

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