The old octagonal (eight-sided) barn was simply a shipwreck. The haystack floor is rotten and unstable. A barn floor full of old straw and the remains of a cattle feeder. Corruption was everywhere.
Like many empty dairy farms across the country, the structure was considered hopeless and without a future for most, except Kari Stebbins. I saw a decaying barn with a roof, solid walls and framework, two floors filled with people eating, drinking and celebrating as destinations and homes for public events of various kinds.
11 years ago
Stebbins and Owen Brush purchased the 4.5-acre former farm in December 2011.
“We worked from home for a year and a half before we moved,” says Stebbins. do things ”
While working on the house, the couple began making plans to clean up the farm, including removing the fallen building. It also meant to remove.
Can you believe they knocked down the two silos with the help of a few friends? “I did it with a sledgehammer,” Stebbins replied. “One swing at a time and eventually they fell.”
Rebuilding the round barn included removing the old concrete floor and remnants of the wooden manger, lifting the entire barn over the repaired masonry walls, tearing out the rotten haystack floor, and reinforcing the roof supports. , which included returning the barn to its foundation. walls, installation of new roofs, etc.
The former double 6 milking parlor and free stall barn behind the parlor have long disappeared, replaced by changing rooms and toilets.
he knows history
Doug Feiner of Spring Green knew the farm’s history. He lived on most of it, and yes, it was a prominent dairy farm for many years.”My grandfather Joe Fainer purchased this farm in his 1933 and his father Felix took over in 1941.” ‘, Fainer begins. “Until 1959 we were milking 30 of his cows with a barn vacuum cleaner and a pole in the middle.”
In 1959, the family expanded into a free stall barn housing 59 cows and a milking center with double six parlors, bulk tanks and a feed room, continues Feiner. “We installed a Barn-O-Matic feeder in a round barn and fed cows in three feedways there. We also installed a 20-by-60-foot concrete stave silo that year. I remember all the people at , thinking we were crazy.
“Our milking parlor was the first milking parlor in Sauk County and one of the first in the state. In fact, our herd of 60 cows was large at the time. ‘ he said.
Hay was stored in round barns, first as loose hay and then as bales. Doug remembers unloading hay and taking two elevators up. “We store 25,000 small hay bales each year and stack them up to the roof and cupola,” he says. “We kids climbed to the top and looked out over the countryside from that height.”
leave the farm
In the mid-1980s, Doug’s father retired from dairy farming and decided to sell the farm. “The cow was auctioned off in June of 1988,” he continues. “I stayed there and made cash for two more years. My father rented the farm out to him for a year or so and then sold it.Since then things have gotten worse.”
Feiner has some other comments about the round barn and farm. “The eight-sided barn was built in 1891 or 1892. The barn didn’t have an internal silo like many round barns,” he says. “Also, there are doors on each side of the haymower that allowed the hay wagon to pass through after unloading.”
The floor and framework of the barn were of soft wood, and had been broken when Mr. and Mrs. Feiner drove their hay wagons to harvest. “We were fixing all the time,” he added.
Cari Stebbins is the operations manager of the famous American Players Theater in Spring Green and is a very busy young woman. Will she be able to complete her vision of restoring an old round barn? I bet on it!
The first wedding took place in 2017 in an eight-sided barn. A member of the Feiner family. Seven weddings have yet to take place during this season. What about building paint? I asked. “I want to,” Kari says. “But the wedding party wants it to stay rustic.”
And there remains an eight-sided barn in the country that has a real agricultural history, and now houses people rather than cattle.
John F. Oncken can be reached at [email protected].