The Barn — Wow!

The old barn at Mule Springs -- February 2011.

When we bought Mule Springs in spring of 2011, the old barn was filled with rounds of rusted barbed and woven wire.  Sections of the barn walls were missing.  Half the roof was sheeted with tin, but the remaining part of the roof was a lattice of rotted boards.  One of the main support beams inside the barn was broken and wretchedly misshapen.  Inside, the wooden flooring had collapsed.

Rounds of wire piled eight feet high had to be removed from the barn before restoration begins.


The barn offered little resistance when rain fell or when wind slid through the patina skeleton, but it did offer just enough protection for nesting birds.


House wrens nested in the cavity caused by the break in the support beam.  I recall watching wrens darting in and out of the open roof.  Once the parents filled their peeping fledglings with grasshoppers, beetles, and other small insects, they rested on the beam.  The sun made their tiny wheat-colored bodies glow like drops of honey.


Though wrens found a perfect foundation to build their nest, our builders were not so fortunate and had to search for many materials elsewhere.  The barn became “the ultimate recycling project.” Components for restoration came from the rickety farmhouse on the property and from old barns around eastern Oregon.  The windows were taken from an abandoned late nineteenth century horse stable.  Eight doors were constructed using old barn wood and, when possible, period hinges were recycled from historic buildings.


The outside of the new “old” barn is now complete.  Though much interior work still needs to be done.


When I stand back and consider the condition the barn was in when we started and the state of the barn now, all I can say is “wow.”  Much quality work has been accomplished in a short period of time—a testament to Bruce’s vision and our builders’ talents.


24 thoughts on “The Barn — Wow!

  1. Good Monring Sher!

    What an acommplishment! This is a beautiful sturdy looking barn! In really a short time to have this completed! The two of you must be enjoying all that you have invisioned thus far and to see it become a reality with this property that you have encountered on! How incredibly exciting! Oh what ever happened to that adorable little black donkey that fell in love with you?! I so hope you brought him home!! 🙂

    1. Hi Mary–I know you are curious… I did not get the little black donkey. John Schriener said I should check and see about other breeders in Oregon, because his donkeys are kinda fat and old… and I decided to take his advice… That little donkey liked me, but you will see that donkeys really love people in general, and it may not have been all about me as much as the donkey liking people. I did find TWO young–yearling donkeys from a farm in Salem… I got them because I really wanted athletic donkeys that could be trained to pull a cart! Thanks for asking–I will post more on this later with some photos… Sher

  2. Move in, not move it! (Although I’m sure you two could manage that, given how far all the parts have come.)

    1. Hey Valerie– we can’t quite move in yet, but soon we should be able to spend more time out there, which will be very, very nice.

    1. Thanks Joan– you will have to stop in the next time you drive through here. It would be fun to show it to you in person. 🙂

  3. What a wonderful project for you both to be involved with. I’m sure it has been most satisfying for all of you, and a great way to adapt to your new digs! congratulations! Judi

    1. I took some more photos yesterday, and as time passes the photos really should help folks envision the environment out there. But agreed, it is hard to see how big the barn is. The barn is a smaller barn for this region.

  4. It is so beautiful, Sher. You must be very proud of this work. I have enjoyed following along with its progress. I wish you many splendid new memories here. I want to hear much more about your animals as well as their wild neighbors! 🙂
    Leese XXOO

  5. It looks great and I loved hearing about the recycling of old hinges, wood, windows, etc. It’ll make it very special.

  6. When I look a the before & after pics of the old barn – wow! what a transformation! Hope the wrens have forgiven you for all the noise and disturbance.

    1. Alison– the wrens may have forgiven me, but their nesting cavity is gone, because we repaired the beam. They will need to find another cranny. We did carve out two barn owls holes in the side of the barn– way up high, so the owls may come in and nest once all the construction noise dies down.

      Thanks for dropping by. Sher

    1. Hey there– let’s just say the outside of the barn, right now, looks much better than the inside. First dance? Late spring 2012! We will need a banjo player –hint–hint.

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