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.
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.