When I last left off with our barn renovation efforts, we had just pulled the barn from its old home a quarter mile away to its new foundation on our property. When I look back on these old pictures, I cannot for the life of me, figure out what the heck we were thinking. Does this really look like something that ought to be saved?
At its old home, the barn was sunk down into the ground. Picture a garden basement, if you will. We wanted the barn to stick up out of the ground further. So we had to build it up quite a high compared to how it had been originally. The home movers jacked it up with their blocks and my husband built temporary supports. It looked like this:
Then, the moving company picked their support beams and jacks up, and the barn sat there. For a long time. It had taken all of our money to get the barn to our property and we had to wait a while before we had money again to start rebuilding. We joked a lot that when we had the time to work on the barn, we had no money. And when we had the money to work it, we had no time. It was a vicious cycle.
We moved the barn in August 2009. It sat like the next picture until the spring of 2010 – except without that half of the tin roof or the dormer. I can’t believe I can’t find a picture of the barn as it looked all winter. I know I must have one…
Anyway, here’s where it gets a little freaky. When we bought the property we moved the barn to, we had no idea it was haunted. After we bought the 5 acres though, we heard from person after person that we had bought haunted land. Of course, we just laughed. Really? Ghosts? But our ghost even had a name: Charlie Wacker. And we heard stories of his antics and practical jokes. Vivid stories. It was a little weird. And so many people told us over and over: “that place is haunted.” I tried not to let it bother me.
But back to the barn – 2009/2010 was a super windy winter. The barn was obviously very poorly supported yet it stood. In the spring, our crew went back to work. They started with the tin roof. Getting a tight roof was the highest priority because without a roof, everything would continue to rot – but they only got half the roof on before they decided walls might be a wise decision for the structural integrity of the barn. My husband decided a dormer would be nice so he could look out of the barn and see our future house – it will be built on the east side of the barn. So he built a dormer. Then they went to work building the barn side walls. We debated about using tin or wood for the walls, but we eventually settled on wood.
My husband, his parents, and our construction crew worked for a solid week building new walls. They finished up on a windy Friday afternoon. We had several little brush fires burning near the barn that we carefully put out before we left. I went home first and my husband stayed longer to make sure everything was tidied up and the fires were under control, and then he finally came home around 6:30-7:00 pm. We had a late supper and were sitting around talking when the phone rang. Our neighbors (the former owners of the barn) called to tell us that our barn was on fire and burning.
I can’t even begin to describe the sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach. We had paid quite a lot of money to have the barn moved to our property. We had just worked on it non-stop for the last couple of weeks, and it finally looked like it might have a future. We had not insured it. And it was so windy. We knew, without a doubt, that the barn would be pile of rubble and ashes when we got there. And we felt so sick.
We loaded the kids in the van, drove to pick up one of our crew (his great-grandfather had originally built the barn), and headed out to assess the damage. When we got there, we were shocked to see a line of fire trucks – probably 10 trucks lined the dirt road out to our barn. Our town fire department was there and so was the next closet town’s department as well but only a couple trucks were actually at the barn. It was dark, cold, and windy. But the barn was still there. In fact, it suffered very little damage, all things considered. Only the south side burned and it had just started burning the support beams when it was extinguished.
We were later shocked to find out that the fire department went first to the wrong property and ended up taking 45 minutes after the initial 911 call to get to our property. They heard our last name and headed immediately out to my husband’s parents’ farm. Not that many people knew we owned our land. And it took the fire department 45 minutes to figure out where the fire was and get there.
Of course, after people heard about the fire, many told us that the ghost, Charlie Wacker, was mad at us for moving the barn out there. On the contrary- we felt very lucky and credited Charlie for saving our barn!
Since then, we’ve made a ton of progress on the barn. You can see a pretty current picture at the top of my blog page. We sort of forgot about Charlie Wacker until very recently.
March has been barn month for us. My husband, his parents, and our crew again, have been hard at work finishing the mow so we can move our home building / remodeling company offices out there. One day I went to the barn to see the progress and Dan (my husband) said the guys were freaked out because the big overhead doors kept opening and closing – on their own – and a lot. I looked at Dan- I was surprised to hear this. My husband is not one to buy into ghosts and such, but he said it was really freaky. He was there and saw it too and said there was no reason those doors should be randomly opening and closing like they had been. I was officially freaked out.
A couple days later I mentioned the ghost to a friend of mine while we were chatting on the phone. She told me in all seriousness that we needed to introduce ourselves to Charlie Wacker. I thought it was a bit strange, but you know what? I told my husband and he did! The next time I was at the barn, I also spoke up and introduced myself, too. I felt a little strange talking out loud to “no one” in the barn, but I said Hi to Charlie Wacker. I introduced myself and thanked him for saving our barn from the fire. I told him he was welcome to stay in our barn and keep it safe. And I asked him to please make sure the doors were shut when everyone was gone.
Since then do you know how many times those big overhead doors have opened and closed on their own? Not once.
So, I’m curious. Do you believe in ghosts? Because I never did before, but I’m starting to now.
If you’d like to read the rest of the story about moving our barn, it’s here.