Do You Believe in Ghosts? ~ Barn Renovation Part 5


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Do You Believe in Ghosts? In this installment of our barn restoration story, we describe some paranormal activity we’ve had out at our barn! Crazy but true story.

Do You Believe in Ghosts? ~ Barn Renovation Part 5

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?

old barn sitting on stilts after being moved

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:

old barn sitting on stilts after being moved
old barn sitting on stilts after being moved

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…

old barn sitting on stilts after being moved

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.

barn in the process of being repaired

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.

barn after the fire

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.

Click this link to rest of the story about moving our barn restoration efforts.

Read the rest of the story here.

Getting the barn ready to move

Moving the barn

Pulling the barn to the new foundation

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. What a great story… I can only imagine how much your “free” barn cost. What a relief that only a wee portion was actually burned.

    It was wise to introduce yourself to Charlie, as he was apparently trying to get your attention. I wonder why he’s out there on the land. Were there buildings in that area at one time? Maybe some day he’ll tell you or one of your kids more about himself.

    1. There did used to be buildings there. They were all destroyed a number of years (before we bought it) except for the silo. When we asked the excavator why he left the silo, his response: “The ghost had to have somewhere to live.”

  2. Love the story and yes I believe in Charlie. We have a little “friend” a girl, we named Pandora, living with us – we built in 1966 and she has been with us ever since. She does no harm to us, although has scared the bejeebers out of us once in awhile. She doesn’t like strangers to enter and makes them think twice about coming back for a visit. The Barn is beautiful and I am glad you saved her.

        1. Hi Karla, we had to research this, but it our barn roof is painted steel! Are you working on a project? 🙂 Michelle

  3. The barn looks beautiful! I just love the traditional shape to it.
    I didn’t give much credit to ghosts until the Christmas season after my Grandma died in 2007. My daughter and I were making krumkakke cookies with the krumkakke iron my Grandma had left to me and I remember thinking so strongly that I really wish she was there to share the experience with us, as I had with her when I was a little girl. At that very moment, a painted German wooden plate that was displayed on our mantel practically jumped off of its stand and clattered down. It was the same plate I had once brought to her from a trip to Germany! I’m pretty sure she was letting me know that she was, indeed, there and sharing the experience with us!

  4. Great story! I would love to remodel an old barn, but yes, I do believe in ghosts and the first thing I would think about is the spirits associated with the property/ building. I’m a nut that way 😛 New follower from Simple Lives blog hop!

    1. Hi Jen, we think about that a lot…I need to get more information on this man! 🙂 Thanks for following. Heading over to your blog!

  5. Michelle, I am so glad you introduced yourself. How fun, wonderful, interesting and goosebumps producing to have Charlie living in your barn. He sounds like he is a bit of a practical joker. You will have to leave him an occassional gift or acknowledgement.

    My Dad’s property has a lot of unseen friends. He rather enjoys them. He is 80 now so I imagine, at some point, he will join them. 😉

    1. What’s a suitable gift for Charlie? I’d love to hear a story about your Dad’s unseen friends! 😉

  6. I’m glad you and Charlie seem to be at peace with each other. Sometime I’ll tell you my other ghost stories. It was fun reading this update though–happy it worked for you.

    1. Thanks, Stacee! And thanks for the suggestion to talk to him. I’m sure that’s what did it!! And I’d love to hear your other stories one of these days.

  7. Love that story! Yes, I do believe in ghosts/spirits — to what extent I am not sure, but I do watch those ghost shows on occasion with fascination. Sounds like Charlie just wanted a little acknowledgement of his presence. 🙂

  8. Great story, Michelle, and yes, I too believe in ghosts. I had three interesting experiences with a ghost. But they were each very different. One was just a fun mischief maker and I had a good laugh after realized I was being pranked by a ghost with a sense of humor. The other one was not very friendly and trashed a locked school room as I was walking past. The third didn’t interact with me personally but looked to do harm to five of my class mates after they summoned it with a oui-ja board. This all took place in a very old building with a lot of history. Originally built as a school, it was used for a period of time as a makeshift hospital for soldiers. Obviously many died there, and I believe (and I am not the only one), that some have not been able to move on and have remained there.

    Introducing yourself was a good idea, and maybe Charlie would like it if you said ‘Hi’ once in a while and thanked him for his continuing care. Just don’t get too close, you don’t want Charlie Wacker to get possessive.

    1. Goosebumps… Ack! Thanks for your comment. I really enjoy reading what everyone has to say about this topic.

  9. I also did not believe in ghosts until two of my daughters started working at a local fast food place that was said to be haunted by a ghost. I was skeptical, but both would come home time after time, telling stories of things being moved in the back room, dishes falling, “someone” banging around in the back room, on and on.

    All the workers there know about this ghost and all have seen what “she” does. No one is frightened of her as she mostly just messes up things or undoes things they have just done.

    Loved the story!!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mrs. Z! We’ve had some mysterious falling dishes at my house, too…so weird!

  10. Your barn is just beautiful. Your story, well it gave me goosebumps in a flash and then more on top of the original batch. LOL

    I wanted to say hello and introduce myself (I entered your Patagonia giveaway.) Your blog is wonderful and I shall be back. 🙂

    My ghost story: I lived in a rental for four years that I believed to be haunted. Very shortly after I moved in, very very late at night, the pocket door to the bathroom in the master bedroom slammed shut and locked itself. Of course I nearly leapt out of my skin! I ran down the hall to wake my 18 year old son.

    He didn’t believe me. Sure enough, the locking mechanism (which could only be locked from inside of the bathroom, an old, heavy, brass thing that needed to be turned 180 to cause the clasp to catch the locking bar) was firmly locked. We went outside to the window (armed, this was the middle of the night) and it was closed and locked. Oh yes, we did indeed freak out.

    We had to completely unscrew the brass lock mechanism and remove it from the door to get it open. The door … Solid wood, heavy, and slid into the wall to open and close. No way that thing closed by itself.

    I definitely didn’t like thinking about it and then I started hearing the tinkle of silverware and music, low conversations …the sounds of a friendly dinner gathering — this I would hear once a week or so as I drifted off to sleep.

    The door closed several times on its own during that first six months or so that I lived there. I finally asked the landlord about it and she told me that the elderly woman who’d owned the house for forty years had died there (in the master bedroom where I slept!) I spoke to a friend who told me to go sit on the toilet and speak to the woman and tell her she was scaring me and to please stop. I did. I sat there on that toilet and spoke out loud to that empty room. After that, there was never another incident with the door but the dinner-party sounds continued regularly until I moved out.

    Of course I had friends who insisted the house must be on a slant or there must be some other explanation but I knew there was not.

    1. YOUR story gave me goosebumps!! It’s crazy. Truly, I never believed in ghosts before. Now I’m pretty convinced they’re there! Thank you so much for your nice comments about my blog. I’m glad you enjoy it!

  11. I have been raised by a West Indian father so ghost/voodoo anything like that was talked about a lot. I have personally had about 5 or 6 experiences with ghost. They have all been pleasant and not harmful. My oldest daughter lived in an apartment with a poltergeist, he was summoned with a oujii board by some friends of hers. He set the bathroom on fire, broke bottles without moving them, locking doors etc. I advised her to move out as soon as possible because the spirit was “too” strong. She did and I don’t know if he is still there. We have been taught to have respect for the spirit world and not to meddle where we didn’t know what we were doing. I also have a great-great aunt that was a healer. I cannot watch those ghost shows because most of the ghost have evil spirits, or harmful and I know ghost to be true so the shows freak me out.

  12. So fun to read about your barn moving. About 19 years ago my parents bought a beautiful, drafty smelly dairy barn, a machine shed and 12 acres. My husband remodeled the barn, putting in new window, insulation, shake exterior and in one side of the barn in place of the stantions he built offices, a restroom a small kitchenette and a reception area. My parents moved their business in. The community was so happy that one of the old barns–known for some really fun barn dances had been saved. They manufactured in the main part of the barn and my kids rode their bikes, roller bladed, played hockey, had a basketball standard and built forts and projects around the workers after school. When my parents sold a couple of acres behind the barn the road had to be brought up to code for width and accessibility by the fire department so the old machine shed had to go. But my husband and a friend decided to work together to save it. They lifted it off the ground, slide large logs under it, cross braced it, then cut it in half with a chain saw. Using a huge machine they carefully drug on half of the shed to our property, although, at times I was sure that it was going to twist and collapse into a thousand pieces, so I recorded it on video, if nothing else, we could maybe win $10,ooo to build a new one from America’s Funniest Home Videos. It arrive in it’s first spot pretty smoothly, but the second half had to cut through several neighbor’s properties, power lines needed to be raised as it crossed a road, but it also arrive safe and mostly sound. The cool old machine shed with old growth cedar and fir board and poles will live another hundred years serving as our own little barn. It is fun to preserve the history of our community. A couple years after saving our barns we had a very trecherous snowstorm with feet of snow then heavy freezing rain. I looked out from my second story window afterward and could see 6 old barns that had collapsed due to the weight of the snow. I smiled to know that ours were save, sound and secure. Have fun with your project!

  13. I love reading your barn story. Two things to consider as our board of directors continues to work for saving all barns — the iowa barn foundation has grant money, and the state of iowa has tax credits. I think I have heard of Charlie Wacker. I’ll try to remember if I have details. I don’t even live close to you, so seeing the name definitely piques my interest.

  14. Wow…I believe I believe I believe in ghosts! That story is CRAZY! I cannot believe it wasn’t even very damaged. They say when you start construction on something, it either brings them out, or pisses them off! Thank God he seems to be pretty laid back….and a helping ghost! Good luck, and God Bless!