We’re Living in a Barn!!


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

On our path to a more sustainable life, we are going to be living in a barn while we build our super insulated passive house. Here’s a little bit more about that decision.

We’re Living in a Barn!!

Sorry for the radio silence. Life has been seriously crazy this summer and I have not been able to spend time on my computer – which is both good and bad! Sometimes I feel like my computer is my life and it’s nice to disconnect from it every now again. It’s ironic that I disconnected right after an awesome blogging conference in Cincinnati, but that’s how it goes, right?

life in a barn

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that we are finally moving out to our barn! We have been planning to move there for quite some time, because we’re getting ready to build our dream house, a super insulated passive house which will need no furnace even in the brutally cold Iowa winters. But the new house isn’t started yet so moving out to the country hasn’t really been possible. A couple months ago, though, we decided Β to bite the bullet and get out to the country –> house or no house. We are quite done with living in town and we seem to do a lot of things because we think they’ll make a good story. πŸ™‚

farm kids in a wagon of mulch

We moved to Iowa in 2006 in large part because we wanted to raise farm kids. We decided it would be impossible to raise farm kids in the suburbs, and suburbs were pretty much our reality due to active duty Air Force life. So we moved to my hubs’ hometown in rural Eastern Iowa and became self employed. Since 2006, though, we’ve lived in town. Granted it’s a small town, and we had a small acreage to play at, but town life is town life. And we want to be in the country. So we just moved into our barn. If you haven’t read the story, we were given a free barn in 2009 and moved it to 5 acres we own with the help of a professional large structure moving company. The barn was days from being burned down, and it most likely should have been burned down.

barn house
Less than a year after we moved it, the barn almost burned down again in an accidental fire {before we had insurance on it}. That was a huge scare and we got insurance really quickly after that! Since then, we’ve spent the last 3 years rebuilding the barn, and at Christmas time in 2012, we finally finished the upstairs into 3 offices and a showroom area for our home construction / remodeling company.

This summer, we decided the barn would make a good temporary home, after hemming and hawing about moving far, far away because of the potential for a nuclear power plant 5 miles away. Β News of the nuclear power plant was really hard on me. We decided to move to Iowa for clean country living and all my research said living within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant can be quite dangerous and have pretty bad health consequences. Additionally, our county has the dirtiest air in all of Iowa and our well water is so contaminated with nitrates that we can’t drink it. After I got word of the nuclear power plant, I told my husband we should get out of Iowa and move somewhere far, far away. That’s easier said than done, though, because we’ve spent the last 6 years building a business and investing in our 5 acres and barn. And really, what area doesn’t have something bad located not too far away?

We actually decided to go ahead and build our dream home a couple of weeks before we got news that the nuclear power plant will NOT be built! YAY YAY YAY YAY!! And Β so we’ve spent the last few weeks moving out to our 5 acres! Moving with 4 kids has been a huge challenge. We’ve been moving into progressively smaller homes for the last few years without getting rid of many possessions. Now we’re in our 1200 square foot barn office. I also have a huge kitchen/laundry room/bathroom downstairs in the barn in addition to the 1200 square feet upstairs, so there is actually more room than we had in our last home if you count the kitchen. However, it’s not a “proper” kitchen space, and part of it is occupied by our construction shop, so it will be quite challenging trying to work out of there. Once I clean up our mess, I will share some before and after pictures.

For now, I am breathing a sigh of relief. Our old house is cleaned out and rented. Every single thing we own is out at the barn. My garden is out at the barn. And the barn is in the country. We are no longer living in town! It will be so much easier to tend my garden and raise farm kids now. And while this might be one of the crazier things we have ever done, after spending three nights in the barn, I’m happy to shout: “I’M LIVING IN A BARN!” My barn is a tragic, tragic mess, but we’re there.

So give me your best “Were you born in a barn joke.” I’m collecting them. πŸ™‚

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.

You May Also Like:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Our dream is to buy some land here in Oklahoma and build our dream house. My husband has been doing so much research on grants and things for farms lately. I am excited to follow along on your journey!

    1. It’s taken us a long time to make this happen. And after a windy storm the other night and no basement…I’m a little nervous about lack of storm shelter. But, we’re still really, really happy to be in the country. Good luck with your own search, Kristy!

    1. Oh my gosh, Elizabeth. You have no idea. πŸ™‚ So many of our stories start with, soooo there we were… I really need to share more on the blog.

    1. Thanks, Marty! We are pretty darn excited. Now, if I can find spot for everything…we’ll be all set.

  2. Congratulations!!! So glad you are out there. πŸ™‚ I never made it out to collect mulberries. πŸ™

    1. You know, I didn’t even look at the tree while we were there. I hope there will still be mulberries left on it next week as I haven’t had any either. I do think the black raspberries are about ready though!!

  3. I’m so happy you finally live out in the country! πŸ™‚ The only barn joke I have (isn’t original) but my mom used to say when me and my brother left the door open, some variation of “What barn did you grow up in?” LOL

    1. LOL! Well, it is a bit harder to close the doors at the barn. I do that from the few short days we’ve been living there. πŸ™‚

  4. Well, my daughter wasn’t born in a barn, but she was almost born in a stock tank! We had a Home/water birth in rural southwest colorado. (I had to get out of the water at the last minute because I had merconium (sp) in my water.) MY midwife is married to an elder from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and we lived on 10 acres across the road from the reservation. No fancy water tubs there! Stock tank was perfectly fine! Infact, now that I am in the city I have seen the fancy water tubs and think a stock tank is sturdier!! I fully recommend it! So, for number five, Michelle…

    1. Haha, Jai! No thank you, on number 5 – 4 is my limit. All of my kids were also born at home and the last 2 were born in water. Too bad we weren’t living in the barn then. I know a local midwife who is also a big fan of the stock tank… πŸ˜‰ My oldest also had meconium. Very scary!! Can’t wait to meet you!!

  5. Your family is amazing, Melissa. What a story your kids are going to have to tell their kids. I love it. I can’t wait to read and see your family’s barn experiences right here on your blog.

    And congrats on moving forward to get your dream home built! That’s fantastic! πŸ™‚

  6. I agree with Sandra. What a great legacy you are making for your family.

    Congrats on following your dreams. I SO want to do this with my family some day. I have always wanted a farm family.

  7. Congratulations!! How exciting is that? Living out of a barn while you build your dream home. Hope you plan to stay for a while. πŸ™‚ Sounds like you have it fixed up quite nicely and just being out of town will be nice, I’m sure. Looking forward to watching the progress on the new house!

    1. Ugh. I know. I’m prepared to live in the barn for about a year. Beyond that…well, there might be some problems. πŸ˜‰

  8. This is so cool, I love your story! I have always wanted to move our family to a really small town and just enjoy the simplicity of it. I’ve lived in Waterloo my whole life, not so much of a small town feeling here lol πŸ™‚

    1. I have never been to Waterloo. Small towns are interesting. I’ve lived in huge cities and small towns, gotta say I prefer the small town, but I do miss the big city culture. πŸ™‚