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We’re Living in a Barn!!

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  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. 🙂

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.  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  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. 🙂

Michael Maddox

Sunday 5th of January 2014

The great wide, open spaces are great.

[email protected] There Baked That

Tuesday 23rd of July 2013

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 :)

Michelle Marine

Tuesday 23rd of July 2013

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. :-)


Monday 1st of July 2013

Congratulations!! How exciting is that? Living out of a barn while you build your dream home. Hope you plan to stay for a while. :) 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!


Wednesday 3rd of July 2013

Ugh. I know. I'm prepared to live in the barn for about a year. Beyond that...well, there might be some problems. ;-)

Melissa @ Living A Frugal Life

Saturday 29th of June 2013

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.

Sandra @ The Sensible Mom

Saturday 29th of June 2013

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! :)


Saturday 29th of June 2013

Thanks, Sandra! It will be something to share, for sure. :-)

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As an Amazon Associate Michelle Marine, SimplifyLiveLove, earns from qualifying purchases.