View Full Version : Old Lofts

May. 2, 2011, 12:17 PM
We're moving into our first home in a few weeks & I can't wait!
The barn is pretty old (not sure, but house is 1860, so...) and definitely needs some major work before it's horse-friendly to today's standard.

I'm so curious about these old hay lofts & how they actually *worked*, so does anyone know?

Loft Left (http://designes.ca/images/other/loft_left.jpg)
Loft Right (http://designes.ca/images/other/loft_right.jpg)

How were you supposed to store the hay in here?
How do you get those last bales out of the bottom? Climb in?
(how am I going to get all the old hay OUT? :winkgrin:)

We're going to take down the hay loft area above the back over the "horse" area because the ceiling is too low, so I'm going to have to figure this or something else out for hay storage.

Layout (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/layout.jpg)

The hay storage area is raised on boards above the dirt level so it's higher then the rest of the barn.

We're using it as a mixed-animal barn, so the cow section will stay for a small beef herd and I think we'll put the stalls in the "open" area.

We may also open the right side of the hay-loft up to cow portion and out to an over-hang next to the pasture to provide a run-in, OR we may keep that for round-bales; that's something I'll have to look into after we move.

I'd love to hear what other people have done if you've renovated an old barn like this one!

May. 2, 2011, 02:27 PM
Hmm...those walls are an interesting addition. In my old barn (1817...not a single nail in the place except for what's holding on the roof!) you just climb up the ladder and VOILA! there's another floor. And you can just sweep the hay off the floors at the end of the spring down onto the next level. Easy peasy.

Maybe just remove the walls? You certainly don't need walls to hold in your hay, it's not going to go anywhere...

May. 2, 2011, 02:40 PM
You don't say how deep those lofts are. And it would appear that those notched logs are keeping the wall from moving inward. Most lofts are braced to keep the weight of the hay from pushing the walls out.

Loose hay was forked into those old bays from the center aisle. There may still be the remains of an over head track from which at one time hay tongs hung down, in order to stack the hay when it got too high to fork up.
I'm not sure how it worked exactly, as in, I have the concept, but wouldn't like to have to figure out how to do it.

At the end of the year, when the stack got low and when you got to the bottom of the bay, you climbed in and forked hay out.

Some barns had a chute to send the hay down, with others it was more or less on the same level, and the hay was just hauled from one side of the barn to the other.

May. 2, 2011, 02:45 PM
Don't know in your barn, but some old barns that we stored the hay in the loft, we had a base that lifted with pulleys and we loaded the base with bales, pulled it up and unloaded and stacked.
Some times, to get to the back of the loft, we had a chain of people passing the bales up and up and up.

If we were storing loose hay, not baled, we did it by the pitchforkfull.
Veeery labor intensive to store your year's supply of hay that way.

Today, you can buy "elevators", motor driven chains that will lift the bales up into the loft and across it to where you want to put it and all you have to do is stack it.

I think that, with the danger of fire, I would sure stack most of the hay supply on the bottom or preferably in another building from your stock, if you can.

You don't have to use the loft for hay, really.;)

May. 2, 2011, 04:39 PM
Very cool old barn! But those are not "lofts". Lofts are like a second floor, in my old barn they kept the pigs in a space like that! or the calves.

In most barns there would be boards across from the outer wall to the beam where that wooden ladder goes up (right picture) - so you'd climb that ladder and you'd be in the loft. In many barns there would be a hanging loft wayy above the center aisle. You access that via a ladder from the first loft. (you can see that ladder on the far wall of the R picture.

You either stack it by hand - toss the bales from the trailer/truck to the loft and stack, or you have an elevator. You get it down via gravity.

It looks like the lofts were taken out?? Hard to see on the left side.

They wouldn't have wasted all that vertical space.

It shouldn't be too hard to put down a new loft floor and use that for hay storage.

May. 2, 2011, 04:48 PM
Very cool old barn! But those are not "lofts". Lofts are like a second floor, in my old barn they kept the pigs in a space like that! or the calves.

Wait...I thought in "Loft Right" we WERE looking at a second floor? As in, the picture taker was on the second floor looking out to the ladder going further up or back down to the ground floor?

If not, and I have completely confused myself with the picture, then you're right, those aren't "lofts." They're just sectioned off storage areas.

May. 2, 2011, 05:28 PM
There is a step from the cow-area to the hay-storage area
Step-up (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/step-up.jpg)
So it's a floor & a half?

There are lofts as well, I guess this is more of just a storage area then anything else.

Here is the layout picture again (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/layout.jpg)
More old barn photos for fun:

Cows (old dairy)
Cow area (http://designes.ca/images/other/cow1.jpg)
From the far left end

Manure machine (http://designes.ca/images/other/cow2.jpg)
From the right

Hay storage
Mid-loft (http://designes.ca/images/other/loft_center.jpg)
You can get up into the hay lot over the low-end of the barn from the ladder at the back.

I wonder if there was an upper level there that was removed? Interesting thought!!

There is also a little window-less room on the right (center of the barn), I would guess you used that to store grain.

low-end loft (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/low-end-loft.jpg)
Short end of the low-end-loft (so towards the left)

The hay rope-thingy is still here (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/rope.jpg)not sure it's attached to anything on the other end

Open Area (Machine storage?)
Open Area (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/openarea.jpg)
Could also have had other animals in it.
That is the farthest right in the barn (if you were in the barn towards the road/house) and this is where we want to put in the new stalls

Middle of the "open area" (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/middle-open-area.jpg)

The Middle of the barn (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/farside-openarea.jpg)

Loft over the open area - (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/openloft.jpg) you can't see it from this angle, but the floor definitely needs to be fixed!!!

The pony stalls :lol: (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/stalls1.jpg)

My mare's temporary stall (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/stalls2.jpg) until we get the ones built in the open area (needs a *little* clean up first!!!)

May. 2, 2011, 05:55 PM
If not, and I have completely confused myself with the picture, then you're right, those aren't "lofts." They're just sectioned off storage areas.

I don't know if this helps at all
Far left outside (http://www.designes.ca/images/other/farleft_outside.jpg)

So I was standing on the floor in the hay storage area, but it really drops off on either side (from a 5'2" perspective). This picture is of the outside of that hay storage area, the roof of the over-hang is even with the floor in the hay-storage area, and the rest of the barn is even with the ground.

May. 3, 2011, 06:12 AM
I keep looking at your photos and thinking how much fun it would be to redo that barn! I can't wait to see work in progress photos and finished photos.

May. 3, 2011, 10:13 AM
Yes, it's going to be a lot of fun - but I'd suggest purchasing stock in Tylenol back-pain right before we move in :lol:. Wonder if I can buy it by the crate load?

The old manure machine is hilarious, but we've determined the atv is going to be a little more useful :D (plus the big hooks that hold it in run right in front of the "horse stalls"about 6' up *faint!*). I love all that old character, it's in the house too, I don't think the barn has seen animals in at least 4 years, and even then, there haven't been too many changes since the barn was built early 1900s :).

May. 3, 2011, 10:22 AM
Be very careful and wear a mask when you remove the old hay. If it been there for a long time it's got to be very dusty. I remember a long time ago hearing of someone who got a very bad respirtory infection claimed to be from cleaning out an old loft.

May. 3, 2011, 11:18 AM
What a beautiful barn!

To my only semi-educated eye the barn looks older than 1860. I have two barns, one built in 1845 that I converted for horses, and one built in 1790 (used for storage). The 1790 barn also has that half wall; in our case, with no way to get into the area behind the wall without climbing over. Not sure what it was used for.

May. 3, 2011, 11:48 AM
Be very careful and wear a mask when you remove the old hay...

I'm going to buy a full respirator, especially since the barn is current home to a number of raccoons :S (not too worried about the actual 'coons, I'm sure the dogs will make them feel VERY unwelcome very quickly).

I'm just not sure what I'm going to do with all that old nasty hay! The prop is less then 5 acres, 4 fenced for paddock so there isn't too much space for a big compost so I may have to have it hauled off somewhere.

...The 1790 barn also has that half wall; in our case, with no way to get into the area behind the wall without climbing over. Not sure what it was used for.

That's really interesting! I've been talking to a few people over on an old house forum and although we think the house was originally just a log home (now turned into a very big country kitchen) the consensus is the rest of the home was added in the early 1900s.

That's when the dairy was supposed to have been operational in the barn (1900s) but it's quite possible the barn started with the "open area" then the rest was added on later - since that part has the rock foundation all the way around :).

Now... who is going to kill me when we paint the barn? :lol:

May. 3, 2011, 04:39 PM
You will be able to find out at the town zoning office what has been on your property and its history.

I also found the history of my and other people's property as to owners and what was on the property at the town library (my house was built 1649, well bought in 1649 by Able Chittenden, who bought the lot with a house on it).

Anyway, yes, your barn looks older than mid 1800's. The levels look more like some 1700 barns I've seen - it is going to be a blast going through that place -look for old treasures, wrought iron fixtures, bottles, tools, some of these can be very valuable. Then, when you clean it up and get it together, you can put the tools in the barn on 'display' somewhere.

You can have someone who knows the history of your area come and look at it.

Great fun, great barn!

May. 3, 2011, 04:41 PM
The mortar for that foundation will help you date it. A local historian can help you identify it, including the style of walls built.