BEEF Daily

Musings While Tinning The Barn Roof


Preserving a barn is an investment in the next generation.

I don’t think there is anything more symbolic in agriculture than an old red barn. Take a drive through the countryside and you’ll see barns scattered along the miles of cornfields and pastures. Some barns stand proudly, painted a bright red with bold white trim; others look tired, the roof sagging and the red paint faded and chipping off the rotting boards.

To me, a barn represents the state of the farm or ranch itself. If well maintained, it will stand strong through the generations, serving as the hub of the business and a place where families gather to work with their cattle and house winter hay. If ignored, a barn will quickly fall apart, as heavy snow and rain beat down on the roof and sacrifice the integrity of the structure.

Over the weekend, we started tackling the much-needed project of tinning our barn roof. The wooden shingles are rotting, and the roof leaks whenever we get rain. Our barn is the center of our operation; it would be tough to replace or do without. So, we purchased some tin, built some ladders and levees to stand on and started nailing the metal to the roof.

It’s going to be a slow and tedious project, but I pondered the importance of saving this barn. By strengthening the structure, we are also, in turn, strengthening our family business. I’m the third generation in the Nolz family to live on this ranch, and I hope I’m not the last. And, just like it’s important to make sure the barn will stand strong for future generations, it’s equally important to make sure the family will stand strong through ranch transitions.

Do you have a succession plan in place? Have you had discussions with family members involved in the business about what happens when the older generation passes away? Don’t wait until the barn is tired and sagging; start planning now for the next phase in your operation.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

debd (not verified)
on Jul 10, 2012

During the Dust Bowl and Great Depression in our part of the country, many unpainted barns were painted red by a metropolitan insurance company that bought up farm after farm as investment for its mostly urban stockholders. Scores of young men and women left our county during the early 1940s and went north to work in factories during the years of the second World War, and many of them saved their money in order to return to buy back their family farms. During the 1950s, as farmers prospered and the land returned to family ownership, most of the barns were painted black, to show that the farms were no longer "in the red." To this day, many of the barns that have not been destroyed in tornadoes or fallen during the large expansion of row-crop farming remain black. Three new members constitute the sixth generation recently born to this family of people that have struggled to keep and care for this land since 1897.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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