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.