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The Barn

Category: History and Breeds

The farm barn, next to the farm house, is the most important structure
of the farm itself, in the Northern and Middle States; and even at the
South and Southwest, where barns are less used, they are of more
importance in the economy of farm management than is generally
understood. Indeed, to the eyes of a person of taste, a farm or
plantation appears incomplete, without good barn accommodations, as much
as without good household appointments--and without them, no
agricultural establishment can be complete in all its proper economy.

The most thorough barn structures, perhaps, to be seen in the United
States, are those of the State of Pennsylvania, built by the German
farmers of the lower and central counties. They are large, and expensive
in their construction; and, in a strictly economical point of view, are,
perhaps, more costly than is required. Yet, there is a substantial
durability about them, that is exceedingly satisfactory, and, where the
pecuniary ability of the farmer will admit, they may well furnish models
for imitation.

In the structure of the barn, and in its interior accommodation, much
will depend upon the branches of agriculture to which the farm is
devoted. A farm cultivated in grain chiefly requires but little room for
stabling purposes. Storage for grain in the sheaf, and granaries, will
require its room; while a stock farm requires a barn with extensive hay
storage, and stables for its cattle, horses, and sheep, in all climates
which do not admit of such stocks living through the winter in the
field, as is the case in the great grazing districts west of the
Alleghanies. Again, there are wide districts of country where a mixed
husbandry of grain and stock is pursued, which require barns and
outbuildings accommodating both.

It may be well here to remark that many designers of barns, sheds, and
other outbuildings for the accommodation of farm stock, have indulged in
fanciful arrangements for the comfort and convenience of animals, which
are so complicated that when constructed, as they sometimes are, the
practical, common-sense farmer will not use them; and by reason of the
learning which is required for their use, they are altogether unsuitable
for the treatment and use which they generally receive from those who
have the daily care of the stock for which they are intended, and for
the rough usage which they experience from the animals themselves. A
very pretty and plausible arrangement of stabling, feeding, and all the
other requirements of a barn establishment may be thus got up by an
ingenious theorist at the fireside, which will work charmingly as he
dilates upon its good qualities, untried; but, which, when subjected to
experiment, will be utterly worthless for practical use. There can be
no doubt that the simplest plan of construction, consistent with an
economical expenditure of the material of food for the consumption of
stock, is by far the most preferable.

Another item to be considered in this connection, is the comparative
value of the stock, the forage fed to them, and the labor expended in
feeding and taking care of them. To illustrate: Suppose a farm to lie in
the vicinity of a large town or city. Its value is, perhaps, a hundred
dollars an acre. The hay cut upon it is worth fifteen dollars a ton, at
the barn, and straw and coarse grains in proportion, and hired labor ten
or twelve dollars a month. Consequently, the manager of this farm should
use all the economy in his power, by the aid of cutting-boxes and other
machinery, to make the least amount of forage supply the wants of his
stock; and the internal economy of his barn should be arranged
accordingly, since labor is his cheapest item, and food his dearest.
Therefore, any contrivance by which to work up his forage the
closest--by way of machinery, or manual labor--so that it shall serve
the purposes of keeping his stock, is true economy; and the making and
saving of manures are items of the first importance. His buildings and
their arrangements throughout should, for these reasons, be constructed
in accordance with his practice.

If, on the other hand, lands are cheap and productive, and labor
comparatively dear, a different practice will prevail. The farmer will
feed his hay from the mow without cutting. The straw will be stacked
out, and the cattle turned to it, to pick what they like of it, and make
their beds of the remainder; or, if it is housed, he will throw it into
racks, and the stock may eat what they choose. To do this requires but
one-third, or one-half of the labor which is required by the other mode,
and the saving in this makes up, and perhaps more than makes up, for the
increased quantity of forage consumed.

Again, climate may equally affect the mode of winter-feeding the stock.
The winters may be mild. The hay may be stacked in the fields when
gathered, or put into small barns built for hay storage alone; and the
manure, scattered over the fields by the cattle, as they are fed from
either of them, may be knocked to pieces with the dung-beetle, in the
spring, or harrowed and bushed over the ground; and with the very small
quantity of labor required in all this, such practice will be more
economical than any other which can be adopted.

In latitudes, however, in which it becomes necessary to stall-feed
during several months of the year, barns are indispensable. These should
be warm, and at the same time well ventilated. The barn should be
arranged in a manner suitable to keeping hay and other fodder dry and
sweet, and with reference to the comfort and health of the animals, and
the economy of labor and manure. The size and finish will, of course,
depend on the wants and means of the farmer or dairyman; but many little
conveniences, it should not be forgotten, can be added at comparatively
trifling cost.

The accompanying cut of a barn is given merely as an illustration of a
convenient arrangement for a medium-sized dairy, and not as being
adapted to all circumstances or situations. This barn is supposed to
stand upon a side-hill or an inclined surface, where it is easy to have
a cellar, if desired; and the cattle-room, as shown in the cut, is in
the second story, or directly over the cellar, the bottom of which
should be somewhat dished, or lower in the middle than around the outer
sides, and carefully paved, or laid in cement.

On the outside is represented an open shed, m, for carts and wagons to
remain under cover, thirty feet by fifteen, while l l l l l l are bins
for vegetables, to be filled through scuttles from the floor of the
story above, and surrounded by solid walls. The area of this whole floor
equals one hundred feet by fifty-seven. k, is an open space, nearly on
a level with the cow-chamber, through the door p. s, stairs to the
third story and to the cellar, d d d, passage next to the walls, five
feet wide, and nine inches above the dung-pit. e e e, dung-pit, two
feet wide, and seven inches below the floor where the cattle stand. The
manure drops from this pit into the cellar below, five feet from the
walls, and quite around the cellar. c c c, plank floor for cows, four
feet six inches long. b b b, stalls for three yoke of oxen, on a
platform five feet six inches long, n n, calf-pens, which may also be
used for cows in calving. r r, feeding-troughs for calves. The
feeding-boxes are made in the form of trays, with partitions between
them. Water comes in by a pipe, to cistern a. This cistern is
regulated by a cock and ball, and the water flows by dotted lines,
o o o, to the boxes; each box being connected by lead pipes well secured
from frost, so that, if desired, each animal can be watered without
leaving the stall, or water can be kept constantly before it. A scuttle,
through which sweepings and refuse may be put into the cellar, is seen
at f. g is a bin receiving cut hay from the third story, or
hay-room, h h h h h h, bins for grain-feed. i is a tunnel to conduct
manure or muck from the hay-floor to the cellar. j j, sliding-doors on
wheels. The cows all face toward the open area in the centre.

This cow-room may be furnished with a thermometer, clock, etc., and
should always be well ventilated by sliding windows, which at the same
time admit the light.

The next cut is a transverse section of the same cow-room; a being a
walk behind the cows, five feet wide; b, dung-pit; c, cattle-stand;
d, feeding-trough, with a bottom on a level with the platform where
the cattle stand; k, open area, forty-three feet, by fifty-six.

The story above the cow-room--as represented in the next cut--is one
hundred feet by forty-two; the bays for hay, ten on each side, being ten
feet front and fifteen feet deep; and the open space, p, for the
entrance of wagons, carts, etc., twelve feet wide. b, hay-scales. c,
scale beam. m m m m m m, ladders reaching almost to the roof. l l l,
etc., scuttle-holes for sending vegetables directly to the bins, l l l,
etc., below. a a b b, rooms on the corners for storage. d,
scuttles; four of which are used for straw, one for cut hay, and one for
muck for the cellar. n and the other small squares are eighteen-feet
posts. f, passage to the tool-house, a room one hundred feet long by
eighteen wide. o, stairs leading to the scaffold in the roof of the
tool-house. i i, benches. g, floor. h, boxes for hoes, shovels,
spades, picks, iron bars, old iron, etc. j j j, bins for fruit. k,
scuttles to put apples into wagons, etc., in the shed below. One side of
this tool-house may be used for plows and large implements, hay-rigging,
harness, etc.

Proper ventilation of the cellar and the cow-room avoids the objection
that the hay is liable to injury from noxious gases.

The excellent manure-cellar beneath this barn extends only under the
cow-room. It has a drive-way through doors on each side. No barn-cellar
should be kept shut up tight, even in cold weather. The gases are
constantly escaping from the manure, unless held by absorbents, which
are liable not only to affect the health of the stock, but also to
injure the quality of the hay. To prevent this, while securing the
important advantages of a manure-cellar, the barn may be furnished with
good-sized ventilators on the top, for every twenty-five feet of its
length, and with wooden tubes leading from the cellar to the top.

There should also be windows on different sides of the cellar to admit
the free circulation of air. With these precautions, together with the
use of absorbents in the shape of loam and muck, there will be no danger
of rotting the timbers of the barn, or of risking the health of the
cattle or the quality of the hay.

The temperature at which the cow-room should be kept is somewhere from
fifty to sixty degrees, Fahrenheit. The practice and the opinions of
successful dairymen differ somewhat on this point. Too great heat would
affect the health and appetite of the herd; while too low a temperature
is equally objectionable, for various reasons.

The most economical plan for room in tying cattle in their stalls, is to
fasten the rope or chain, whichever is used--the wooden stanchion, or
stanchel, as it is called, to open and shut, enclosing the animal by the
neck, being objectionable--into a ring, which is secured by a strong
staple into a post. This prevents the cattle from interfering with each
other, while a partition effectually prevents any contact from the
animals on each side of it, in the separate stalls.

There is no greater benefit for cattle, after coming into
winter-quarters, than a systematic regularity in every thing pertaining
to them. Every animal should have its own particular stall in the
stable, where it should always be kept. The cattle should be fed and
watered at certain fixed hours of the day, as near as may be. If let out
of the stables for water, unless the weather is very pleasant--when they
may be permitted to lie out for a short time--they should be immediately
put back, and not allowed to range about with the outside cattle. They
are more quiet and contented in their stables than elsewhere, and waste
less food than if permitted to run out; besides being in every way more
comfortable, if properly bedded and attended to, as every one will find
upon trial. The habit which many farmers have, of turning their cattle
out of the stables in the morning, in all weathers--letting them range
about in a cold yard, hooking and annoying each other--is of no possible
benefit, unless it be to rid them of the trouble of cleaning the
stables, which pays more than twice its cost in the saving of manure.
The outside cattle, which occupy the yard--if there are any--are all the
better that the stabled ones do not interfere with them. They become
habituated to their own quarters, as do the others, and all are better
for being, respectively, in their proper places.

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