Comments on: In the Archives: Diary of a Farm Girl it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Wystan Stevens Wystan Stevens Wed, 03 Oct 2012 21:07:22 +0000 For those who enjoy tasty “corn on the cob,” a device such as this would be handy for grabbing the ears of corn out of a pot of boiling water. It would be even handier/safer, if the handle were extended a bit.

By: Irene Hieber Irene Hieber Thu, 06 Sep 2012 15:39:23 +0000 Laura,

My daughter & I have put our heads together and we believe the mystery object to be for picking up ice chips.


By: C Bultman C Bultman Sat, 01 Sep 2012 16:43:32 +0000 Ms. Bien

I am pleased to contribute to your wonderful piece. From your map research, I stand by my guess that this barn was a gable barn at the time of the dairy entries. The farm is between 11 and 16 years old when Mamie was born (I guessed the earliest year for the farm to be 1857 assuming that the establishment of the farm did not happen a moment after the 1856 map was published.) Within this time frame one can imagine the establishment of the farm to profitability and the loss of the two children you noted. From my perspective I would not expect a gambrel barn to be built in Michigan between 1857 and 1864. Only if the barn was brand new when Mamie was writing would I expect it to be a grambrel; and then it still may not have been. With only one year of dairy entries (which is all I think you have) it’s hard to flesh out the history, but its fun to try.


I really appreciate your putting in a plug for the Pittsfield Library’s barn raising here. I am looking forward to bringing this scaled model of a real barn to AA and to spending the afternoon talking about and building a barn. Working with this barn at different venues around the state has been incredibly rewarding and fun for many kids; and adults as well.

After we brought the barn to the Leland School System for a very aggressive program (all of the 3rd, 4th,7th and 8th graders in the school; 150 students in two days!) I wrote the following for the MBPN’s newsletter. “The barn was raised in a relatively short time frame transforming the 100 or so parts into one building; eliciting exclamations and applause each time. Shy kids were grinning ear to ear as the barn took shape. It was all we could do at times to keep a safe pace as seeing the first bent made them anxious to see the second, and then the third; it was a real building and they were building it themselves. The enthusiasm was absolutely contagious and spread from the students to the teachers; everyone lent a hand. And seeing everyone working side-by-side, helping each other regardless of age or position, was nothing short of magical.”

I think it is great opportunity to be a part of a real barn raising; and it is real. Even scaled-down this barn has to be erected just like a real barn and it takes many hands. I have now erected it many times and each time I still have a sense of accomplishment. It is also a wonderful opportunity for children, and adults, to spend some quality time considering how people have been building wooden buildings for thousands of years. Oh and we get to talk about barns and farming, a well as history and community, and so much more.

It is my desire to overwhelm the library with participants so I hope all of you will consider attending. Also all of you should know that if you have an event where this barn could prove to be valuable the MBPN would be interested to try to work with you. This barn has been to barn conventions, agricultural expositions, state fairs, schools, career expositions, heritage festivals all over the state and beyond and has been well received. If you would like more information feel free to contact me at You can also see photos of the barn at the MBPN’s website [link].


David, I purposefully squandered the previous comment slot as I did not wish to have that number next to my comment. I hope you can understand.

By: Anonymous Anonymous Sat, 01 Sep 2012 16:43:01 +0000 .

By: Laura Bien Laura Bien Sat, 01 Sep 2012 01:02:50 +0000 Jim: Duly noted and it is fair of you to say so. It’s a heck of a stapler, to be sure. And a beautiful object that I just enjoy having on my desk. Thank you for your comment. :)

By: Jim Rees Jim Rees Fri, 31 Aug 2012 23:49:07 +0000 While I’d like to take credit for guessing the previous Mystery Artifact, I think the credit should go to TJ, who was the first to guess it was a stapler. I was simply agreeing with him. Chuck identified the manufacturer, and Johnboy the model.

I think this month’s item is for serving some food, maybe pasta or salad.

By: Laura Bien Laura Bien Fri, 31 Aug 2012 18:22:56 +0000 Ms. Armentrout: Thank you for the recommendation for “Michigan Family Farms and Farm Buildings.” Your recommendation and Mr. Bultman’s comment have made me interested in learning more about farm architecture; I’ll see what I can find in the university and public libraries near my home. Thanks to you both.

By: Laura Bien Laura Bien Fri, 31 Aug 2012 18:16:11 +0000 Ms. Estabrook: That is interesting! No one else I’ve shown this object to has ever seen it before. To hear from someone who actually used this object is fun. Despite its age, this object still works perfectly.

By: Laura Bien Laura Bien Fri, 31 Aug 2012 18:13:22 +0000 Mr. Bultman: Thank you for your extremely informative and interesting comment. I appreciate the time you took to detail this information about barn roof construction. I always appreciate learning useful information from people who know far more about a given subject than me, and I read your comment with great interest. Thank you–I learned something. For what it’s worth, the Vought farm first appears on the 1864 plat maps; it’s not labeled on the 1856 maps (I don’t have any intervening plat maps on hand).

I’ve seen a smallish gable barn on Stony Creek Road south of AA, built on four little columns of stones at each corner. It looks quite old. I appreciate learning that gable barns were the onetime standard and that gambrel barns were a later innovation–this sort of information is key to drawing an accurate picture of the past, and I appreciate your kind help in doing so.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Fri, 31 Aug 2012 15:11:23 +0000 From his comment, it’s clear that Bultman knows a bit about barns. For readers who might wonder why, he’s an architect who has undertaken more than one barn restoration project. Some readers might remember an article he wrote for The Chronicle about two years ago: “A Broadside for Barn Preservation

I would also add that there’s an super-fun looking event involving barn preservation, coming up on Sept. 15 from 1-5 p.m. at the Pittsfield branch of the Ann Arbor District Library:

Reconstruct a quarter-scale replica barn! Held in partnership with the Michigan Barn Preservation Network, this event is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience a traditional community barn raising. Common in Michigan during the late-19th and late-20th centuries, barn raisings were community gatherings where work was accomplished, traditions reinforced, and community was celebrated. For Grade 3 to adult.

Details here.