When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Every life has a story. My life has had many blessings and happiness, and one great sadness when I unexpectedly became a widow too soon in life. My late husband had a small landscape nursery, which I eventually had cleared off. The gift of land seemed to me an opportunity to start fresh with a new life endeavor. Growing this business has been a healing experience, and it is my sincere wish that you are able to connect with your inner peace and happiness while you harvest your berries.
In 2015 the University of Illinois Extension hosted the DeKalb County Farm Stroll. A dozen of DeKalb County’s diversified family farms were chosen for this self-guided tour. You Pick Berries was one of those farms. The following is a podcast of the owner’s (Christine Ewald) tour given on that day.
Imagine my surprise when one day a gentleman knocked on my door and told me that his ancestors had built my barn. What a gift of history! While the exact date of the building of the barn is unknown, we do know that it is approximately 150 years old (probably older), and built by Jane and George McClelland.
Another wonderful gift of history happened when I was visited by Ralph Johnson. His family (Mr. & Mrs. Otto Johnson) owned the farm from 1937 - 1942. It was a special moment for me when Ralph stood with me in the barn and shared his memories.
The barn’s foundation is wood and sits directly on a dirt floor. In the 40’s, the owners, Levone and Arthur Ewald, jacked up one corner of the barn and placed several large boulders under it to level it off. You can still see these boulders. The morter bricks used to fill in the foundation were repurposed from the old silo that sat to the right of the barn. The silo foundation is now used as a bonfire pit.
(John Ewald, brother of Arthur Ewald)
One of the major problems of the barn has become the wood foundation beam of the north foundation. It is cracking and slowly bowing outward. My effort to slow this process down is to keep the wood foundation as dry as possible. Which explains that crazy pattern of nailed up boards on the north side of the barn.
Other than north side foundation problem, the bones of the barn are in great shape. It was put together with pegs, rather than nails.
In 1990 the barn passed into the ownership of Christine and Adrian Ewald. You may be interested to know that Adrian (Art) built quite a party room on the upper floor. Complete with a hand crafted bar and carpeting! Our stewardship effort for the barn was to put on a new roof. After the passing of my husband I have continued to keep the roof repaired and have the barn painted. I also periodically gather up my courage and get up there and nail up new boards when needed! In 2013 I had a lot of fun designing and painting a barn quilt. I painted the quilt on two 3 x 6 foot boards in my living room that winter. A really wonderful neighbor hung it for me. It meant a great deal to me to add something from myself to the history of the barn. You can read more about it here:
As I get older I have realized that it gets less and less about ownership and more about stewardship. I am the current caretaker of the old girl (the barn), and I am dedicated to seeing her survive intact until the next caretaker takes over.
Our Old Barn
Our barn sits
so quiet and empty
yet as I stand inside listening
it starts to talk softly
whispering of yesterday
telling me of past times
how proudly it stood as it was made
so tall and grande
it speaks to me of the many people
it has held sheltered
throughout the years
of smiles and laughter
on the floor all the tears
that have fallen
o how many people inside
some losing themselves
others finding themselves
in this old barn
- Author Unknown