Piney River Brewing Company

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Perfect space

In Start up on August 30, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Sam and Reuben began adding the new wood to the front of the barn last week.  We think it’s rather glorious to see, and we have been discussing removing trees so the view to the front of the BARn is not obstructed.

Back when we were first discussing the roof on the barn, we found a neat company, Sand Creek Post and Beam, that designs and sells the lumber and other parts to build post and beam barns.  On their website, we found a couple of big windows that were not used in a project and were heavily discounted.  We purchased them to go in the very top of both ends of the barn.

As Sam and Reuben added the wood to the front of the barn, we began to more clearly see the spaces where we had envisioned the windows and doors.   Our quick purchase of those windows really was the perfect thing for this old barn.

A much needed rain fell in Texas County today, so we spent some time this evening putting a stain/sealant on the wood windows.

In the cool, finally dust-free evening, we listened to the St. Louis Cardinals’ game and Andy’s chatter.  Tomorrow Sam and Reuben should be able to place the window on the top of the East end of the barn.

The larger hole in the middle will hold a set of double French doors.  They will be at floor level allowing in more light and air.  On the West of end of the barn, we will add another set of French doors (for a fabulous breeze on most days).

And, maybe you can see, just like us, the sign that will go between the top window and the French doors…Piney River Brewing Company BARn.

We hope it will be a perfect space.


We hadn’t thought of it, but….

In Start up on August 24, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Did I mention that our construction crew is pretty cool?

Sam Wolthuis, owner of H-Minus Construction, is a young guy that grew up in the area.  He understand barns.  He appreciates what we are trying to do.  He’s proud of the work he’s doing.  Sam and the BARn,,,it’s a good fit.

Sam’s helper is his brother-in-law, Reuben.  Reuben also grew up in the area, and he, too, understands and appreciates old barns.  As an added plus, Reuben also does a little homebrewing of his own.  He mentioned a homemade wine made with black walnut and orange peel.  I think Reuben may be proud of turning an old barn into a microbrewery.  Reuben and his family live without electricity, pump water with a windmill and raise their food supply on their farm.  And, although he knows how to drive, Reuben doesn’t own a car.  Luckily, he works for Sam who doesn’t mind chauffeuring him to jobs like ours.

(No, I haven’t taken photos of Sam and Reuben yet, but don’t worry, I’ll whip out the camera sometime when they aren’t looking.)

Anyway, Reuben and Brian have had several conversations about brewing since they met, and Reuben found out about the importance of his job in working on our barn for the betterment of life for all of  humankind.  Brian hit the homebrewing jackpot this weekend when in our little basement beer fridge (that little fridge has lost its importance since we got the kegerator last year)–four homemade wheat beers.  One of the beers we’re saving to compare with our latest all grain wheat beer, but the other bottles are definitely in the consumption line.

It just so happened that we were home this evening when Sam and Reuben were still working on the barn (for the record, Sam tried out the hay forks in the loft today, and they still work).  I cracked open one of those limited edition wheat beers for Reuben to try.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a contractor grin as big as Reuben when I handed over that cold cup of wheat.   He enjoyed the flavors saying that he found notes of honey in the beer (although there is none).  Then, he brought up something that we had never thought of.

“You’re going to have to put a hitching post here so I can tie my horse up when I ride over for a beer,” Reuben told Brian after polishing off that drink.

We had thought of parking, of course, but hitching hadn’t crossed our mind…that is until tonight.  Something else to sketch into the master plan.

Old Barn Under a Full Moon

In Start up on August 23, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Work began on some of the structure of the barn today.  Old oak boards are being removed, and new treated pine from Houston Wood Treating will be put on the outside of the barn.

The gambrel style of the barn will be kept, and some new fascia boards have been added on the East end of the barn to replace old boards.  The roof will be brought over to the edge when the new fascia is complete.  We are also adding soffit from treated pine.

There are large holes in the East and West ends of the barn where hay used to be transported in and out of the barn loft.  We have two large windows that will go where each of those holes are.  We found them from a really cool company that specializes in custom barns (for people that want a barn like ours, but don’t have one to restore).  They are called Sand Creek Post and Beam, and based on some of the pricing found on their site, I shudder to think what a barn like ours would cost if it were built from scratch today.

Remember how I mentioned that the height part of this barn work was the part the Brian and I aren’t tackling?  Check out this old fashioned scaffolding that Sam erected to work on the barn.  Two pump jacks are used to manually propel the vertical boards to great heights.  Sam explained that he got these pump jacks at an auction where he was “in a fierce bidding war” with an Amish guy for the tools.  Obviously, Sam won the bid, and we’ve admired the pump jacks and the job they do.  Neither one of us have tried them out, though.

Brian continues to excavate the barn.  Water lines and electrical lines run to the barn, and we’ll begin pouring a concrete floor, possibly this week.

Intercounty Electric is also expected out sometime in the next week or so to replace and set new electrical poles, put in a new transformer and do some other electrical work.

Maybe its was the waxing gibbous moon, the hollow sound of our empty kegerator, or just a desire to do something besides work on the barn, but we spent part of the weekend enjoying a little homebrewing.  There’s 30 gallons of homebrew in the basement–10 gallons of hard cider, 10 gallons of wheat beer and 10 gallons of pale ale happily bubbling away.  Homebrew fermenting in the basement makes it easier to toil away on our barn.

Seeing Red

In Start up on August 11, 2010 at 10:12 pm

About 5 p.m. today, Brian and I had a toast with a couple of our personal favorite Missouri microbrews.  With a Boulevard Wheat in my left hand and a Schlafly Pale Ale in his right hand, we toasted red.

First, the St. Louis Cardinals finished off the Cincinnati Reds with a three game sweep of the Reds.  The games weren’t even close.  Go Redbirds.

Second, we toasted 15194.  Yes, today Brian called 9-1-1, and they gave the Piney River Brewing Company an official address–15194 Walnut Grove Drive.  According to 9-1-1, they left room for us to “put in a trailer” (yes, that’s a quote) between the house and the barn.   If you know us, you know that remark made Brian laugh out loud.  So, 15194 the address is.  I think it sounds like a great name for a session beer.

Finally we toasted “rustic red”.  That’s the color of our new barn roof.  It’s hard to miss when you turn the first corner on our road.  We love it.  And we hope you do, too.  Cheers!

Tin Roof, Rusted

In Start up on August 9, 2010 at 9:42 pm

When we bought our farm, a slightly erect machine shed was leaning into the earth next to the barn.  It was an eyesore, and if you’ve been in the Ozarks for any amount of time, it was easy to look at the machine shed and see what the barn could become too with more time, wind, weather and neglect.

We tore down that machine shed–burned the old boards, gave the tin to Jimmy to sell for scrap, and pushed the rest into a dry crib that we filled in.  Gone.

The barn wasn’t so easy to get rid of.  Fully restoring the barn was a distant dream, and we never discussed tearing the barn down.  A step up into the giant hayloft would take us back to the days when men and children would put in a hard and honest day’s work filling the loft with enough hay to get the cattle through the winter.  A walk through the woods on our farm reveals giant old stumps from ancient red and white oaks that were harvested to build our house and later, the barn.  Rough cut red and white oak planks and beams, sometimes up to 12′ in length were harvested, milled and used to build this little farm on the Piney.  And, we’ve met some of the children of the man who was the farm hand and assisted in the building of the barn.

A few years ago, our friend Jamie clambered around on the roof replacing some tin that had finally blown off for good.  A year or two after that we had a roofing crew screw down the rusted tin roof.  We knew we wanted to keep the barn in the dry.  When we started our barn restoration,that ol’ rusty tin roof was our first priority.   After talking first with a barn roof painter, we decided to put a new steel roof on the barn.  That’s when we met Sam, our construction guy.

(Just as a side note…you’ve probably noticed that Brian and I do just about all of our projects with our own hands.  We may read a book about it, look it up on the internet or ask a professional, but we’re not scared to try most things that a “professional” does.  However, we do not do heights.  Actually, Brian doesn’t do heights, and since I’m the trusty sidekick in most endeavors like this, I don’t do them either.)

So, hooray for Sam.  He started the roof job today, and it was quite a sight to turn the bend on Walnut Grove Drive today and see dark brown rafters in the distance.  Sam is even being careful in removing the nails and screws from the tin because we intend to use the tin inside the barn.  That old tin won’t be too far removed from its rafters.

For just a few days in August 2010, stacks of rusted tin are growing on the ground, and our glorious old barn rafters are being thrown open to the sun, the moon and the star filled Milky Way.

A view of the barn from the road.

Outside tin to be saved for inside.

View from the stairs into the loft.

The exposed rafters on the South side of the barn.

The interior barn peak, some parts still covered with tin.


Piles of rusted tin roof.

And then there was dirt

In Start up on August 4, 2010 at 10:19 pm

And LOTS of it.  A backhoe dug lines from the new well to the barn and to our house (we’re going to use our old well to water parts of the garden and my flower beds).  However, the new well will have excellent pressure, so we’ve routed it to the house and, of course to the barn.

Trench from well head to barn.

Toward the barn from the new well.

Trench from house to new well.

From the house to the new well.

We’ve got some navigation issues from one side of the yard to the other and to things like the compost bin.  The ditches are about four feet deep.  What may be problematic for me is paradise to a five-year old.

One happy 5-year old.

One happy 5-year old.

BIG dirt piles with LOTS of rocks.

BIG dirt piles with LOTS of rocks.

Brian’s doing a crash course in Wiring 101, which involves a book we bought at Home Depot and a lot of questions.  Brian’s already slightly experienced in PVC.  However, he does have a tidbit for future PVC builders–when you’re using pipe cleaner on PVC, don’t hold the pipe between your legs.

One big plus for me is that we’ve put a hydrant in my greenhouse.  No more waiting for a warm day to fill up my barrels in the greenhouse during the winter!

Brian backfills a little dirt around my new greenhouse spigot.

Brian backfills a little dirt around my new greenhouse spigot to hold it in place for now.

The other big news is that the hackberry stump/bottle tree won the battle of the backhoe.  Since the stump was between the new well head and the greenhouse, and we were running a waterline into the greenhouse, I gave the go ahead to dismantle the bottle tree and remove the stump.  (The stump was there from the large tree we cut down when we put up the greenhouse.)   A huge amount of roots were pulled out, but the stump remains.  Bottle tree will go back up when the dirt work is done.

SOME of the hackberry stump/bottle tree roots. The stump/tree remains.

SOME of the hackberry stump/bottle tree roots. The stump/tree remains.

The heat advisory is supposed to end at 8 p.m. tomorrow night…probably around the time we’ll end another night of pipe fitting and laying.

Down to the barn shell

In Start up on August 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Brian and I agreed tonight that on the hottest of brewing days in our future, it will probably never be as hot and as dirty as the past four days.

Early Thursday morning we had a new well dug on our property.  The well that we currently have is very old and not very deep.  The water is fine–quite tasty, actually–but we needed more water pressure for our current adventures.  In between the greenhouse/bottle tree stump and the the storage shed, our new well is 190 feet deep with water at 80 feet and pumping 30 gallons a minute.  Gotta love those pure Ozark water streams.  The new well isn’t hooked up yet, but it well be.

Also on Thursday we began removing the remainder of the 20+ year old hay from the loft of the barn. Most of the twine holding the hay was gone or easily broken, so it was a messy, hot job to say the least. There are two nice holes on each end of the loft that captured a nice West to East breeze, but when the heat index is over 100 degrees, it was hot. We threw the hay from the Eastern floor level window down to trailer below, and unloaded the hay from the trailer. We had an altercation with a yellow jacket nest on our first unload, so we didn’t go back to that spot to unload again! (Sorry, no photos. I abandoned the camera in the truck when the yellow jackets came in.)

On Friday, we completed hay removal–seven loads total. While we are proud of keeping our old barn, I’m pretty sure there will never be any hay in it again.

With the top of the barn clean, we began work on the bottom of the barn. The barn is 60′ long and 36′ wide. There are two sides that are each 13′ wide with mangers running down the interior side of each. In between the manger areas is a 6′ walkway. The barn has been used to hold hay, cattle, equipment and in the time we’ve owned it…some game Brian’s killed, boats, lawnmowers and our UTV. At one time, the barn was used for a dairy operation. In 70 years, A LOT of manure and hay has accumulated all the crevices of the barn. Not to mention grease guns, lumber, wire, fencing materials, gas and diesel containers, tires, doors, bottles, motors, and the list goes on.

We have a New Holland LS170 skid steer, and with the bucket on that and a lot of manual labor, that barn is empty. The only thing remaining are the steps/ladder to the loft and the support beams. Most of the lumber in the manger is rough cut red and white oak that was harvested off the farm. You can’t buy lumber that’s as nice as the boards used in our barn manger. We are going to remove the nails, plane the boards and use them for parts of the interior structure of the barn. What a gift and what a pile they make! We also plan to use the rusted tin off the roof and some of the old exterior wood on the interior, too.

So it’s Sunday night, and we’re down to a really well built barn shell, and a big dream. There’s nothing quite like being covered in dirt (and composted manure), dripping with sweat, and laughing with your best friend about how you’re going to use some piece of wood you just pulled out of your old barn.