Farm Horizons, February 2003

Ehrkes find the 'perfect' barn for their farm

By Julie Yurek

After eight years of hoping and longing, Stan and Charlotte Ehrke finally have their "perfect" barn.

Many residents watched the Ehrkes move a 1930s era barn onto their property at the south edge of Lester Prairie Dec. 30.

The barn was on Lloyd and Shirley Weisenburgers' property for years.

The journey started eight years ago, before any mention of a barn moving was said.

Ehrke was driving by the barn one day, and thought it would be the perfect barn for their farm, he said.

However, all he could do at that time was dream. The opportunity for him to purchase it would probably never arise he thought, he said.

Then in July or August 2001, the city passed an ordinance that stated no farm animals including horses, were allowed within city limits, Ehrke said.

"It (the barn) would have been a great place for horses on that property," Ehrke said. "The Weisenburgers couldn't sell it as a hobby farm anymore."

In February 2002, Lloyd Weisenburger called the Ehrkes, offering them the chance to buy the barn.

The barn moving was supposed to happen last summer in June, but then the rain hit, Ehrke said. The field that the barn had to travel across became saturated, so the move had to be postponed.

"If I had had one more week, it would have moved in June," he said.

The move had to be rescheduled a second time in December. It was set for Dec. 18, but again the weather impended the move.

Even with all the setbacks, the actual moving of the barn went very smoothly.

Shirley Weisenburger was surprised at how quickly the barn was moved from their old property to the Ehrkes, she said. "I thought it would have been a rough ride through the field, but it went pretty smooth," she said.

The moving company drove across the field a few times to make a path for the barn, she said.

It looked like a rough ride though when they were making the path, she added.

From the time the barn started moving until it was on the Ehrkes' property was about 30 minutes. The moving company started jacking the barn up at 10:30 and it only took about a one hour for that, Ehrke said.

The 28-x-44-x-30 foot barn will be set on "blocks," suspended a few feet off the ground until three rows of cement can be put down for its foundation, Ehrke said.

The closest Stan could come to a year the barn was built is the late 1920s to early 1930s, he said. He talked with some folks in the area to establish a timeline, but no one could give him an exact year, he said.

"It's a sound building and nothing is rotten. It was made with good lumber," he said.

The barn will have three uses. A portion of the main level will house some of Charlotte's carriages, Ehrke said. The other portion of the barn will have stalls for the Ehrkes horses.

Charlotte belongs to a club called Whips and Wheels. She owns about 14 carriages, she said.

The loft will be for hay bales, Ehrke said.

They will probably have a barn dance sometime in the next year, Charlotte said. It will also be painted red to match the other buildings on the property, she said.

The Weisenburgers' barn is the fourth building the Ehrkes have had moved to their farm, Ehrke said.

The first building is much smaller than the barn and is where some of the Ehrkes horses can go in inclement weather, he said.

The horse shed also came from rural Lester Prairie about 10 years ago. The Ehrkes were awarded the barn on a sealed bid.

The second building moved onto the property was a brooder house where the Ehrkes keep their chickens, ducks, and geese. It too came from the local area.

An outhouse was the third building to arrive. It is a working two-seat outhouse with electricity and music.

The outhouse was the only building that the Ehrkes moved themselves. The others were professionally moved, Ehrke said.

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