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Small barn is suitable for sheep operation

BOONE — Bill and Sharon Sturtz are carrying on the 60-year-long tradition of the Sturtz family operating their livestock business out of their barn.

Bill Sturtz said his parents moved to the farm in 1959, officially purchasing it in 1965, adding that he and his wife moved to the farm in 2001 after his father died.

The barn, which Sturtz guesses is well over 100 years old, was built with four horse stalls on the north side of the barn — three of those are still there — and the south side of the barn was an area for milking cows.

“When my folks moved here, my dad was milking 10 to 12 cows and we kept the calves on the north side,” he said. “To him, it meant a milk check every two weeks. Mom had chickens and I had a few pigs — until they got into her garden. When I got married, the cows went — dad lost his labor.”

The barn isn’t as big as other barns.

“To my knowledge, this has always been an 80-acre farm — it’s a small barn for a small farm,” said Sturtz. “If it was any smaller, it probably wouldn’t be functional.”

When it came time to decide to repair or tear the barn down, Sturtz said his wife was unsure they should save the barn.

“There’s been some structural fatiguing that has went on,” he said. “My wife wanted to knock it down and start over, but man, a new barn was too much. I’m too old to start over. I couldn’t justify replacing it at today’s cost.”

Sturtz uses the barn for lambing and typically runs 50 ewes through the barn each lambing season.

“We have four lambing pens inside and then we cycle them in and out of the barn,” he said. “I try to keep them in here for two weeks and they go back outside. I cycle the ewes in and out based on the size of the barn. If I had a bigger barn, I would probably breed them all at once.”

The Sturtzes have replaced the roof, repaired the foundation and have re-sided the barn. They also removed the milking stanchions and replaced them with sheep bunks and added water and electricity to the barn.

For the future, Sturtz said he would like to eventually remove the horse stalls, move the sheep pens and make room for additional pens.

Overall the barn is in good shape.

“The barn is pretty good — I wish it was a little tighter when we get a wind chill of 50 below zero,” he said.

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