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Wooden pegs hold Clay County barn together

-Messenger photo by Karen Schwaller
The Sindt barn in Everly, in Clay County, celebrates its 120th birthday this year.

EVERLY — Brothers Allen and Norman Sindt grew up with their siblings on a farm on the east edge of Everly in Clay County.

“The barn was built in 1899. John Sindt (their great-grandfather) became the owner of the farm in 1901,” said Allen Sindt, adding that they don’t know who built the barn.

The barn stands 24 by 48 feet, with a 12-by-48-foot lean-to on the north end. It was red originally and was covered with white house siding by Fred Sindt (their grandfather) in the early 1940s. Allen Sindt covered it with white tin siding in the 1980s.

The new tin covered up three of the four walk doors on the south side. But as the Sindts worked on the front of the barn, they removed the large drop-down door and moved it inside the lean-to as a keepsake. It’s still weathered and worn, and bears the year the barn was built — by the people who built the barn.

The barn is held together by wooden pegs. Some of the floor joists were spliced together, and wherever those joists are spliced, there is a 6-by-6 underneath of it instead of a 2-by-8, giving added support.

-Messenger photo by Karen Schwaller
The Sindt barn was constructed with these wooden pegs.

Electricity came to the farm in 1918, Norman Sindt said. He remembered it being one of the first in the town of Everly to have it.

The barn still features the original knob-and-tube wiring, along with some of the original cement flooring on the east two-thirds. The west end features newer cement, and the barn’s foundation is still the original rocks put there by builders in 1899.

The barn originally had 14 milking stanchions along the south side, and the cows came in through a 36-inch walk door on the east end of the barn.

“There was always one cow who came in first,” said Norman Sindt. “She was a blue roan, and she always gave about a 5-gallon pail of milk at a time.”

From the south center door there was a 5-foot-wide alleyway, which at one end would allow a person to climb the ladder into the haymow or go into the lean-to. The west end held three pens, which they used for calving. That end was earlier used for horses.

A cream separator took up the northeast corner of the barn, where Norman Sindt said the separated milk was mixed with ground feed to make slop for the hogs. The cream was sold to the Hartley Creamery.

The lean-to had a granary and housed cattle in the past. Allen Sindt later used that area and the barn to raise hogs from the 1970s until 2000.

Allen Sindt remembered being very young and asking his grandfather, Fred Sindt, while in the barn, for a brownie “like he was eating.” The older Sindt obliged, but the ‘brownie’ was really chewing tobacco.

Norman Sindt said he remembered loading hay in the haymow with slings, and said they used an elevator when that era was done.

“Grandpa (Fred Sindt) had one of the first tractors around here that ran a threshing machine — a John Deere D,” he said. “He got rid of the horses in the 1930s.”

Allen Sindt said the barn has been straightened, and they hope to continue basic upkeep.

A family heirloom was unearthed in the barn — a large wooden box that held baling wire. Allen Sindt saw it, cleaned it off and found words on the lid indicating that it came from Europe. It was what John and Sophie Sindt used to move all their belongings from Germany to Iowa.

The box is now inside the Sindt home, serving as a reminder of their heritage.

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