Moving a barn …

Allow me to formally introduce my dad, 3rd generation onion farmer Richard Pawelski.


My dad is a thinker and a doer. As he often says:

“I have an idea stuck in my head.”

Frequently these ideas come to him in the middle of the night. They percolate and then come to fruition. Frequently.

Sometimes these ideas which get lodged in his head are good things. He’s always on the hunt for scrap lumber or tin and is always building something, or taking something apart. As our good friend Tom Savaglio has remarked, “you are a cobbler Rich, always doing something!”

The piece of property between my house and his, called “The Cemetery,” is filled with incredibly large Rich-made structures all put together with cannibalized wood and other materials. “I only had to pay for the nails” he has often remarked.

As I said, sometimes these projects work out quite well … sometimes, not so much. Sometimes he is not so easily dissuaded from one of the “ideas stuck in his head.” Allow me to share the narrative of one of those ideas.

See this barn on my yard:

barn today

That barn years ago used to be on my dad’s yard. here is a vintage photo of it when my brother and I were really young (this pic is from circa 1971 or so):


At some point in our early childhood my dad cut the side of the barn off and moved the primary structure to a different spot in his yard. I don’t recall how exactly he moved it, but I faintly remember him doing it.

Well, he then decided, sometime in the early 80’s, that he was going to move it from his yard to my grandmother’s yard (where I live now and it sits to this day) so all of his primary barns would be in one location. How was he going to move it?

He was going to take this forklift:


He was going to drive into the barn, lift it and have it balanced on the forklift, then he was going to drive it down this 1,000 foot driveway:


And then drive it over 1,500 feet down Pulaski Highway to the other yard:

Pulaski Highway

I am not making any of this up. I remember, distinctly, everyone protesting this idea, me, my brother, my mom, etc …. We thought it was insane, but, as usual, my dad was not to be deterred. He even enlisted our neighbor and his good friend Ed Ratynski to stop traffic along Pulaski Highway as he slowly drove the barn down the highway.

I asked my dad the other day what happened next, and as he recalled, chuckling about it:

“I thought it would work … I had the idea in my head. But then as I started down the driveway, and the driveway wasn’t even, the barn started tilting toward the ditch. Then I decided it wasn’t a good idea and went back up the driveway.”

Another neighbor eventually suggested putting the barn on a wagon and then driving through the black dirt fields between the properties to the new location. And voilà the barn was moved!

In recapping this event with my dad the other day he lamented:

“I should have left the barn where it originally was, before I moved it the first time. The yard would have been more picturesque.”

But, if he hadn’t moved it we wouldn’t have had this story!

After moving it to its current resting place my dad built another side addition with his scraps and “timbers” and it houses a number pieces of equipment, including one of our AC-G’s, our Cat-22 and under the side addition our ditchbank sprayer, fertilizer spreader and Case 350. It is quite useful.

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