You need more than a half hour to tour the Mickelson barn near Rembrandt.
The 100 x 70 foot barn was built in 1901 by Roger Mickelson's grandfather, Hans Hadenfeldt, specifically to house 22 horses. The barn was built with 11 horse stalls, six cow stanchions and calf pens, with the north and east sides made for fattening cattle. The center of this huge structure was used for hay and straw storage.
The site south of Rembrandt was featued on the all state barn tour held September 20 and 21, sponsored by the Iowa Barn Foundation, which chose 33 unique structures to help encourage restoration of the state's classic farm structures.
The barn is unique because of its immense size. Roger knows that no cranes were used to construct the building; it was done with teams of horses using ropes and pulleys.
But it's just not the building itself that makes a barn tour fun. If you've got an interest in antiques, that is the place to go. A guided tour by Roger explaining the many old farm tools add to the fun. A wealth of history hides behind the barn doors.
Everything from a slip scraper to blow torches to an old fashioned milk pasteurizer were shown. The most unique piece of equipment was a log blasting wedge, used to insert into a log, attach a firing cord and then hide quickly behind something before it blew the log apart.
In the mid 1930's the barn was remodeled, Roger said, adding a new cement foundation with clay blocks and in the late '50s the horse stalls and cow stanchions were removed to house hogs.
After quitting the hog business in 1980, the Mickelsons remodeled the building again, putting in a 20 x 14 foot sliding door on the north side of the barn for machinery storage.
But in 2001, a storm took off shingles on both sides of the barn, many down to the sheeting, and Roger knew then that in order to keep the barn he would have to do some renovating. There were three layers of shingles on the old barn but removal of them would have been too costly.
His contractor suggested a steel roof.
A grant was obtained from the Iowa Barn Foundation that enabled the Mickelsons to renovate their barn and preserve the historical value. The farm was honored in 2001 with the Century Farm award at the Iowa State Fair.
Roger and Ruth are now retired and continue to live on the acreage. Their pride in their farm shows with the tree-lined lane, the well groomed buildings and their large unique barn.