Collapsed Barn


Marshfield Horse Arenas

Ouch. Big ouch. Sick in the stomach ouch. Snow loads collapse buildings. The above is a rather sad example, almost like a before and after with the remaining arena on the right and the collapsed one on the left. I feel badly for the owners and am glad it is not my barn. This is one I spotted in Marshfield, Vermont along Rout 2 while we were making hot dog deliveries this week. (This is at the Curle Horse Farm according to George over at the blog The Vermont Gardener.)


Closer View of Collapsed Arena

The department of agriculture issues warnings every winter asking farmers to shovel off their roofs to avoid this sort of disaster. I can’t imagine shoveling off that arena or other huge barns. Doing so would be very dangerous in and of itself.

One solution is to make the roof shed like older homes with their steep pitches. That does require extra wood, roofing and loses living space. I see a lot of modern homes with shallow or flat roofs. The storm of ’98 collapsed a fair number of them – including the 1950’s hunting camp on our land.

Making the roof extra slippery such as standing seam so it sheds more easily so a lower pitch will work. Of course, it is important to have a place where that snow will dump and not backup onto the roof.

Another solution is to make the roof extra strong so it can support any snow that may come.

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Most roofs that last use a combination of these three techniques.


Our Farm House Buried in Snow

Ben is standing about 4′ above the summer ground in the photo above. That is the current level of the front lawn. Some of that height is the snow dump that has accumulated from the roof before it backed up. Our old farm house is currently almost buried in snow on the east side of the kitchen – shown above – as well as the hay shed on the west. Fortunately the early settlers who built it around the time of the revolution built it strong with full log beams and with steep roof pitches. Lloyd, the previous owner added a horse shed and porch, both of which he built extra solid. Holly and I added a hay shed, again built very solid to hold even very deep snows since I couldn’t make the hay shed dump every time for sure.

On the tiny cottage the roof is designed to retain the snow for insulation and to be strong enough to hold any depth of snow and ice. It is a ferro-concrete barrel vault. Eventually the roof will even have dirt on the top and be planted with grass, thus why it is designed to be so strong.

I have another structure I want to do that I plan to have shed instead. This year we hope to build a large greenhouse. Thus I’ve been studying collapsed structures, especially those with clear spans. I would rather not experience what I’ve seen. Eeek!

Outdoors: 25°F/14°F Mostly Sunny
Farm House: 60°F/48°F Platform built for 3rd whey tank
Tiny Cottage: 61°F/47°F Coat hooks in entry, Ventilation duct east opened at bottom

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Collapsed Barn

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Walter, This has nothing to do with your latest entry (well, ok, you did mention hot DOGS), but I’ve been meaning to ask how you control the breeding activities of your dogs when they’re all out in one pack? You are obviously not overrun with pups and you certainly haven’t had any of the genetic issues of overbred dogs, but aren’t all of your dogs related to each other at this point? I’m just really curious, but I thought I’d ask on the blog since other inquiring minds might want to know. :) Leon is doing a great job for us here, although I had to leave him in the car for an extended period last week and he ate my seatbelts. Good thing I like him so much. – Cindy

  2. valereee says:

    Walter, it seems like making the roof black would help, too.

    Or putting up some sort of strip along the top that would help keep just the middle of the block of ice melted so that the two sides would be more likely to slide off. It seems like having the two sides -attached- to one another is part of what keeps it up there. So if you could just get a strip down the middle melted, it would encourage the two sides to slide off.

  3. karl says:

    luckily snow load isn’t a major factor here.

  4. Cindy,

    Our ladies only come into heat about once a year or so. This makes it very easy to segregate them from the gentlemen when their time comes if we don’t want pups that year.

    The ladies are also very specific about whom they are willing to mate with. Whoa is the male dog that would attempt to take liberties with a lady who is so fast and has such sharp fangs. These ladies can walk all the dark alleys they want in perfect safety. :)

    As to relations, our dogs come down through three lines and I carefully track and monitor. Line-breeding and inbreeding is not as real a problem as is popularly thought. The issue is if one is unwilling to cull defects from the breeding population. That is what produces the genetic problems we see in show dogs, potbellied pigs and families like the Windsors.

    Valereee, You have a most excellent point and that is probably the origin of the pointy roofed greenhouses. Thanks for noticing that! I had been wondering about just that but hadn’t figured out the bonding strength of the ice across the saddle of the peak.

    Karl, if we ever have excess we’ll send you some! :) This may be a battle with my kids though as they think there is never enough snow… :)

  5. Adria says:

    Gee Walt, I didn’t know that we had made your blog until my son-in-law found your blog today. The Collapse had nothing to do with the snow load. We have hired an engineer and she has determined the cause. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the cause here, because this is a public venue and we are suing the company that designed and built it as it had been standing less than 6 months.

    Anyway, once we’ve settle the suit, I may be able to “tell all”. In the meanwhile, I *can* talk about it privately…

    Oh, and we’re Green Mountain Curlies, and I have a blog as well.

  6. Adria, interesting to know. With so many that have collapsed from snow load I thought that was yours too. When you’re able to talk about it please do fill us in on what happened. Cheers, -Walter

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