Another annual Iowa farm tour – this time Union and Madison Counties (with a quick drive through Earlham)

We enjoyed the annual Iowa farm tour so much last year that we did it again this year — picking a different area of the state. This time we headed southwest, to Union and Madison Counties.  Very pretty rural countryside, more hilly than in central Iowa around Story County where we went last year.

Millie, our lab, came with us again and enjoyed sniffing around the old barns. The first we visited was a 19th century red wood beauty we finally found (GPS kept sending us to dead ends) in a little c county historical village in the small city of Creston. The “(New) Union County Barn” aka “Harris Barn” built in 1896 had been relocated from the countryside so it felt a little less authentic but inside, it was the real deal, with old dairy equipment, wood stalls for animals, a high hayloft and a rope, presumably to swing in the hayloft. (Or hoist hay bales into the loft.) (We’re told it’s:  a perfect example of post and beam construction with diagonal braces. Horizontal cladding is rare and is associated with Civil War veterans.

Next stop, two barns in Madison County, the first west of town on Highway 96. A nice woman showed us around inside the big white 19th century barn with a pretty cupola atop. She even pointed out the dead cat hanging from the rafters that she reported noticing early in the morning but didn’t want to deal with it.

North of Winterset, on Highway 169 just north of the Winterset Cidery, we stopped at our last barn — the McBroom-Hargis barn, five miles south of I-80, an enormous red barn  sitting on the edge of the highway and part of a country estate with several buildings that appeared to be old but were actually new-ish construction. The owner is apparently a talented carpenter — and we marveled at two miniature toy barns inside the big old barn. An 1884 story in the local newspaper referred to it as “the largest barn in this part of the county.” It has a wooden track, post and beam, pegs and was designed by I.F. Carter of De Soto.  More photos here.

We also drove at the onset through the town of Earlham — and spotted the Restaurant the Hare and the Hound there, which I’ve had on my list for awhile. It’s next to RJ Home (RJ stands for Rescued Junk) which sells vintage, salvaged, junk items one weekend a month.  We went once several years ago and didn’t find much but it was a fun outing and worth another visit, especially with the restaurant nearby.

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