Friday, November 29, 2013

             How many old barns are left?


              That's a good question, and there are some estimates and answers.

Here's some info

Long story short, estimates put the total number of old-time barns currently remaining across America at about 660,000 when in 1910, at the peak of traditional small family farm activity in America, there were about six million.

And that's because, in those days, almost everyone was a farmer and tied to the land for the purposes of sheer survival. 

These days, 2 percent of our population are farmers

Here's a link to a story on it from the National Barn Alliance (NBA), an organization with the Mission to help all things old barns

And here's a link to the NBA itself Check them out -- they have a lot of good information and network connections on old barns and how to deal with them if you have a project at hand.

In the meantime  

Here's an excerpt from the article mentioned above from the NBA website.


Guest post by member, Charles Bultman. 

He is an architect in Ann Arbor, Michigan who has been saving and adapting old, unwanted, barns into new uses; including homes, offices and retail spaces. 

The scene is easily conjured; a barn in a field, quietly marking time. It’s a picture that lingers. Few things are as simple as an old barn. But that simplicity evaporates when we consider their future.

There are about 660,000 historic barns left in the United States. And while that may sound like a lot, at the peak  of farming in America, around 1910, there were 6 million farms. 

If each farm had only one barn we have lost on  average 50,000 barns a year. But obviously their demise does not come about ‘on average’. As the years pass more and more barns fall into ruin; making 660,000 seem like a frighteningly small number to me.

So what is to become of relics like barns when the country has been steadily moving to a non-agrarian lifestyle, and shows no real sign of turning back? These icons in the landscape are stranded but they are not without love. That’s why it is not so simple.

Barns in our landscape are sublime. Like a mountain or a river, they have existed there for so long that you can come to believe they will be there forever. 

But they will not. 

We have all heard the reasons; too much to maintain, farm equipment is too big, fewer farms and fewer farmers, etc. etc. etc.

But didn’t we agree that barns are loved? Why then does that not swing in their favor?

Click on this link to read the whole story 

And here's a bit more

What follows below is some really great information on total old barn numbers from the National Trust for Historic Preservation -- it's an excerpt and you can find the whole missive at:




Which states have the most old barns?

The results of the recent Census of Agriculture include some surprises about where older barns are located.  For example, the state with the most farms reporting pre-1960 barns is not Iowa, nor Wisconsin, nor Pennsylvania.  It is Texas.  (OK, maybe this isn't really a surprise.)  Below is a ranking of the top ten states where the most farmers or ranchers said they have a barn built prior to 1960. 
  1. Texas: 51,236  farms or ranches reporting at least one barn built before 1960
  2. Missouri: 36,007
  3. Wisconsin: 35,386
  4. Kentucky: 35,224
  5. Iowa: 34,224
  6. Ohio: 33,762
  7. Pennsylvania: 29,321
  8. Tennessee: 27,555
  9. Minnesota: 27,165
  10. Illinois: 25,767
Looking at these statistics, one might argue that larger states will always come out on top of the list.  What about a top ten list that takes into account total land area?  Here's a ranking of states when the results are calculated by the number of agricultural properties with barns built before 1960 per square mile.
  1. Kentucky: 0.89  farms or ranches with pre-1960 barns, for every square mile
  2. Ohio: 0.82
  3. Tennessee: 0.67
  4. Pennsylvania: 0.65
  5. Wisconsin: 0.65
  6. Indiana: 0.63
  7. Iowa: 0.61
  8. Maryland: 0.53
  9. Missouri: 0.52
  10. Illinois: 0.46
With this ranking in mind, it is particurlarly appropriate that Kentucky was the site of this year's national Heritage Barn Conference, organized by the National Barn Alliance in partnership with local hosts Preservation Kentucky and the Kentucky Heritage Council.

Read the whole article here:  --->



The old barns energy continues and is growing as, across the country, people are realizing how important these old wooden barns and farm structures are to us.

It's 'too little, too late' for so many of them, but in the meantime we still have the chance to save and honor a significant number of the old barns that our country came from, not so many years and decades ago. 

And remember to check out the website for possible gift giving ideas for that old barn lover on your list -- T-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs and more! Maybe Spreadshirt will offer another discount as Christmas approaches and if they do, we will tell you about it right away!

                        Enjoy the long, holiday weekend -- more later  


Sunday, November 24, 2013

   As a kid I really wanted to be a cowboy 

And judging by the steely gaze I was able to muster for this 1960 pic my dad set up in the basement, I woulda' been a danged good one, too -- firm but fair, like any good cowboy should be.

Except for the fact of the matter that I was an Undertaker's boy from the south side of Chicago and the nearest horse, cow, barn or anything else even remotely related was a long way away from where I was. 

While the Chicago Police Department had horse stables on the South Side then, and still do now, that didn't count.

These were the prime days of the Westerns on TV and I was absolutely captured by it all.

Shows like Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, Bonanza, Wagon Train, Have Gun Will Travel and many others set the stage for a young boy to be captivated by the Western lore, and I was.

What I've come to think is that my life now, capturing old barn stories and being out in the country around cows, horses, old barns and old (and young) farmers in the meantime, is an adult satisfaction and fulfillment and realization of that early life experience where I wanted nothing more than to be part of the old West.

And boy, it feels really good and I really love it.

Bringing the old barns and country stories to people across America is an absolute joy because of the way people respond and say how they want to keep seeing more of it.  

So I'll continue to push on it all and will do my best to continue walking that road and thank you for being one of those people.

In the meantime 
As things proceed the blog, website ( and overall outreach continue and really nice people across the country are responding and adding their energies to the effort, which is a very cool thing that would have been so impossible to have happen even ten years ago.

Over time I'll build up a list of links to the people responding to this old barns show energy and will pass it along -- you'll enjoy it when that happens -- a lot of good people are doing a lot of good things around America related to our old barns and you'll enjoy getting to know them a bit.

So thanks for clicking in and, again, for being someone who cares about all of this old barns stuff

In closing
Thanksgiving is here this week and what a perfect time to gather and join together with family and friends to acknowledge the good things we have to celebrate in life. In spite of the many diverse challenges that will always be there in our lives and in our World, we have this opportunity to step back, take stock of things and be thankful.    

                                                  God Bless Us Everyone

                                   Mac the Dog, saying "Happy Thanksgiving!"




Friday, November 22, 2013

Help bring the new old barns show to your local PBS station!

An earlier post had mentioned the PBS stations and markets penetrated/gained so far by the newest  'American Barn Stories' episode and also encouraged people/YOU to contact your local PBS provider to ask that the series be made available on your local PBS air.  

This post makes it easy for you to contact your local PBS stations across the country wherever you are in America -- CALL THEM -- numbers are available at the link below.  

Click on this link to find contact info for your local PBS station:

Do This
Call your local PBS station as per below and ask for 'Programming', be nice, have fun with it, rattle their cage on it, and tell them you want to see the, "American Barn Stories and Other Tales From the Heartlands" series on your local PBS station! 

And here's another link, Wiki, showing a state-by-state look at the PBS stations around the country -- it has no contact info, just markets info, but it's interesting if you're so inclined:

And if you're not in America, find the shows on Amazon at:!shop/c161y  and stay tuned, we're coming to Europe and the UK in the future!

Here's the list of PBS stations having taken on the HDCam Closed-Captioned Master so far with a couple of new additions (Urbana and Peoria, Illinois USA) and more coming:

PBS Markets penetrated so far

Seventeen national PBS markets gained with another thirteen markets viewing screeners for consideration of air, and more after them as more phone calls and follow-ups go out.

HDCam Closed-Captioned Master recorded for air:

Chicago WYCC Channel 20

Milwaukee WMVS/WMVT Channels 10 & 36

Minneapolis Twin Cities Public Television/TPT

Illinois Public Media WILL-TV Urbana, Illinois

Iowa Public Television

Kansas City Public Television

Oklahoma Public Television 

Denver Pubic Television

Seattle Public Television

Western Michigan PBS WGVU

North Carolina PBS UNC-TV

New Orleans Public Television

Florida PBS stations: WEDU/Tampa, WGCU/Fort Myers, WEFS/Cocoa, WLRN/Miami  WDSC/Daytona


PBS Stations Viewing Screeners for Consideration of Air: 

KLRU Austin, Texas

Arizona/Phoenix PBS

Oregon/Portland PBS

Idaho PBS

Hawaii PBS

North Dakota/Fargo PBS

Pennsylvania/Bethlehem PBS 

South Carolina PBS 

Virginia/Richmond PBS

Nashville PBS

Georgia PBS

New Hampshire PBS

Cleveland PBS 


Thank you 

Thanks for being one of the so many people who appreciate what our old barns have to offer and represent to us. Once they are gone they are gone forever and our local barn and farm family histories will disappear along with them. Let's keep on and do our best to capture as many old barns stories as possible while we still can --  thanks for your help with it along the way!

Wrap Up
These pics are from an old fashioned barn raising in Edgerton, Wisconsin USA a while back with a two-horse hitch team working to raise the bents. Watch for it in the next 'American Barn Stories and Other Tales From the Heartlands' program -- it was a great down-home day in America's Heartland!

 More later on it all, thanks for clicking in, and what fun, eh?

      Tom (and Arthur -- talked to him last night-- he's doing OK)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Save money in the American Barn Stories shop!

Having posted last evening I would not ordinarily be doing so again just 24 hours later, but  some of you will probably find this interesting as it's about SAVING MONEY!

Spreadshirt, the fulfillment company for the American Barn Stories shop, put out an email today offering 15% off of everything for the coming week of 11/19-11/24 so I wanted to let you all know about it -- it comes right off the top and is deducted at Checkout.  Maybe you can pick up an old barns sweatshirt/T-shirt thing or two that's just right for someone you know this Christmas!

At Checkout use the discount code WITHLOVE and the 15% will be automatically deducted.

         Click on the link below or Copy/Paste to Shop!


                     Or go to '' and click on the 'Shop' button

                          Any questions get in touch at

                                  Yep, all good -- keep on -- more later on it all --












Monday, November 18, 2013

Alaskan Inputs

Do you know any Eskimos? I do not. And I'm guessing Art the Farmer doesn't, either. 

 So as I happened to read a story about a couple who had gone up to Alaska and built a 12'x12' cabin in the Brooks Range to move into back in the 1970s, I was intrigued. They spent twenty years living there and named their cabin, "Koviashuvik", which is an Eskimo word meaning, "Living in the present moment with quiet joy and contentment".

I read that article back in the 1980s and the word 'Koviashuvik' and its meaning stuck with me long after. 

So later, when a name was needed for the production company I was starting, the spirit of  'Koviashuvik' came back to mind and I settled on the name, 'Kovia Productions'

The name has served well over time and becomes even more pertinent now as the old barns series continues and grows. 

I believe the 'Koviashuvik' concept is what old barn lovers across America are about, except that their moments are no longer in the present as our old barns, in too many cases, continue to slip away forever, and that it is their thoughts and perceptions of how things used to be that they embrace. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's all good.

In the meantime, there are still many great old barn stories to capture and portray in this final era of our old American barns, and the "American Barn Stories" program will continue to bring those stories to viewers. 

Here's an Amazon link to the original 'Koviashuvik' book that started it all:

And here's a link to the original Kovia Productions website many years ago that I will keep up for legacy purposes:      

and the link to the new site supporting the shows   

Stay tuned for more on the old barns front, and thanks for clicking in,

         Tom, along with Art the Farmer   

PS -- Here's a glimpse at an old barn coming down soon in Wisconsin that had cow steps for the girls to get up into the barn some many years ago. This story will be included in an upcoming 'American Barn Stories' episode.






Thursday, November 14, 2013

  NOTE: Am trying to fix the light type challenge -- this is a follow up test post

How to 'Follow this Blog' (and also how to 'Comment')



After much knocking around on it I think I have the 'Follow' options in working order for the blog. I know I've said that before, but at the moment more time spent on it has produced better results and we might be good to go overall -- a bit more time will tell for sure.

So what I want to do here is provide a quick primer on how you can 'Follow' the blog if you want to. The benefits of Following for you are that the posts will then automatically come to you and you will be 'in the loop', so you won't have to worry about missing any of the posts, or otherwise have to go to the trouble of searching for a link somewhere 'out there' on the web. It's not hard -- here's what you do.

Looking at the blog page above notice the 'Subscribe/Follow' option in the upper right area of the page and the 'Follow by email' option just below it. Here it is closer up -- and the 'Blog Archive' below it is just that -- an archive of live links to past blog posts.




You can 'Subscribe/Follow' to the the Posts or Comments sections shown below by clicking on either and then choosing one of the options that drop down. The options are the same for both and are for a few 'reader' platforms that take the blog feed and make it available to you.





If you already have a Yahoo account you can use that, just click their logo from the drop down menu as shown above and they'll take you from there. The other options are  for Netvibes and Atom and with a quick look at both, Atom seemed to be more straightforward  but I'm honestly not sure. As you explore feel free to get in touch through the 'Comments' section available at the bottom of each post(explained below) to pass along any info on your adventure -- thanks. I truly hope the process is easy enough that people aren't challenged by it and turned off, so let's see what happens. 


                     And then for the 'Follow by email' option, 




Type in an email address, hit 'Submit' and you'll go to  a screen to type in the security letters and the set-up process will go from there and it's not too bad.




For the feed delivery this blog is starting with Feedburner. Think of it as the vehicle that takes the feed from the source and delivers it directly to your computer via email as a Subscriber.

Why Subscribe?

If you Subscribe the benefits to you are that you are now, 'in the loop' and the blog is delivered right to your door, and you are thereby assured that you won't miss a post and otherwise won't have to go searching somewhere 'out there' on the web to try and find some link somewhere.  

So for those wanting to 'Follow', the steps above should make that happen for you and again, if anyone has any hang ups or challenges with it get in touch and we'll do our old barns best to help you out. 


And How To 'Comment' On This Blog

The 'Comments' section is at the bottom of each post and is more obscure than seems right, but oh well, here's what it looks like at the bottom of each post



and you just click on the '0 comments' spot and you'll be taken to a Comments page where you can add your inputs.



OK, I hope this info helps anyone having had challenges with these areas. Feel free to get in touch now that the lines seem to be open -- and you can also always use the 'Contact Us' page on the American Barn Stories website at!contact-us/c15n8    


Next Time  

There are a few things/subjects on the docket for  upcoming posts, including info on the three old barns shows available on DVD through Amazon. 

Hey, Christmas is coming, nice stocking stuffers!



You can find the shows at!shop/c161y   And notice the DISCOUNT for buying all three!


Alright then, more later, thanks for clicking in and talk to you all again real soon.