Friday, March 16, 2012

A Corn Crib

Corn cribs have fascinated me for a number of years now, so I was determined to capture images of one on a neighboring property.  I was told by a friend that this structure, which dates to around 1860, looked rickety and on the brink of falling over, but was quite sturdy and would probably stand for many more decades to come.

When I arrived at the farm I was greeted with a disheveled looking corn house constructed of wood that had seen better days.  I was in love!  I began asking my friend Paul all about the corn crib and its history.  Corn cribs were originally built on working farms to store & dry whole corn, still on the cob, with or without the husk.  Although the design of these structures varied from place to place, they all shared similar characteristics.  Slatted walls on all four sides were a must and all were elevated off the ground.  Although corn cribs are no longer needed, even for the gentleman farmer, it's nice to see the ones that are still standing on properties who care about history & conservation.  Have a look at my recent discovery.

 
This wooden corn crib is about 15 feet long, by 4 feet wide (at its widest point) and about 11 feet tall.  Painted white to match the workshop next door, the corn house stands proudly along the driveway to the farm.


 Walls which angle inward were a typical design element for this type of granary.  The slatted walls allowed for good air circulation around the entire structure, essential for drying out corn.  The entire corn crib was elevated to keep critters from getting into the corn and destroying it; every corn crib was designed this way.   

The two small 'access doors' at the very top allowed a farmer to drop in corn from the day's harvest without having to open the front door. 

The inside of the corn house, now being used to house some odds & ends, clearly shows how the walls angle inward.  It's amazing to me how this woodwork (all original) has survived since the 1860s. 


The roof itself is fairly new.  I'm told that it has to be replaced every 20-30 years or so in order to keep the entire structure intact.

Look at this doorway.  This entrance has seen better days, but to my mind, it is beautiful.


A giant pin oak tree standing along the driveway sits proudly at the entrance to the farm.  I'm not sure if it's been here since the 1800s (probably not), but it sure is beautiful to behold in all its splendid glory.  It must be at least 80 feet tall.



Corn cribs were an essential element of working farms in this country from colonial times through the early 20th century.  Early settlers learned how to properly store their corn from native Americans who had already been using this technique.  Corn crib granaries made it possible for farmers to feed their animals & grind the dried corn for meal.  It was up to the housewife to get many as many uses out of corn for the household.  She had to know how to properly separate the starch from the corn (soaking the kernels and letting the starch settle at the bottom of the bowl, then carefully removing it & letting the cakes dry completely) for kitchen use.  Although many corn cribs haven't survived the ravages of time, I'm glad I was able to explore one that has.  Corn cribs (also known as corn houses) are a part of this country's rich history.  I hope you enjoyed discovering this one with me.   

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