1902 Encyclopedia > Agriculture > Farm Buildings - Principles of Arrangement

(Part 13)


Principles of Arrangement

The barn, with its thrashing-machinery, and other appurtenances, naturally forms the nucleus of the homestead, and regulates the distribution of the other building. The command of water-power will often determine the exact site of the barn, and indeed of the whole buildings. The cheapness and safety of this motive-power render it well worth while to make considerable sacrifices to secure it, when a really sufficient and regular supply of it can be had. But the difficulty of securing this when the adjoining lands are thoroughly drained, and the great efficiency and facility of application of steam-power, are good reasons why precarious supplies of water-power should now be rated very differently than they were when a horse-wheel or windmill were the only alternatives. A very usually and suitable arrangement is to have the whole buildings, forming a lengthened parallelogram, facing south or southeast; the barn being placed in the centre of the north range, with the engine-house behind it, and the strawhouse at tight angles in front, with doors on both sides for the ready conveyance of little and fodder to the yards, &c. It is always advantageous to have the barn of sufficient height to afford ample accommodation to the thrashing and winnowing machinery. When the disposition of the ground admits, it is a great convenience to have the stackyard on a level with the upper barn, so that the unthrashed corn may be wheeled into it on barrows, or on a low-wheeled truck drawn by a horse. Failing this, the sheaves are usually pitched in at a wide opening from a framed cart. The space on which the cart stands while this is going on is usually paved, that loose ears and scattered grain may be gathered up without being soiled; and it is a further improvements to have it covered by some simple roof, to protect the sheaves from sudden rain.

It is a good arrangement to have the straw-barn fitted up with a loft, on the level of the opening at which the straw is discharged from the thrashing-mill, so as to admit of fodder being stored above and little below. A sparred trap-door in front of the shaker retains the straw above or lets it fall to the ground as required. This upper floor of the straw-barn is the most convenient place for fixing a chaff-cutter to be driven by the thrashing-power. The granary should communicate with the upper barn, that the dressed grain may be raised to it by machinery.

A loft over the engine-room, communicating with the upper barn and granary, forms a suitable place for fixing a grinding-mill, bruising rollers, and cake-breakers, as it is affords opportunity for having these machine easily connected with the stream-power. It suits well to have the house in which cattle food is cooked attached to and under the same roof as the engine-house. One coal store and chimney thus serves for both. Over this cooking-house, and communicating with the grinding-loft, may advantageously be placed a kiln, to be heated by the waste steam from the engine. An open shed outside the barn, for the accommodation of a circular saw, is also desideratum. By the aid of the latter machine and a hardy labourer, the timber required for ordinary repairs on the farm may be cut out at trifling expenses.

The cattle-housing, of whatever description, where there are the largest and most frequent demands for straw, is placed nearest to the straw-house and in communication wit the turnip-stores, and the house (if any) in which food is cooked or otherwise prepared,. Where cattle are bred, the cow-house and calf-house are kept together. A roomy working court is always a great convenience, and it suits well to have the stable opening to it, and the cart-shed and tool-house occupying another side. Costly machines, such as corn-drills and reaping machines, require to be kept in a locked place, to preserve them from the collisions, and the loss or derangement of their minute parts, to which they are exposed in an open cart-shed.

An abundant supply of good water is a most important matter. The best source is from springs, at such an elevation as to admit of its being brought in a pipe, with a continuous flow. Failing this a well and pump is the usual alternative, although it is sometimes necessary to collect the rain-water from the roofs, and preserve it in a capacious and carefully-made tank. In every case it is desirable to have a regulating cistern, from which it is distributed by pipe to every part of the homestead where it is required. It is, in every case, of importance to have the eaves of the whole building spouted, and the rainwater carried where it can do no mischief. Where fattening cattle are kept in open yards with sheds, by spouting the eaves, and slightly hallowing the yards towards their centres, the urine to a large extent is absorbed by the litter, and retained in the manure. The effectual way, however, is to have the whole of the yards roofed over. The waste of food and litter, and the damage sustained alike by cattle and manure , from the excessive rainfall of winter 1872 – 3 , has probably done more than any amount of argument could do to convince farmer of this. If stall feeding is practiced, a pit is required, into which the sold dung is wheeled and the liquid conveyed by drains. Liquid manure tanks are at present in universal repute, but we shall endeavour to show, when treating of manures, that they are not such an indispensable appendage to a farm-yard as is generally asserted. In Scotland it is customary to carry the dung from the byres into a yard in which young cattle are kept, where it is daily spread about and subjected to further treading, along with such quantities of fresh litter as are deemed necessary. That form the stables is carried into the adjoining feeding-yard, and it is usually remarked that the cattle occupying it make more rapid progress than their neighbours.

An important part of the buildings of a farm are the cottages for its labourers. It is in all cases expedient to have the people required for the ordinary working of a farm resident upon it; and it is always much better to have families, each in its own cottage, than a number of young people boarded in the farm-kitchen, or with the farm-overseer. These cottages are usually a little removed from the other farm-buildings, and it is, on various accounts, better to have them so. There is, however, an advantage in having the cottages of the farm-steward and cattleman either within the courtyard , or close to its entrance, that these responsible functionaries may at all times be near their charge, and especially that they may be at hand when of the live stock require night attendance. As there are manifold advantages in having but one main entrance to the homestead, and that closed by a gate which can be locked at night, it will be obviously necessary to have the keep of the key close at hand to open the fate by night is requires. Much more attention than formerly is now paid to the construction of cottages. The apartments are better floored, higher in the roof, and so arranged as to secure comfort and decency. Besides a small garden, each cottage is usually provided with a pigsty and ash-pit and in some cases with a coal-place privy besides.

The position and style of the farmer’s dwelling also claims a remark here. The approved mode used to be, to place it either directly in front or near of the farm-yard, on the ground that the farmer would thus have this premises and cattle under his eye even when in his parlour or bedroom. As has been well remarked, "The advantages of this parlour-farming are not very apparent, the attendant evils glaringly so. If the condition of ready communication be obtained, farm-house should be placed where the amenities of a country residence can be best enjoyed." [Footnote 309-1] On all hands we now hear it urged, that it is only by men possessed of capital and intelligence that the business of farming can be rendered remunerative. Those who desire to have such men for tenants will be more likely to succeed by proving a commodious and comfortable farmery, pleasantly placed among trees an shrubs, than by setting it down in the precincts of the dung-heap.


309-1 For further information on Farm Buildings, see also Morton's Cyclopaedia of Agriculture, article "Farm Buildings," and The Book of Farm Buildings, by Henry Stephens and R. Scott Burn, Edinburgh, 1861.

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