The Barn at Longfurrow Farm, Dennison, MN

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Al and Gretchen Quie Farm, 1961.

Our family farm was named almost a century ago by my father's sister. It was the fall of the year and as she walked to the mailbox on the northeast corner of the farm, she observed our team plowing a furrow almost a mile long. She exclaimed, "What a long furrow" and the name stuck.

In January 1862 Grandfather Halvor enlisted with the Second Minnesota Sharpshooters and was wounded in the heel on September 22, 1862 in the Battle of Antietam. After spending time in a Maryland hospital he returned home in 1863 and taught school since his wound kept him from following the plow. Grandfather Havor married Anne Finseth and their first child Ellen was born in 1865. My father Albert Knute Quie was born in 1885 and passed away in 1978, two days after I was elected governor of Minnesota.

The Barn and Memories

I believe that the barn was built before 1870 when my grandfather was beginning his married life and farming career. The foundation of locally quarried limestone extended about six feet above the ground. The floor joists were oak logs flattened on one side that fitted into notches in the sill plate and were secured by wood pegs. The 12" x 12" pine beams were 20' long and framed the hay mow as well as the basement. The oak probably came from the "Big Woods" of southeastern Minnesota that began a mile west of our farm and the white pine from northern Minnesota since pine isn't native to the Dennison area.

The barn's exterior sheathing was 12" board and battens held in place with square cut nails. The barn's original dimensions were 40' x 60' and 40' x 78' after my father added 18' to the barn in 1918; I added another 100' in 1963.

In the fall the mow was filled with hay right up to or above the beams. The beams ranged from 12" wide to 6" or 9" wide and over the driveway only 4" wide. It was here that brother Paul and I played a dangerous game of tag. Obviously balance was easiest on the widest beams. If one fell in the fall of the year it was only into the hay except over the driveway where there was a 20' drop. In the fall we never had the nerve to cross the narrow driveway beam but as the hay level declined our courage and ability increased and by late spring we ran on those beams with abandon. Falling in most of the barn would mean a 20' drop and I must admit the 4" beams slowed us down a bit.

A hay lifting system from the 1908 Sears catalog.

Hay carrier and hay sling.

There was a steel track at the peak of the barn on which the hay carrier ran that pulled up slings of loose hay from the wagon in the driveway. The hay carrier was pulled along the track to the place we tripped the sling to drop the bundle of hay. During our games two ropes hung from the hay carrier over one of our running beams. Part of the tag game was to grab a rope and swing across to the other beam either to get away from the pursuer or to head off the fleeing brother. It wasn't easy to reverse direction when running at full speed on a narrow beam.

I can recall the sounds of joy and pursuit that emanated from the hay mow when the Quie children were playing as well as the fracas when the rules were thought to have been broken. Sometimes a wrestling match in the loose hay resolved the differences. It's amazing that no injuries resulted from these games.

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