From Grain Bin to Bed and Breakfast

Reader Contribution by Lori Shiflett
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The idea for a unit in the grain bin began with an article I had seen on the internet. I think it was MOTHER EARTH NEWS. We hadn’t used the bin for years and it was still in very good shape with no rust or leaks, so why not do it? When I told my youngest son, Lin, about it, he thought it sounded like a very interesting idea. He was in between jobs so he figured he could do the work and have it completed in two weeks. Wrong! He could do the work but completion would take another five months.

Feb. 11, my husband, Jack, and grandson, Kale, began taking the grain floor panels out. The next day, Kale and Lin scraped bushels of oats out that had fallen beneath the floor.

Feb. 21, Jack and Lin cut out the door and window spaces. They found that sawing steel wasn’t child’s work. The windows would measure from the floor to the ceiling and were installed the next day. It’s necessary to have plenty of light in a grain bin.

They found the concrete floor under the panels was solid and in very good condition, but needed about another 3 inches of concrete on top of that to keep the water from coming in. The concrete was ordered and our grandson, Nicholas, who pours beautiful patios professionally, offered to help with the job. Everything went beautifully until miss kitty decided to investigate after everyone had left. She left the cutest little paw prints you ever saw in the wet concrete. Now the floor, which I had painted, will have her imprint for life. It actually creates quite a conversation piece.

March 7, the lumber arrived. Let’s see — we started February 11 and it’s now March 7, umm, so much for the two-week deal. Little did Lin and Jack realize the challenges of a round house. No corners to measure from. Jack had been in construction 40 years and Lin 20 years, but this was something they had never encountered — measuring in circles.

March 10, the downstairs studs and ceiling joists were installed. The worst was yet to come. How do you build a staircase in a circle up the side of a wall? For two days the work involved only brain power. Nothing was accomplished. While they sat and thought, my Grandson-in-law, Will Jarboe, came and dug the trenches and installed the plumbing with the help of my son-in-law, James Shiflett. Finally, the light came on how they could build those steps. What a relief, and it worked!

Our oldest son Rich installed the electricity, and the insulators were ready to blow in the closed-cell foam insulation. That is wonderful stuff. The grain bin is quiet and it keeps the bin cool in the summer with only a 120-volt air conditioner. We’re told it won’t take much to heat it, either.

Applying the sheetrock was an experience for men with a lot of patience. They wet it a little, then carefully pushed it into position and nailed it without it breaking. It took about four men carefully pushing and one nailing. Again, there were no corners to butt up against, just a constant.

That all done, it was time to tape and mud the sheetrock. My suggestion was to hire someone who was professional. Jack and Lin readily agreed and we were blessed again with the best. Two young men with Rodenberg Sheetrocking came and did an absolute perfect job applying a beautiful texture on the walls. Oldest son Rich came back and did the painting in tones of beige, then the carpet was laid and the bin was completed by June 23! It took a little longer than two weeks, but it is an outstanding piece of work and people come from far and wide to see it and have the unusual experience of staying in a grain bin. It completes the second unit to my Granny’s Country Cottage Bed & Breakfast. 

Photos from Lori Shiflett