Amish barn raising



by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: February 22, 2015 12:06AM_MG_0786

Watch an Amish barn raising on the video at

Peninsula — The Chinese call 2015 the year of the sheep, but it’s the year of the barn raising for Spicy Lamb Farm.

A fire destroyed the Spicy Lamb Farm barn and corn crib March 4, 2014. In addition to the buildings, all the equipment, inventory, blankets, tools, feed and veterinary and other livestock supplies were lost.

It’s been a very long year without a barn,” said owner Laura DeYoung. “Not only equipment for the farm but everything in the garage was lost. This [fire] wiped us out.”

At the time, DeYoung said she needed to raise $150,000 to rebuild the barn. The price went to $250,000 and will go higher before everything is completed. Money was raised through special events at the farm such as adopting a sheep, shearing a sheep and custom made blankets. DeYoung wants to thank the individuals and companies, especially JoAnn Stores Inc. for donations to the barn raising.

“We have enough to get it done and will do details as we have visitors come to the farm,” she said. “It’s going to be a nice barn, and everyone has been supportive.”

DeYoung met with architect Mark Smith in March of 2014 to draw up plans. Although the barn was not a historical structure, DeYoung said the main barn would be historically accurate for 1914 with functional wings.

The barn is 42 feet long, 30 feet wide and approximately 24 feet high, Smith said. He drew up the plans based on photographs of the 1914 previous barn and consulted with Amish builder Abe Troyer of Timber Framing in Orrville, who uses a barn building technique where a tenon rail is inserted into a square mortise hole and pinned in place with wooden pegs. The wood was measured and pre-cut with some field cut before final fitting. The green white oak will dry and expand for a tight fit.

“It’s the old style of barn raising,” said Mark Hammer of Hammer Construction. He built the foundation with concrete block and a row of faux sandstone. The barn will have electric and plumbing.

Troyer has a crew of four working on the project, which started Feb. 9. By Wednesday the framing of the walls was complete and the rafters were being added. Cold weather will delay work.

Smith had designed conversion barns and was familiar with barn designs in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The barn is made of construction type IV heavy timber and designed for future use as an assembly meeting room, he said.

The design had to be approved by three organizations — the Ohio Preservation Office, the Regional National Park office in Omaha, Nebraska and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park office, which approved the plans a few weeks ago.

“It’s been a long time to get approval, but we’re there and its happening as quickly as possible,” DeYoung said.

The barn will utilize different woods with white oak for the frame, poplar for the rafters and hemlock for the vertical siding.

The middle or open bay area will have sliding doors on the north and south ends. A shop for selling items will be located on the west end and have a glass garage door which can be opened in nice weather. On the same end will be a shepherd’s room for taking care of the animals. On the east end will be three horse stalls and a tack room.

The old barn stone will be used in landscaping and create a place for special occasions. DeYoung and her fiance Michael Minnig will marry Sept. 10 in a pergola in front of the pond. Although they met in 1978 at the Portage Country Club, each went separate ways. When Minnig recently returned to Ohio, he found DeYoung and proposed within two hours.

Spicy Lamb Farm, located on 11 acres on the north end of Akron-Peninsula Road, accessed off Boston Mills Road in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, is one of about a dozen farms in the Countryside Initiative, which allows farmers to enter a long-term lease on land in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

DeYoung secured a 60-year lease in August 2007. She raises Dorset sheep for meat and wool which normally have twins. She added two Highland heifers, Rosie and Susie this year.

In the beginning, DeYoung made mistakes but has learned the history, the industry and the breed of sheep and encourages education. The Ohio Sheep Improvement Association is one place to start.

“My advice is to get a mentor,” DeYoung said. “There are tons of resources and people are willing to help you.”

Visitors can go to for updates and visiting hours.


Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP