We have an old, two-story dairy barn on our farm that was built in 1933. The bottom story is where we have our dairy cows, along with some calves. The second story is where we store our baled hay and cornstalk bedding. Our barn is 38 feet wide and has two large beams running lengthwise down through the barn to hold up the second story. The two large beams have 4-inch hollow steel posts supporting them at approximately every 8 feet.

Tom Heck, his wife, Joanne, and their two children own and operate a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Ord...

When the second story of the barn – the haymow – is full, there is a tremendous amount of weight up there that these posts have to hold up. I knew the posts holding up the east beam were getting pretty rusty and thin on their bottom 8 inches. So, in the summer when the haymow was almost empty, we started to jack up the large beam to take one post out at a time and examine it. I figured there were probably a number of posts on that beam that were all right to leave. However, the only way to know which ones were good and which ones were bad was to take each one out and examine it closely.

Several years ago, we had something happen that has puzzled us all these years. We were baling hay one day and had the north end of the haymow almost full. I came in with another wagonload of hay and the kids came out of the haymow and said, “The haymow dropped down when we were up there. We felt it go!” I quickly ran down to the first floor of the barn wondering on the way if I would find broken joists or the main beams collapsed on the north end, with dead cattle lying underneath them. What a terrifying thought! I got down there and everything looked perfectly all right. I questioned the kids on it further; they insisted they felt it drop and were also expecting to find broken joists or a main beam broken down. We looked and looked at it and could find nothing amiss, for which I was very thankful but totally puzzled.

Now, here we were several years later starting to take the posts out on the north end of the barn, and we were shocked at what we found. The three north posts were just standing on the concrete floor, not fastened to it at all. They were really rusty and thin on the bottom. What had happened when the kids felt the haymow drop was that, in a split second of time, those three north posts had their bottoms crunch together about 3 inches. What is incredible is that they didn’t kick out sideways and have the haymow up above all come down. We pray every day for God to protect us and our farm, and He most certainly does. That is the only explanation I have for no one or anything getting hurt or killed that day. I’ve told construction workers since then what happened, and they shake their heads in disbelief.

We replaced those three posts and kept heading down through the barn. The fourth post down was one I had done some work on years before, so it was in fairly good condition and held when the three north of it had crunched together. I thought, to be on the safe side, it would be wise to replace it too. As we headed down through the barn, we were surprised to find some of the posts were cemented right into the concrete but were virtually rusted off. We were amazed when we saw the condition they were in and that they held the haymow up like they had. We ended up replacing all the posts on that side of the barn with super heavy-duty galvanized posts that are supposed to last 50 to 100 years.


It was a lot of hard work. We cut some of the old posts out with a large hand grinder and busted cement out, along with doing work on the main beam up above. The new posts, we cut to just the right length and then fastened them all with base plates to the concrete floor. To fasten the base plates, we used a hammer drill to drill holes in the concrete and then drove in concrete anchors. It was not easy and it took us over a week to get it all done. We did an excellent job, and now we have the peace of mind of knowing it is safe to put a lot of baled hay up in the mow again.

The most memorable part of the project occurred when I was busting out concrete with a large iron bar. It was very hard work and right in the middle of it, I said to the kids, “Wouldn’t you rather be up at the lake fishing, trying to catch ‘Big Daddy’ instead of doing this?” Their response surprised me, “No, this is far more interesting, and it needs to get done!” With the sweat running down my face I smiled and thought what wonderful godly kids I am blessed with.

I’m glad the Lord has answered my prayers and helped me be a good dad to my children over the years. Without knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior, reading my Bible and praying daily, I would never have been a good father to my children. I’m sure they would have never turned out as well as they have. Jesus has made the difference in our lives, and I know He can and will in yours if you will call out to Him.