Inside the barn at Nettle Meadow Farm
An extensive renovation of a towering, historic barn is nearly complete at Nettle Meadow Farm, and the public is invited to attend an unveiling of the structure at the farm’s annual Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday Oct. 12.
In conjunction with the Thurman Fall Farm Tour, this event includes the grand opening of the farm’s new cheese shop. Admission is free, and visitors can enjoy farm tours, cheese tastings, a children’s activity tent and live music from noon to 2:30 p.m.
Built in 1903 by local architect Edmund Barber, the landmark barn boasts a gambrel roof, atypical of barns in the region. Many visitors have talked about how this three-story barn was state-of-the-art in its era.
Many decades ago, the structure served as a horse barn for Meadowbrook Stock Farm, in an era when good horses were the currency of farming. Nettle Meadow has been farmed since the Johnson family, proprietors of Meadowbrook, bought it from John Thurman, the town’s founder, back in the late 1700s.
When Nettle Meadow owners Sheila Flanagan and Lorraine Lambiase bought the farm in 2005, the old barn sagged although it still possessed much of its architectural grandeur. After Hurricane Irene in 2011, the barn suffered more deterioration.
About a year ago after achieving success making and selling award-winning cheeses nationally, Flanagan and Lambiase took on the project of reconstructing the barn, with the assistance of family members, neighbors, visitors and Farm Credit East.
With the help of their friend and local contractor Ed Carpenter, who initially shored up the old barn in 2005 to keep it from collapsing, Flanagan and Lambiase secured the services of Andy Leblanc, a barn restorer from Indian Lake. Andy repaired and replaced the timbers one-by-one and constructed new floors, walls and installed windows until the old barn was whole again — but roof repair remained. Flanagan and Lambiase hired local residents Joel and Aaron Mosher who replaced the roof and its perlings and trusses individually until the roof line was straight again and the leaking stopped.
Once holding prize livestock, the vintage barn is now host to Flanagan and Lambiase’s Joseph F. Kemp Memorial Animal Sanctuary, housing animals too disabled or elderly to be productive.
“The cast of rescue animals who have lived there is large and each animal’s story is endearing,” Sheila Flanagan said this week, noting the creatures include two donkeys that were found wandering in Brooklyn.
People attending Nettle Meadow’s open house are welcome to ask about the life stories of the creatures and their farm operations, Flanagan said.
“We all hope you will come join us for the unveiling of our restored barn,” she said.
For details and directions to the farm on South Johnsburg Road, call 623-3372 or see: www.nettlemeadowfarm.com.