A Real-Life Episode of Dirty Jobs

When we started making our plan for renovations, we talked a lot about all of the fun, exciting (and noticeable) parts of the journey - adding shiplap, new barn floor, light fixtures, and barn doors. The reality? SO much prep work. Looking back, I would definitely say we underestimated the time it would take to clean everything. About 100 years of dirt, grime, bird poop, spiders, you know, the works, takes a long time to make pretty. "Dirty Jobs" was definitely Phase One - let's break it down.


It smelled. How else do I say it nicely? I don't think I can. It wasn't a rustic barn smell either, it was mice and birds and probably a lot more critters that I don't even want to put myself through thinking about. The first day we swept the floor, there were dust clouds floating the air for about three hours. Ben and I were blowing black out of our noses for a few days. We felt so accomplished as we were carrying out our 4th rain barrel full of dirty, hay and grime, but little did we know this would be the first of at least fifty more times of sweeping the floor.

If you didn't notice all of the bird poop spattering the walls and beams in the photo above, now you will. This carries us to phase two of cleaning the barn - power washing. Let me tell you, it was wet, gross and seemed never-ending. I think this was the part where "dirty jobs" became the biggest reality. It took about six nights of work after work, and required a 45-minute shower afterward.

What we didn't know was the amount of water that would pool up in low spots of the OSB barn floor, so we spent quite a bit of time pushing it to the low spots so it could drain into the stalls beneath the barn. It also caused a brief scare, because the OSB got soft in some spots and we weren't sure it would dry. We were patient, and thankfully it did end up drying.

Bridal Suite

The bridal suite was basically a carbon copy of the barn in terms of the cleaning list - clean off the dust (to put it nicely), take the shelves out and clean the floors. The downside, however, was that we couldn't power wash it. And the week we were working on it, it was bout 95 degrees outside.

After we cleared out the shelving and cabinets, we used a little corn broom and brushed through webs, mouse poop and a lot of dirt. It was already smelling better. We later decided to replace the insulation, so we were able to get pretty much every inch of the room cleaned. And the smell? Much, much better.

Groom's Bar

With this space, we kind of felt like we caught a break. The previous owner's used this space for parties, so for the most part it didn't require any deep cleaning. Besides, any floor dirt was pretty much washed out in the flood that happened in early March from the rapid snow melt. A little nerve wracking, but all ended up okay.

The biggest challenge with this space was refurbishing the beams back to the original wood. They were painted white and we were very adamant about sanding them down and letting the wood make a statement. We tried a couple of different methods: natural paint stripper, metal grinder, orbital sander and sandpaper grinder. The last solution was the winner, but caused a few sparks and a lot of sawdust in the eyes because of the close proximity and rapid sanding.

Cleaning was definitely not the prettiest part of this renovation process, but without it, the rest of the exciting stuff couldn't happen. I'm hoping this blog post is finished forever and no more cleaning needs to be done, but it's a big property and we have a lot of buildings so I'm not going to hold my breath!

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W3071 County Road B

Hilbert, WI 54129


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