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With about a $23,000 investment, Neil Lensing (shown with wife Karla) created a much-needed shop and woodworking room from a former farrowing house-turned-dairy calf shed that would still stand empty today if it weren’t for the Fort Atkinson, Iowa, farmer’s innovative engineering.
The original structure was a 25×50-foot building that Lensing’s father, Gordon, erected in 1961 for farrowing. “In 1978, my dad and I remodeled that into a dairy calf shed,” Lensing says. “I quit milking in 2004, and there that shed sat gathering cobwebs.”
So in 2006, Lensing scared away the spiders, gutted the old structure, and attached a 16-foot-wide by 22-foot-long structure to the side of the calf barn. The result was a 47-foot-deep shop with a 12-foot overhead door.
That renovation was easier said than done. First, the calf feeding floor in the old building had to come out. Next, Lensing cut a 16-foot-wide opening in the right side of the shed.
“I cut the foundation under that part of the building and tore open the wall. A bulldozer dug the dirt out behind that foundation,” he says. “We poured a cement floor in that area before adding the new 16×22-foot building.”
Today, that area serves as a shop. The remainder of the floor space in the old calf barn is Lensing’s woodworking shop.