Erker’s 100-year old barn anchors farm
The red barn on Leon Erker’s farm near Wiggins, Colo., has been the site of Halloween parties and dances in the loft and numerous hot, dirty summers spent stacking hay in the same loft.
Built in 1919, the deed has the names of the original homesteader, Bill Epple Sr., and his namesake who inherited it. The only other names are Erker’s and Woodrow Wilson, the 28th U.S. president who was in the White House at the time it was built.
Erker purchased the farm in 1976, knowing it well from the years he and his brother helped the Epples stack hay. The original home, located just south of the barn, was razed after Erker built a new home overlooking the barn in the 1990s. A windmill and yellow roses remain in what was the yard.
Erker farmed and ran cattle in partnership with his brother, Stanley, until his brother’s death in 2015. The alfalfa and cattle operations were scaled back, though Erker continues to raise wheat in an area known for impressive dryland crops.
The barn includes horse stalls, once used for the horses that farmed the fields, now worn smooth around the hay feeders. Like many barns of the era, people could access the loft by a ladder on the wall and then fork hay into mangers below. Erker said the east side was added later and had to be stabilized.
The barn is still in use, housing the occasional cow calf pair or providing shelter from winter storms. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 392-4410.