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McFarland Ranch seeks community support for new barn

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Posted: Friday, July 29, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 12:35 pm, Mon Jul 29, 2013.

McFarland Ranch is about as authentic as it comes. Every inch of space on the ranch has a history, from the wood of the Victorian-style house to the buggy housed in the metal barn a stone's throw away from the main property.

But the barn, which has been standing in the same spot since 1947, is in need of repair.

Currently, the decades-old structure serves as a storage center for the ranch, housing everything from a tractor to a buggy that was once used to cart families around.

The space could be better utilized, especially since there has been an increase in foot traffic over the past few years, said Ron Jacobson, head of the ranch's restoration efforts.

Not only would a new barn be a good place for meetings and wedding receptions, but it would also mean teachers would not have to cancel school field trips when it rains.

Students would be able to make wax candles, butter and cornhusk dolls, and be able to learn about the history of the ranch and their city — rain or shine.

But with Jacobson's desire to keep things as authentic as possible, the project is not going to be cheap.

According to Bobbie Koger, the ranch's historian, the cost of building a new barn would be approximately $500,000.

"We recycle and rebuild here," Jacobson said. "But I want to do everything like (John) McFarland did. I'd rather bite the bullet and do it the original way."

Staying true to the idea of "rebuild and recycle" on the ranch, Jacobson added that the current barn will be moved just north of its current location and will still serve as a storage space.

To try to build the ranch the old-fashioned way, Koger and the rest of the Galt Area Historical Society will hold a wine-tasting benefit on Saturday to raise money to help move the building project along.

But planning the event has proven to be financially challenging, Koger said.

Between providing adequate food and drink as well as silverware for the guests, Koger said she is just hoping the society can break even.

"The barn would add to the spirit of the ranch even more," she said. "We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping the word gets out, so that each year we are adding more supporters to help us out."

In addition raising enough money for the project, McFarland Ranch operates on a volunteer-only basis, meaning Jacobson and others would need to round up as many hands as possible to help build the new barn, a process that would take about six months to complete once all of the funds have been raised.

Galt city manager Jason Behrmann said he was "proud" of the efforts that have gone into restoring the property thus far, and that the city has already been a part of restoration efforts by giving the ranch $10,000 a year in donations.

"(McFarland Ranch) is a real treasure, and adding a barn that could serve as a community space would only add value to the property," he said. "I know Galt residents would not be the only ones who would enjoy using the new space."

Contact Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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