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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Big Raise Schmeddings’ Dream Barn Finally A Reality With Help From The Entire Family

Floyd Schmedding’s barn stretches so high, it invites a crook in your neck. It’s so big, that even packed with 35 tons of hay, there’s room for a game of three-on-three basketball inside. And it’s so, well, friendly, that dance music whispers, although the construction crew won’t lay the floor boards until next summer.

“I can imagine when we have a big family gathering, this barn will be romping,” Schmedding said.

The barn is a big red dream for Schmedding. It’s a family project. A childhood thing.

Never mind the practicality of hay storage, the convenience of shelter for early calves, the joy of a place to shoot baskets. “I had to have the building,” he explained.

The construction crew was mostly family, some friends. The mainstays were Schmedding, who’s an accountant; his wife, Linda, who was the crew cook; his daughter Sarah, 20, a professional boxer; and “the grandfathers,” as Sarah calls them, 84-year-old Harry Schmedding, Floyd’s father, and 72-year-old Bernard Schutte, Floyd’s father-in-law. And Eric Leavell, a friend whom Floyd credits with having expertise, tools, courage and savvy. “I’m indebted to him.”

Schmedding, 48, started on the barn four years ago. It’ll be done, loft and all, next summer.

First came the tough job of choosing a design. Nowadays, new barns are metal-skinned, broad, low. “And ugly,” Schmedding said.

In thorough, accountant style, he drew 20-odd designs, pulled over on umpty-two roads to study the round roofs, the broad roofs, even the falling-in roofs of yesteryear’s barns.

The work occured mostly on weekends. When the crew was framing in the barn this spring and summer, the structure looked like the ribcage of a rural cathedral. They grew used to nosy souls turning up the driveway, just south of Seltice Road. One fellow drove right up inside the barn, while Floyd and his helpers were passing 3-by-8s over-head. “I hollered at him to get out of the way, before we dropped one and beaned him,” Schmedding said.

More than one visitor asked, “Can you build one for me?”

Fat chance. Schmedding’s not into setting trusses, or straddling cupolas on a windy day for money. He set, and then reset, the octagonal windows on the ends of the barn, not just to be good enough, but to be just right.

Floyd, Linda and their three daughters have 30 acres in the pretty Greenacres valley, with cows and calves, and sometimes horses.

They also own part of a pond. “The tail end,” as Floyd put it. He ushered a visitor up a ladder, up the tiers of hay bales to one of the small square windows set up high. There, through the window you can see the pond, animals grazing, and timber marching down the hill. Much of the surrounding land is wet enough to be unbuildable, and that suits Schmedding just fine.

“I’m not an environmentalist per se, but I’ll protect that wetland,” Floyd said.

The fragrance of alfalfa was all around, and the chilly wind couldn’t work its way into this corner up under the roof. So, Floyd and his visitor settled in, atop the hay bales.

He told about ordering the 10-inch white pine siding from a mill in Kamiah, Idaho, then waiting from November until March or April for the order to be ready. But that didn’t matter so much, because it took him until June to get his brother, Larry, to drive down and pick up the siding.

Somehow, talk in the barn wove its way into childhood memories and philosophizing about raising children.

Basketball is a big game for the Schmeddings. Floyd coached YMCA basketball for 11 years - “I get called ‘coach’ in the weirdest places.”

“I got into it for my children. Then after a while, I wasn’t into for them, so much as all the kids. And that’s when it really became good for my kids.”

On his own early years:

“Everything about my childhood was positive.” With seven children and a truck farm to work in Veradale, no one was idle.

In those days, homes were few in the hills. Only the Courchaine homestead, just up the draw, was snugged into the hills. Nowadays, five and 10-acre lots are swallowing up the land.

“When we were kids, we went hunting up here,” he said, gesturing to the woods and hills beyond the pond.

“And if anybody yelled at us, we knew it wasn’t because they were being stingy. It was because we were doing something wrong.”

Ask Floyd if he has special memories about barns in his childhood, he comes up with one: His mother, Eleanor Schmedding, was entertaining visitors, and the children were in the way.

“She said, ‘Why don’t you kids go throw rocks at the barn.’ “Well, we did. And we broke every window in that barn,” Schmedding said, shaking his head over the mischief.

Work on his big red barn isn’t done yet.

The windows need trimming. The doors need building. The floorboards will be 3-by-8’s, both in the loft and on the floor. Floyd is still tweaking his engineering plans so that his loft will carry a winter’s worth of hay.

And of course, someone has to hang the basketball hoop.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 6 Color Photos

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