An ode to the farm shop

An ode to the farm shop
Jan 11, 2021

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Producers highlight what makes their individual shops special

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

For farmers, a shop can be more than just a place to repair machinery.

Just ask Tarin Tiefenthaler, a cash crop producer from Carroll, Iowa.

“It’s an extension of the home and becomes your dining room at certain time of the year, an emergency room if there’s a cut on someone’s finger and where my kids (with husband Ryan) go on a rainy day to ride their bikes and play with our dog,” she told

The Tiefenthaler shop sits right in the middle of the farmyard.

It’s an old chicken house that’s been moved and renovated. The walls are about one-foot (0.3-metres) thick, which helps keep the structure warm in the winter and cool in the summer, Tiefenthaler said.

Every farmer will lay out his or her farm shop differently, but Tiefenthaler provided some tips on items her family’s shop has that have been beneficial for the family farm.

“You’ve got to have good shelving,” she said. “With all the tools and parts coming in and out of the shop, you need a place to store them properly. Good shelving also helps keep the floors from becoming cluttered and helps keep people safe when walking inside.”

Investing in lighting to ensure good visibility is another thing to consider, she said.

Tiefenthaler also has a suggestion for a tool setup every farmer should have in his or her shop.

“An air hose on a hose reel with an air compressor,” she said. “And make sure you’ve got enough hose to go around your shop to avoid having to move things every time.”

A farm shop can also serve as a reminder of the season’s work.

A dirty shop likely means it was a good year, Tiefenthaler said.

“You hope the floors have grain on them because it reminds you of a good harvest, scattered tools means you fixed a breakdown in time to beat the rain and stacks of papers mean you fed your family.”

Many farmers are proud of their shops.

Jonathan Fraser, a chicken producer from Ottawa, Ont., Canada, is one of those producers.

The 25-year-old building is roughly 72-feet (21-metres) long and 45-feet (13-metres) wide.

“It started out with half of a concrete slab poured, some toolboxes and torches,” he told “We never really used it in the wintertime unless it was for storage.”

About five years ago, Fraser renovated the shop, adding insulation, more windows, another door, a propane heater and pouring the rest of the concrete.

He also added a parts room to store oil filters, lubricants and other wear and tear parts to help maintain neatness.

“We’ve got a spot for everything and we try to keep the shop open and clean,” he said. “It’s one of my favourite spots on the farm.”

In terms of must-have tools around the shop, there is no such thing as too many hand tools, Fraser said.

“We’ve got all kinds of wrenches and other hand tools around,” he said. “Chances are if there’s a wrench size you don’t have, you’ll need that size at some point, so it’s better to have them on hand if you can.”

Like the Tiefenthaler shop in Iowa, Fraser sees his shop as an extension of the home.

“My kids play in there, my cousin’s kids play in there and my sister’s kids play in there,” he said.

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