The most common size of a three-bay English barn, 30' by 40', adopted by the early American colonists in New England.  A three bay barn, or 30x40, consisted of four timber framed bents spaced equally along the 40' length of the structure. One bent was assigned to each of the gable end walls and two to the interior. This created three distinct zones for working and storing items and, by design, correlated with the size of a team of oxen. The center bay allowed the farmer to load the barn with hay by driving his wagon through the large center opening doors and provided a central work space. English barn 30 x 40One of the side bays typically held livestock, while the remaining bay stored the grain and a hay loft above for storage. Often these barns were called threshing barns and used exclusively for storing and threshing grain. When threshing grain by hand, the center bay doors were thrown open and a board placed across the bottom of the door opening at the sill. The lighter chaf would float out the large open doorway and the grain would fall to the floor and be held in by the board. The term threshold suddenly makes a lot more sense. I love that these barn structures so plainly illustrate the functions they once housed. Once you know what to look for you can't help but notice features which reveal deeper meaning in the world around you. No windows in the barn?  One can probably guess there weren't animals housed there. A cupola on top (those small, louvered hats you see on barns)? That usually indicates that animals were kept there. The cupola allowed the warm moist air from the animal's breath and…other gases to escape while keeping out the rain and snow. Banked into a hill? Those barns probably stored potatoes because the earth was the least expensive and best insulation a farmer could afford.  Tobacco barns with their louvered sides let breezes through the entire structure to dry the tobacco leaves.

So that’s the origin of the term 30x40, but I would argue that the more important subtext to the name of this site is the idea that the name itself forces you to question it.  It requires digging a little deeper.  It requires thinking and seeing the world through a slightly different lens...

...and big barn doors are really cool.