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. One 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 and thus the origin of the term threshold. 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? That was used for storage. A cupola on top (those small, louvered hats you see on barns)? There’s a good chance animals were housed there as the cupola allowed 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 now you know 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 begs a question. What’s a 30X40? And that requires digging a little deeper and a chance to see the world through a slightly different lens.