From SPRING HOME magazine: The story behind that big beautiful barn on Highway 29

New barns rarely rise up on the prairie these days. This one is hard to miss.

In the daylight hours the barn stands out and offers plenty of space for the critters. Michael Johnson/Spring Home

Editor's note: This story is from Spring Home magazine, published April 14 by the Wadena Pioneer Journal, Perham Focus and Detroit Lakes Tribune newspapers, which are all owned by Forum Communications Company. Read the magazine in full online HERE , or pick up a copy on area newsstands today.


When Tri-County Health Care bought the land on Highway 10 where Kelly and Julie Taggart raised their family, the couple had a unique opportunity to pick up and start over on a new piece of land on the outskirts of Wadena.


The spot they landed on turned out to be just across town, outside city limits and the Wadena County boundary. It was a blank canvass of grassy fields and pines, at a location few people have been able to find.

A look across the field takes in a view of the barn and home on the west edge of town. Submitted photo

After picking up and moving, they started construction on the centerpiece of the homestead -- a steel barn. After all, the alpacas had to have a place to call their own.

Many locals know the Taggart farm as “the llama farm,” but the animals are, in fact, alpacas. If you ask them how they feel about the move, they seem to be happily at home, enjoying a lean-to portion of the new barn. On the other side of the barn is a spot for the emu, rabbits and chickens.

A sliding hay loft door and roll up lower doors offer big openings into this barn completed August 2020. Michael Johnson/Spring Home

The large barn stands out with its red and green steel panels and can be spotted by those passing by on Highway 29. The impressive structure is nearly 60-feet square and was built by Wayne Ament Construction. Ament said he built a similar barn some 20 years ago on his own property, and has always liked this style. He built a smaller version in New York Mills that he showed to the Taggarts. They went with a design that would allow for multi-purpose uses since building a structure just for alpacas likely wouldn’t be of much use to most people.


“He had vision,” Ament said of Kelly Taggart. “He was trying to look ahead so he could have a good resale value in the future.”

The Taggarts didn’t only choose a local contractor in Ament, they went with a local concrete contractor, too, M L Schmitt; and construction materials came from Northwest Building Center in Wadena. A key part of the building, according to Kelly Taggart, are the doors, created and installed by Warner Garage Doors of New York Mills. Taggart says he was especially impressed with how the doors turned out. While they look like huge swinging barn doors, they are similar to a typical garage door, which rolls up with an electric motor.

The Taggarts and those passing by also appreciate the lighting on this building. The large cupolas on top of the barn were built with windows and lights inside them, allowing the building to really shine in the dark.

When the sun goes down the lights really shine at the Taggart barn west of Wadena. Submitted photo

“I’m just happy the way it turned out,” Taggart says of the project, which was completed last August.

Inside, the barn has all the framework exposed, so a person can really see how it all came together. A second floor at this time holds hay bales. Windows around the building are set above the lean-to portions and allow a great amount of light in.

The Taggarts and their children, Logan, Emma, Camille and James, appreciate the new building and the 40 acres it sits on. The opportunity to create this new homestead was not one they had been planning, but even so, plans came together to make a space that’s unique and all their own.


Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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