Grain bin rental welcomes visitors to experience the farm life in Wykoff

Aug. 27—WYKOFF, Minn. — In between the cows grazing and gathering with her family, Maureen Bourner gazed at Paul Bourner's new love for the farm. It was meant for their city and country worlds to come together, she noted.

The family dairy farm in Wykoff showed her "how a dairy farmer committed their whole life. You didn't go on many vacations. You're married to the farm," Maureen said. The cows need milking a few times a day, even in winter's 20 below zero weather. And the 30 to 40 cows would warm the barn, just one piece Paul was enthralled by in the process.

"After I went to college and moved to the city, you just crave that peace that you get on the farm," Maureen said. "It's such a different lifestyle and that's what I wanted our kids to experience, so if we would go visit my mom and dad, they loved it there. And they still love it there."

They fell in love with the property's grain bin later when it became their family gathering spot. The Bourners purchased Maureen's parents farm after her mother died. While the house sat vacant for about five years, Paul and Maureen knew the property needed tender, loving care like their favorite HGTV shows.

When the "Texas Flip N Move" show highlighted a grain bin conversion into a home, the couple envisioned their new home fitting in with the community's farming roots. They headed into demo season with their extended family and an architect set to combine two grain bins into a three-story home. The home started as a place for Paul and Maureen to stay when visiting from St. Louis and opened as an Airbnb in May 2023.

The "brand new, straight from the factory grain bin" required creative design choices, like how the 28-foot diameter would affect adding windows and doors. It was like placing a square peg in a round hole, literally, Paul said of his brother-in-law's Michael O'Byrne's work on the project. Paul said "there was lots of sweat, blood and tears in putting this thing together. It was a labor of love."

Although the Bourners are not in the agriculture business now, Maureen said "we wanted it to stay looking industrial. We wanted it to look like a grain bin basically." The floors are connected with a grain bin's traditional outside stairs turned inside.

Still, Maureen wondered if people would come. She determined one aspect would draw visitors: a pickleball court. The sport is another activity people can add to their outdoor list of biking, canoeing and hiking in the bluff country. The court is only for the Airbnb guests.

As a grain bin rental, dubbed The Bin There, Done That, the Bourners have hosted about 50 people over 18 stays. The rental property is open from May to October. Wykoff also shares the historic

Jail Haus rental property

owned by the city.

"This is our first year and it's way beyond our expectations of how often it is rented," Maureen said. "In August, I think we had three days that it was open. It has been booked solid."

Local family members help with the care of the property, such as coffee bean runs, cleaning, mowing and offering a calf-feeding experience. People from Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin enjoy "the serenity that comes from being in the farm environment," such as the "cows chattering," Paul said.

With the Airbnb's popularity, the Bourners visit and work on more projects about every other month. The architecture, including the galvanized steel outside and inside, brings people to the bin — whether they're visitors, farmers or town friends, Maureen said.

"Every time we're there people stop and ask to come in and see it. Every time. We'll be out in the yard and they'll come knock on the door, 'Can we please see the inside of this?'" Maureen said.

The Bourners also enjoy seeing people support small businesses in Fillmore County. They said it's a "win" to have guests "spending money locally."

"We're seeing a ripple effect of their tourism dollars being spread locally around the general area," Paul said. "However that helps with commerce and tourism industry in the Fillmore County area that's all good news."

While her childhood home has faded and gone, Maureen loves her memories of childhood, raising their family and sharing the soothing environment with their grandsons.

"We loved the way it turned out. The views are beautiful," Maureen said. "I think most people come just to experience the quietness, the just being in a farm setting, seeing the cows, seeing the baby calves, listening to them."