It started out a few years back. We put up this canvas tent for a "hay tent" knowing full well that these tents only last a couple of years. Add on that we use this tent everyday. When we had alpacas on our farm, I was in this tent twice a day (we fed them morning and night). Now with the sheep we only go in once a day, but still, daily use. Plus the days we bring in the hay. Also it's where our farm cats live. We use it a ton and knew average life span is only about 2 to 3 years.
Well, we put up this hay tent in March of 2010, almost 4 years ago (link to that blog post here). We never expected it to last this long. The last time we were stacking bales of hay in it, I said, I didn't think it would be much longer and the tent would cave in. We decided then that if that does happen, we'll move the hay back into our garage (where we have had it before, there is just a lot less room in there. However, with only 7 sheep, we aren't going through that much hay at this point).
We were out of town over Christmas and New Years this year. While we were away, our farm helper told us the hay tent collapsed. We were not surprised. Though I do have to say I almost moved the hay before we left and at that point I really wish I had!
We came home to this:
There was snow, then it sort of melted, then refroze, so layers of snow, ice and what not on top. It was very heavy!
Unfortunately, there were also several bales of hay (we counted 17), and all our pallets to stack the hay on still inside:
The force of the collapse actually bent the metal frame:
What was standing of the tent was held up by the stack of hay:
If we moved the hay, the whole thing would collapse, and the weight of all that snow and ice could trap anyone inside that tent.
So we had to be creative. First we got everything we could out of the tent, except that one stack of hay holding the whole thing up. The whole time thinking if it does start to cave in more, we need to get out fast. Then we ripped open the side to extract the bales of hay.
While it looks like it might have been fun to do, it actually was a lot of really hard work. We had to clear off the frozen snow/ice mess, then dig, then pull the metal braces off the hay stack, then get the hay. This all took us a couple of hours to do. And left behind a nasty mess :(
Now the hay is safely stored inside our garage.