In a bowl, beat shortening and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, molasses, corn syrup, ginger, cinnamon and cloves until well-mixed. Gradually add flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough can be formed into a ball. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and not sticky, adding more flour if needed. Cover and chill several hours or overnight.
Cut all barn patterns out of cardboard. Cut out windows and discard. Referring to Fig. 1, cut out two barn side walls (8-1/2 in. x 5-3/4 in.). If side windows are desired, cut out and discard five 1-in. x 1-1/2-in. windows measuring 1 in. from the bottom and 3/4 in. from each side, allowing 1/2 in. between windows. (Note: Roof is assembled from cardboard, not gingerbread.)
If farm animals are desired, cut out patterns provided or use your favorite animal cookie cutter.
Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease the foil. Lay a damp towel on the counter; place prepared pan on towel (to prevent slipping). Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out one-sixth of the dough directly onto the baking sheet into a rectangle about 1/4 in. thick. Position a barn pattern on the dough. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut out according to quantities noted on each pattern piece; remove pattern. Remove the dough scraps; cover, refrigerate and save to re-roll if needed.
Using a sharp knife, score outlines to mark the doors and windows where indicated on the pattern, being careful not to cut all the way through the dough. Score vertical lines in barn to look like siding if desired. Cut out windows where indicated.
Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until edges just begin to brown. Remove from oven; immediately replace barn patterns on cookies. Cut around edges to trim off excess cookie if necessary. Cool 10 minutes or until pieces begin to firm. Carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough and patterns.
For roof of silo, cut a 5-in. circle of gingerbread. Turn a standard-size muffin tin upside down; spray the bottom of one cup with cooking spray. Mold dough circle over and down the sides of the cup, pressing together any cracks and trimming off excess dough. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes on tin. Carefully remove to a wire rack; cool completely.
Use remaining dough for cutouts of farm animals and gingerbread people if desired. Bake cow or people cookies at 350° for 12-14 minutes and dog, chicken or pig cookies for 6-7 minutes.
To make icing: In a large bowl, cream butter and shortening. Add water and vanilla; beat until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar; mix well. Place a damp paper towel over bowl and cover tightly between uses.
To assemble frame of the barn: Test cookie pieces to make sure they fit together snugly. If necessary, file carefully with a serrated knife or emery board to make them fit.
Combine 4 teaspoons water and 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring. Carefully brush onto front, back and sides of barn with a small paintbrush. Let dry completely or overnight.
Insert #10 tip into pastry bag; fill two-thirds full with icing. Beginning with the back of the barn, squeeze a wide strip of icing onto the bottom edge of the back piece. Position on display base about 7 in. from one short edge. Prop it upright with spice bottles until icing is firm, about 3-4 hours.
To add barn sides and front: Squeeze icing on the lower edge of one side piece and side edge of the back piece. Align pieces at a right angle, making sure they are as tight as possible. Prop up with spice bottles. Repeat with the other side. For added stability, squeeze icing along the inside edge of all pieces and corners (see photo).
Squeeze icing onto the bottom and side edges of the front piece; position with the other assembled pieces. Prop up with more spice bottles; let dry completely.
To assemble barn roof: From heavy-duty cardboard, cut two 10-1/2-in. x 3-1/2-in. pieces A. Also cut two 10-1/2-in. x 2-1/2-in. pieces B. Tape one long edge of roof pieces A and B together with masking tape; repeat. Tape both A pieces together to form center roof peak.
Squeeze icing on the upper edges of the slant of the front and back edges of the barn. Carefully place roof on the slants so that the roof's peak is even with the points of the front and back. (There will be an overhang of about 3/4 in. on the front and back.)
For roof shingles, cut Triscuits in half. Using icing, attach Triscuits to cardboard roof in rows, beginning with bottom row; slightly overlap each row, alternating shingle seams (see photo). Repeat for other side. Cut narrow strips of crackers and attach to center of roof peak.
To make silo: Coat cardboard roll with icing; press one side of oyster crackers into icing to cover entire silo. Squeeze icing onto the top edge of the silo; carefully press gingerbread silo roof onto the silo. Squeeze icing onto lower edge of silo; stand it upright at the corner of the barn.
To decorate barn: Using a #5 tip, outline windows and doors with white icing. Tint a portion of the icing with green food coloring; use the leaf tip to decorate a butter ring cookie to make a wreath. Add decorating candies or ribbon if desired. Attach wreath to barn with icing.
Combine 1/2 teaspoon water with a small amount of green food coloring; brush onto shutters. Attach to sides of small window on barn front with icing. Pipe icicles on barn and silo roofs with icing. If desired, frost base around barn and silo to create snow.
To make barnyard fence: Overlap ends of pretzel sticks at desired angles; fasten together at intersections with dabs of icing. Let dry until icing is firm, about 1 hour. (If you're having difficulty making the icing holdand you're planning on using your barn for show onlyuse white glue to adhere pretzels together.)
Arrange fence around barn and attach with icing.
Add finishing touches: To make trees, use a serrated knife to carefully score and cut sugar ice cream cones to desired heights.
Tint a portion of icing with green food coloring; decorate trees using the leaf tip. Use spearmint candies for shrubs or decorate marshmallows with leaf tip. When frosting is dry, arrange as desired and attach to base with icing.
To frost markings on barnyard animals, thin a small portion of the icing with water; add black food coloring. Paint markings on animals as desired. Allow to dry. Position animals around the barn; secure with dabs of icing.
To make path, cut jelly beans in half lengthwise; arrange with cut side down and adhere to board with icing. Yield: 1 barn and about 2 dozen large cookies.