Friday, October 16

The Old Red Barn...

Nothing catches my eye when I am traveling along the road of life as much as the old barns along the way (I want to take a picture of every single one, ask my family!) and the sad thing is that there aren't too many left anymore.   To me, those old barns represent where we came from, our heritage, and pay tribute to those who raised them with the help of neighbors and friends.  They remind me of our grandparents, and great-grandparents who homesteaded and worked unceasing to tame the land, produce crops, and provide for their families.  How I admire them!

This is a photo of my Mom, and our dog, Benji (he was a great dog!), in her garden with our barn and windmill in the background taken in 1975 or so.

Our old red barn has so many memories for me.  It was built in 1921, the year before my Dad was born, by my grandfather.  My grandpa and then my Dad raised cattle for many years but I was fairly young (2nd grade) when he decided to get out of the cattle business and I remember the day a big semi came to load them up.  The barn sat empty for several years then until my oldest brother decided to raise hogs.  Fascinating creatures those pigs and there's nothing like the smell of a hog farm on hot summer days(!).  My sisters and I didn't bother the pigs too much.  The boar had his own larger pen on one end of the barn and he scared the bajeebas out of us, he was huge and ugly and very ill-mannered.  But every spring, if we promised to be quiet and not in the way, my brother would let us watch the birthing of new piglets.  The labor always looked so long and painful for the sow but those slippery piglets seemed to just pop right out, one after the other.  We would keep checking then to see if the "runts" survived, quite a few didn't. :,(  We came up with names for all of them.  They were so sweet and fun to watch when they were little but always grew up to be loud, obnoxious, dirty and smelly.   I also helped my brother with castrating one time and, oh my, what an eye-opening experience for a teenage girl!

In the upstairs, the mow, of the barn were several hooks on the walls with old horse tack and one half of the upstairs was stacked high with hay bales.  We would take a running jump off the edge of the bales and swing out on the ropes that hung from the track at the top of the barn. What fun that was!  And what a bummer when Dad said we had to stop swinging because it was too old and dangerous.  It's amazing there were no bones broken in that barn, just lots of scrapes and bruises from the rope and the scratchy hay.

Those hay bales were home to many a batch of kittens over the years.  As soon as we saw the momma was skinny we would carry her to the barn, up to the hay bales, and wait patiently until she showed us where they were.  Oh the hours spent in the barn with those kittens!  When they were old enough they would follow the momma down the stairs and across the yard to the house.

The barn held some other icky creatures too, like huge spiders, snakes, mice and yes, rats.  They seemed to hang out under the stairs and we would always try to talk the other into going first and learned to go up and down very quickly lest we be attacked by the rats.

My brother eventually got rid of his hogs, got married, and moved away to Wisconsin so the barn sat empty once again, except for storing vehicles and other stuff.  Soon, I moved away from home, too, but I always took a walk through the barn whenever I got back to visit.  I can still smell the musty hay and barn wood smells. 

Sadly, in 2002, the barn had to come down.  The photo above was taken that day.  Dad used some of the lumber to build a new shop.  All that remains is the cement foundation and the windows that we each have as a keepsake. 

To the right is the cupola that sat on top of the barn- I'm still trying to think of a use for it!  Maybe a centerpiece for a flower garden?  I am not sure what happened to the weathervane.

So maybe the next time you see an old barn that's still standing, take a picture for me :) and a minute to say thanks to honor the hard-working farmers who give us this day our daily bread!  Amen



Laurie said...

To my sibling who read this: I am sure you have different memories of the barn than I do and I would love to hear yours, too!

Rachelle said...

What a lovely post and beautiful pics. However...rats and snakes? I'm not goin' in!

Connie said...

My first 'barn memories' are of watching Grandpa Z. milk the cows, as I sat on saddle which was placed on the low part of the wall between barn stalls. He would then put the milk in the separator, to separate the cream from the milk. That was before your time, sis. :-)
Loved reading your memories, and could identify with many of them, especially the barn swing and the smells. I also recall the many mud nests of the barn swallows that made their home there.
That cupola would make a great centerpiece for a garden, but I think I would mount it on something to raise it up a bit higher.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog....I have similar memories growing up on the farm in the Red River Valley. The hours I spent in the barn with the kittens are my favorite. We also raised pigs and I was terrified of the boar.
Kathy Q