Quilting, Farming, Variety

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Old Barn

A lot of bloggers are featuring pictures of barns in a weekly post called Barn Charm.  Most of them are really attractive barns; we don't have that many nice barns in our area.  Old barns are in disarray and new barns are built from steel trusses and metal roofs with no real "charm" about them, just suitable, working barns for storing hay.

From my childhood, I remember a barn, not pretty at all, but covered with graying wooden boards and sheet iron roofing.  It was obviously old even then, but the three sides surrounded stalls, or rooms, for various purposes.  There was a stall for the milk cow and one for her calf; Mama would milk the cow until she had enough for the family, then turn the calf in to empty the cow's udder.  On hot days the cows might come to the barn to loaf in the open empty stalls, and occasionally we would find eggs in a nest, hidden by a bantam hen.  One stall came to have extreme importance after it had held the cow with rabies.  (See posts for April 21, 22, 23, 2011)

But the heart of the old barn, surrounded by those stalls, was at its center: a room with a wooden floor and a loft.  In late summer, the loft was filled with square bales of hay.  With the metal roof overhead catching the sun's heat, the work was extremely hot.  Access to the loft was by a ladder built on the side of the room; hand over hand, step by step upward, then squeeze through the square opening into the space.  Springtime climbs were rewarded with the discovery of new kittens snuggled down into a straw bed.

The lower floor was divided into two rooms; one was where the new crop of potatoes were poured out to keep until fall and the cane seed heads were spread out to keep for feed for the laying hens.  The second room was called "the crib" and I suppose, in its early days, was filled with the dry corn harvested in the fall.

The usefulness of the stalls and the crib was all well and good for a little girl, but the best part about the old barn was our playhouse inside the floored room.  Mama didn't care for us to play there, so we took the dolls, the simple wooden cabinet, table, chairs, and doll beds Daddy had made for us, and set up a wonderful, imagined house.  Discarded glass canning lids made wonderful plates and some other little tin objects served as pans for mud pies and cakes, decorated with yellow bitter weed blossoms.

We moved away from the farm and the old barn when I was seventeen years old.  Age and no up-keep soon took its toll on the barn, and when I visited the farmland several years later, it had collapsed.  At that time, inside those walls, the heart was still standing; on another visit, the outside of the barn was gone, and the heart had collapsed too.  But as I looked closely, there was the little green cabinet Daddy had made.  I wanted that cabinet, but my better judgment told me I couldn't move anything to get it out. 

All the remains of the old barn have been burned, grass grows over the spot, and cows graze, but the memories remain.



  1. Oh Charlotte, for some reason this brings tears to my eyes. I love those old falling-down barns. I imagine what they were like when they were new and filled with life.
    You have made that image come to life for me with your beautiful story.

  2. This is a Masterpiece, you know how I love old barns..This post has brought tears to my eyes..I hate it that you couln't get your litle cabinet out but that old barn will forever live in your heart..They have so many stories to tell..A priceless post..

  3. This brings back so many memories of the old barns that belonged to my parents and grandparents...a great story!

  4. I loved that story, it's amazing how the memories stay with us long after the physical items are long gone. This reminds me of playing "house" with my brother out in the woods for hours, pretending to build a camp fire and decorating rooms.

  5. I agree with the other comments, Charlotte~ this was a wonderful story about the barn of your childhood.
    I remember playing in my grandfather's barn and I can still recall the smells and the sight of dust coming throught the windows. I think it's sad to see an old barn falling down, because I can only imagine how many memories are in it, like baby animals being born, children playing... *sigh*

  6. Charlotte, as I travel my country roads there are so many old barns
    and some like your image have fallen to the ground.
    Makes me sad...

  7. This story made me cry; maybe because it is so hard to find a barn like you describe nowadays. My cousins and I spent many happy hours playing in the barn. I can still smell that sweet hay. :)

  8. Oh, Charlotte - how wonderful it could have been for you to have retrieved that little cabinet! You should join Barn Charm - I love the old dilapidated barns as much as the well-kept ones. The old ones in disrepair have stories to tell too.

  9. I love old barns like that, there are quite a few of them here. I wish you could have gotten that little cabinet.

  10. Love your heart touching story about this. It is sad to see the places that we love, go down. Thank goodness for our memories.