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.