Friday, July 10, 2009

Old Barn Comin' Down!

This is the old barn before it got really bad. Our house was built 1898, and we were told that the barns were older than the house. This was my favorite barn on the place. Many photos were taken of our family with this beautiful old perfectly-worn barn wood as the background. I've posed many seniors in front of or behind it and captured their smiling faces.

During some of our high wind storms, we would see boards (full of nails) fly across the yard...the shakes (also full of nails) from the roof would fly off and little by little, the barn was worn down and torn up and was no longer smart to keep around. (The little red milk shed was kept and is still doing okay, though its days are numbered.

It's always a sad decision when owners of old farmhouses have to take down an old hand-built barn. It's heart-wrenching, really. You think of the importance this building once held for the farmer, how many hours they and their family members took to gather all the necessary wood, the tree trunks pulled to the site and leveled with huge old rocks gathered from the fields, the hand-hewn beams that must have had hundreds of hours into them, all the pegs that they carved by hand, and the hundreds of cedar shakes that were made to nail onto the roof: a labor of love built out of necessity.

And also your mind wanders to all animals that were sheltered and warmed in fragrant straw on the floor of their stalls over the years, especially the winter when the cold wind beat incessantly through the cracks for months at a time. The crib built into the barn that once held the ears of corn, all the kittens born underneath that floor, how much you wish you could save it.

Your mind remembers the nights when fireflies blinked and the kids played hide-n-seek after dark with their cousins yelling "READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!" and their feet running 'round it to get back to the "safe" point and the laughter that would erupt from behind it when someone was "discovered" there on a dark summer night.

You remember all the little funerals you held with your children behind that barn for the kitties or the dogs that you loved so much and lost, that were carefully buried in the shadows of that trusted old barn, never dreaming someday that it would have to come down and take away the shadowy shelter you felt the barn would always provide for the graves.

But once it becomes a danger to your family and to your property, you finally make a hard decision: it has to come down. We took this old barn down in March of 2008. Thought must be given to how to dismantle it, where to put all the junk from inside it, and finally how to get that baby on the ground so that what you don't keep of it can be burned. You choose a month that is cold, but not too snowy (March) so that the ground is hard enough to drive the pickup on and pull it down but not so soft that your work will leave huge ruts in the ground.
So, slowly over weeks, siding is pulled off with a crow bar (by your hard-working husband and sons!) and your yard looks hideous with years worth of your castoffs (and some of the farmer's too!) sitting around, as well as piles of lumber to sort into piles to keep and to burn.

Exposing all its nakedness, the barn seems to look embarrassed.

There are areas where scrap sheet metal was patched in to make repairs...

The gray skies of late winter match the mood of the barn as it sees its last days.

Odds and ends still left in the attic of the barn...and of course I had to keep the old, old barbed wire and the crates it was wrapped around!

The west end is exposed...and now we can truly see how bad the condition of the old roof was.

Patches made with pieces of wood to hold it together...this barn was a home to many wild animals, you can be sure!

looking down from up above...pieces and parts of lives that have come and gone. See the huge log rafters?

It's finally time to hook up cables and chains, put the pickup in 4WD and pull the main beams down.

Yup....he let me do it!

And a good yank with the horsepower in the Chevy truck and ....

She's down....and you swallow that lump in your throat and get back to work.

The new barn is nicer, safer, drier....but somehow, it won't be the same and will never look like it "belongs"....

We put a garden into the spot that once held the old barn (shown here). That garden does VERY well, and while we're working in that garden, we can remember our old barn. And each spring when the thaw comes, the ground pushes up more old pieces of rock, hardware, cans, bottles and "junk" that were under that old barn. The barn still talks to us as history is pushed up from the ground!


Sue said...

Hi Joni
What a hard decision to have made. And on my post today is the pics of our restoration-we were lucky ours had a decent roof-keeping the elements out is the only thing that saves these old barns. You had some very nice pictures of yours. I enjoyed them.

KathyB. said...

I very much enjoyed this tribute to your old barn. An old barn has so many stories in its' history, and your speculations and remembrances made your barn special to me.

Twisted Fencepost said...

What a sad, but beautiful post!
You made me yearn to rebuild that barn with the old wood and logs.
I know it has to be done, but tearing it down is so sad.

Carol Murdock said...

I agree that tearing down an old barn is sad but I bet that garden there thrives!

Flat Creek Farm said...

Oh, what a bittersweet story. What a wonderful garden plot though! Just found your blog today & love it! -Tammy

Feedsack Fantasy said...

Tissue time! I know it was very difficult I am sure to remove this ilttle darling structure ... I, too, hate to see them give way to time, but safety comes first in all things.

The garden will blossom in joy & beauty in that spot.

TTFN ~Marydon

Tara said...

This is very touching. So many memories in those old places.


jen said...

Loved this post!!


Donna said...

What a beautiful story! And the memories that old barn had and created for the generations.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It's hard to lose something so dear! But time changes everything.

More than Survival said...

This post almost made me cry! Tearing down old barns and houses just tears me up.... We live in a 1911 house with only *new* barns.. all the old ones were gone long before we came. I wish I could have seen them. I know that it is such a HARD decision to tear them down... Time, weather and use just wear them out... kind of like our own bodies!

bobbi said...

I love your blog! Especially enjoyed this post about your beloved old barn. I grew up on a farm and lived there until I got married (33 years ago!). My mom still lives on the farmstead, and I love going back there. When I can't, I just read your blog and takes me back to all those wonderful farm memories:) Thanks, thanks, thanks! bobbi

Kathleen Grace said...

It always breaks my heart to see old barns that just can't be saved. They just don't make them like that any more! I also recognize that the upkeep on such a building must be very expensive. I remember my grandfather hiring some of the boys at church to paint his barns and it was a job that lasted all summer and must have cost him a lot of money!