Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Most Charming Barn I Know...

This barn holds a special place in my heart.
I will cry when she finally falls.
I cried a little as I carefully crept around taking pictures of all the special nooks and crannies.
She is like a beautiful old woman with hands gnarled from years of hard work and struggles. 
Every wrinkle and line on her face has a story.
And yet when I look at her I don't see those things as flaws...
I picture her as she was when I thought she was the best place to be beginning over 30 years ago.



And I know she has stories much older than mine -
and much older even than those told by my mom and grandparents -
she was built around the turn of the century.
My mom remembers when she was still filled with milk cows and chickens.
She was already old and mangled when I met her (although to a much lesser degree).
I would have spent my whole childhood in this barn if someone had let me.
When I was barely old enough to walk I would curl up on this stairway and watch as my mom and aunts would curry and saddle up the horses.
The warmth from their bodies and breaths and the calm, quiet munching as they ate their grain.
The horses pretty much knew their spots and would head right to them and wait to be tied and receive their grain.  Eager to go out for a long ride.
Mine were always tied closest to the stairway so that they could nuzzle me and I could pet them while they got ready for our ride.
Eventually I was able to start helping to brush and then saddle the horses myself.
By the time I was about 8 my aunt (she was only a couple of years older) and I would be off to the barn the minute we finished breakfast and stay there or be out riding the countryside until the sun went down.
But we worked hard too.
Having horses meant baling hay, cleaning stalls, hauling water, fixing fences...
Hard work but there are days I'd love to give up my desk job to go back to those straightforward days where there were no office politics and deadlines were set by the weather and the sun.
As a teenager I spent many hours hiding out away from the world here when things got too hard and I needed to cry my eyes out in a horse's mane.
I even walked here 3 miles from my mom's house in a freezing drizzle one night when things got too ugly at home because she was the best place I could think of to take refuge from the storms in my life.
I remember one summer when we had a really good crop year and my aunt and I spent the summer stacking hay and straw all the way above the top rafters on both sides of the loft.
Family gatherings would almost always include a rough-and-tumble game of barn basketball which meant anything goes except wrecking the hay bales...
and try not to fall through the floor or impale yourself on the machinery...
As life got busier, I had less time to spend here and the horses slowly went off to new homes or spent out their days...
The barn continued to stand up to weather and time...
Housing mostly my grandpa's collection of tractors and farm equipment.
She withstood the EF1 tornado that began its descent just a mile west from here.
Shearing the tops of the trees and demolishing the camper, but sparing my grandparent's house and garage from the worst damage.
Twisting this old girl severely but not toppling her.
That was 4 years ago.
She's had a little help to save her from completely going.
We all cringe through those windy days...
knowing that sooner or later she will be claimed.

3 comments:

Stevie said...

I always wonder when I see an old barn collapsing in a field or being taken over by brush and kudzu: What was it like in its prime? Who relied on that barn for shelter? Who filled it with hay or cared for the animals? I wonder if there's even any one alive who remembers what it was used for. It's really kind of sad....Stevie@ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com

Heidi said...

April,
This post brought tears to my eyes as I read about this wonderful old family barn and how many special memories it has provided for you. What a special gift that is. Thank you for sharing your story and the images of this beautiful old gal. She is a magnificent barn. I hope she wethers many more storms.

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

It's too bad it can't be saved, what a wonderful old barn.