Barns evoke a number of feelings in me, some very personal. I am reminded of cold winter days milking our family cow in the barn, leaning my head into the cow’s flank to absorb her heat, while cats and kittens are scrambling around the pail waiting for a squirt of milk. And the not so long ago memories of our barn on the Maryland farm – escaping the cold winter wind and relishing the warmth and the smells of the horses in freshly cleaned stalls. (Note the focus on winter, and not the hot, sticky days of summer, getting slapped in the face by the cows tail as she shoos away the flies. I should also mention here that in Maryland Patience did ALL of the mucking…her choice. I got to enjoy the fruits of her labor.)
I am especially fond of the rambling dairy barns, where one or more additions have been tacked on to the main structure, often with only function in mind, resulting in a mish mash of architecture and texture…much to my great delight. Looking at these rural icons, many of them now abandoned or a little more than storage facilities, I wonder about their stories, and the hopes and aspirations of the families they served when the barns were new I imagine the livestock at home in their stalls, cats milling about, and children running around, playing in the hay loft; the barn, elegant or inelegant, serving a central role in the working day.
It is sad to see so many of these wonderful structures, from the simplest to the most elegant, fall into disrepair and treated with such little respect and appreciation for all that they have provided. Even the unpretentious storage barns and tobacco barns with their uncomplicated lines stand as reminders of a life that is quickly becoming only a memory.