One day a couple of years ago they tore it down. It had become obsolete and expensive to maintain, so it had to go. It came to mind today as I was driving along enjoying a beautiful spring day. It must still be in my heart. For some reason, I miss the old barn.
As a little girl helping my Dad with the chores I would spend time in the barn taking care of the animals. There were certain parts of the barn off-limits to me as they were dangerous. The bull pen for instance was a no go zone. My gentle and soft-spoken Dad made it crystal clear that I was never, ever,…. ever to go near the bull pen even if I thought Gus, the bull, was so nice with beautiful huge eyes and soft sweeping eyelashes. The hay mow was also off-limits unless I was with Dad as the were two holes in the floor to push hay and straw through to the animals below. Dad told me I’d crack my head right open if I fell through the holes. So that left the door area and the hay manger for me to play in while spending time with my Dad as he did the daily chores. I was given free rein in the separate henhouse and was assigned egg collecting duty there. Except for clear guidelines about staying clear of the boar pens in the out lying cement block pig barn I was allowed easy access to the baby pigs and sows and helped with their care. However, inside the big old barn I was a welcome but restricted onlooker in the protective custody of my Dad. I think it was the only time he laid down the law or said no to me. In the wet spring I sat by the pump and watched him clean out the stalls. During the hot, hazy summer I watched him stack the bales of straw and hay in the mow. Corn cobs and feed were stored away in the grainary during the crisp days of autumn. In the winter, as the snow flakes flew and the wind roared outside I watched him load up the manger with the animal feed chop he had stored in the mow.
Today I remember the big old Ontario style barn so well with its granite and brick foundation and towering barn board structure. I remember the half-door, the binder twine hanging on the nail, dusty straw in the manger,the stifiling hay mow and the swirling dust motes in the granary. I can see in my mind’s eye the cobwebs, buckets, hanging lightbulbs,water troughs, drinkers and the old hand pump. I can picture my brother’s treasured initials carved into the wooden door.
As a family we all gathered together at the barn the day before the barn was torn down. After everyone left except for my elderly widowed mother and myself, we went quietly into the barn together for one last time. I can only imagine what was going through my mom’s mind but I think I know. The carved initials were thoughtfully saved and turned into a coffee table by a clever niece. The old bricks and stone were salvaged by diligent nephews for another building project on the farm. What did I save? I think my mom knew.