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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Did You Grow Up in a Barn or Something?

Did You Grow Up in a Barn or Something?

Well, as a matter of fact I did...several barns actually.

Great cathedrals of our rural heritage.

When you grow up as a farm kid, life is a series of barns, granaries, large equipment yards, fields and animals. You learn to drive a tractor at about eight while helping your family bale hay. You help to get the cows into the truck to go up to the market. You get to wake up and chase the cows that broke down the fence in your nightgown with the neighbors.

There isn't a lot of modesty in the country. No one has time for it.

The barns of my childhood were magical places. They were places of weird equipment, animals and haylofts just perfect for climbing. Although hot, once you made your way up to the very top of the barn, you knew you were in a place where only a select few had been before. You got to look out that window in the top of the barn that everyone looks at when they glance at the structure but few ever get to look out of. There were houses to be made with bale furniture, games of hid and seek and all sorts of adventures to be had.

All shapes and sizes. Magical places.

When I was growing up, there were several relatives that farmed, some that to this day I don't know how they were related to me, and tons of neighbors with barns. We even had some names for the barns. One barn that I remember fondly, we called the "Thirsty Barn". I believe my father dubbed it that due to the fact that he stored some of his hay in this barn after haying.

Our barn had no such name, nor was it very picturesque. A corrugated small steel building with two green corrugated plastic panels for lights, it was simply a working barn. That barn held lots of great memories. Running down to the barn in bare feet, dogs and cats in tow. Climbing the fence and giving the horses a treat of sugar or treat out of the box of horse treats.  It housed several generations of cows and my mother's horses which varied in number between one and five throughout the years. There were lots of kittens born on the farm and the crazy chickens. There was a donkey named Tequila and a pony named Coco-who incidently just walked into our yard one day. That's how I got my pony.

Barns hold great memories for so many of us that grew up working and playing in them. But with fewer and fewer people actually farming for a living, because it's so hard making a living at farming nowadays, so many of these great structures are falling to the ground. The families that own these barns can't afford to keep them up nor can they afford to demolish them. So, they die a long slow death. It's so incredibly sad because not only are we loosing these great structures, but the barns represent a way of life that is also going away as well as a collective history that is so quickly being lost. Our founding farmers were farmers. Many of the indigenous people were farmers. If you look back in your family history, more than likely only a few generations back, you'll discover someone listed in the census as "farmer". Farming, while tough, also made families self-sufficient and brought them together in the common goal of keeping the family alive. It brought children up with a moral background, a strong work ethic and a well developed love of the land. With each barn that  drops, we loose so much. Just a quick drive or walk around the block of my home there exists four barns, one in which the entire barn as fallen to the ground, two in which the roof's have caved in and only one really still standing. It's sad. How many generations worked in those barns? How many kids climbed in those lofts? How many families were fed due to the hard work of those farmers?

And who will remember them? Or nowadays... care?

There is a bumper sticker I've seen several times in our rural community... one that bears remembering....

Support your local farmer.



No Farmers. No Food.

America, the land of plenty.
Support local agriculture to keep it that way.

Keep that in mind when your buying your grapes from Chile and your meat from God knows where. We have to support our local agriculture. This is the background and the foundation of our country.

 Not to become preachy but...

If you aren't supporting your local farmers, who are you supporting? 

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