Farewell, Old Barn

| 11/20/2009 2:23:19 PM

Tags: barns, memories,

An old majestic barn

A photo of Nancy KraayenhofA friend of mine drove ninety minutes (one way!) after work on Tuesday evening to take her children among the cobwebs, through the stalls with the remnants of straw from livestock past and up the rickety old stairs into the hayloft of the aged barn where she played as a child. The kids are almost 5 and almost 3 years old and this mother wanted to give them the opportunity to get a good look, if in reality only a glimpse, at a building that holds many of her childhood memories. While there she will take pictures and turn back the clock to an hour long ago when the dust hung like fog in the sunlight streaming through haymow doors. Though these kids have been to this farm many times before, time is suddenly of the essence as the barn is in ill repair and scheduled to be torn down on Wednesday.

My own mother speaks fond memories of their barn on the family farm in Nebraska. She has no recollection of ever attending a circus as a child but realizes she must have because her two older sisters and she had rigged up their very own trapeze in the hayloft. She speaks of how they fearlessly shimmied along a two by four ledge to reach the suspended apparatus made out of what I can only imagine would be rope and a piece of pipe. Mom, who is now in her late 60s, even declares she got so that she could swing by her ankles and I can actually picture her doing so.

That very same barn where my mother played is where I also had occasion to play as a child. There were twelve of us cousins all born in four years’ time. My brother, my sister and I were from the city in South Dakota and the rest all lived within ten miles of that very barn in central Nebraska. It was a huge fascination for me to experience the sights and sounds of the farm though it was pretty much old hat for the locals.

In the bottom of that very barn was this old wooden sifting type machine. If you rocked the handle back and forth fast enough shoveling in some old straw and the dirt that accompanied it from the floor it made a terrible racket and about the best dust cloud that a nine year old could ever imagine producing. I don’t know what it was for, though I’m sure my husband, the antique farm machinery buff, would not only know its purpose but could tell you how it worked, who made them and what years they were made. I must make a point to remember to ask him and report back to you.

The cable was missing from the haymow pulley outside the upper doors that was used to allow bales of hay to be brought down gently from the loft. Someone probably took it off for safety’s sake. I’ll bet one of the adults around at that time did the math that twelve kids plus 30 foot of rope plus a 20-foot drop equaled trouble.

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