While rattling down a dusty country road or rolling across an asphalt highway, there are only a few things that really catch my eye: stray dogs, Tex-Mex restaurants and beautiful old barns. There is something about faded whitewash and classic red paint, weathervanes, sliding barn doors and unique designs that are incredibly picturesque and nostalgic.
Anytime I see one that is particularly striking, I stop on the side of the road and photograph it because I know all too well it might not be standing in a year’s time. One perfect example is a barn I used to pass about every other week on my way to a neighboring town. It was a gambrel-style barn with two windows just below the roof line, making it look like it had a face. It always looked to be in fantastic condition and it was always a welcome sight on my journeys. I photographed it right before a hail storm—which dented my car—several years ago and that photo has hung in my home ever since.
A month ago I was driving down that highway and noticed a pile of smoldering wood before I realized that pile of coals was the remnants of my barn. I don’t know if it makes me sound passionate or just plain silly, but a little tear rolled down my cheek as I looked in my rear view mirror at the charred structure and it became painfully apparent we had lost one more aesthetically pleasing piece of agriculture architecture.
These old barns have seen so much in their long lives. Imagine the bountiful harvests they’ve been here for, the livestock that have been birthed and raised in them, the equipment stored in them, the storms they’ve weather and the hardships endured while they stayed standing, just like the farm families who owned them.
When new homesteads were begun way back when, the first thing they did was build a barn to protect the livestock and the hay. The family would live in the barn with the livestock while they built a home. In a way, the old barns of the worlds were the beginnings of what we have now and we should be doing everything in our power to save them if we can. Not only have they added beauty and charm to rural America, they are also a history lesson and a reminder of where we came from as agriculturists. It’s a crying shame every time one falls down or is destroyed. Now let’s chant it together, save the barns!
Lacey Newlin can be reached at 580-748-1892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.