I do love barns and having grown up on a farm out in Ohio, I certainly do appreciate what a barn meant to my father as he milked the cows in his barn and stored all of the hay, wheat, oats, and bedding in that barn. A full barn at the end of the growing season meant that there would be a milk check each month which would sustain the family throughout the winter until spring time when the cows were turned out to pasture and some new crops were planted in the fields.
Many of the old barns here in the Finger Lakes have been abandoned over the years. These old barns were built when each farmer had a few cows and the hay was brought into the barn in loose form on a horse drawn wagon. The first tractors came into general use in the thirties, and from there came the balers which compacted the hay and straw into bales that weighted perhaps 85 lbs. each. Our old barn floor creaked and cracked when the tractor pulled onto the barn floor with a fully loaded wagon of hay bales. It became necessary to shore up the joists and put down some new plank flooring which could withstand the heavier loads.
Today, dairy farming has become so specialized that only the cows are protected from the elements. The hay is stored outside either in plastic wrapped bales or covered with a plastic tarp. One wouldn’t even think about driving a modern tractor onto the barn floor as most are much too heavy and are either left outside in the weather or in a shed. The old barns which were built with hand hued wooden beams are now obsolete and that is why you see them abandoned.
I have a friend who is old and very ill. I have to ask myself, “Are old people really like old barns?” Do we become obsolete just like an old barn and then bide our time waiting for someone to come along and haul us away? It’s a question that we all must eventually face.