Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Bank Barn


I think we all have special places. There are some places that just feel right, welcoming, even friendly. It might be a porch swing, a favorite chair on the deck, or a cozy spot under a window. Ask our cats about the last one. I have noticed that there are some places that have the opposite effect. Yikes! Get me out of here!
The places that are welcoming beckon you to grab a cup of coffee or tea and stay for a visit.

I have always been fond of our bank barn. A bank barn is a structure that is typically built into a hillside. This allows protection from the elements. There is room in the open, lower section for horses or other livestock to stand under for shelter. The second floor opens much like any other barn. Two of our barns are like giant friends for me. I just feel good when I'm there. Old barns have so much history. It is often quite interesting to see how they were built or to see what interesting things still reside there under some hay dust. There is a big push in our area, by various groups, to save the historic barns. I only wish the attitude carried over to the profession that built and needed these structures. Don't just save the barns, save the farmers! Farms and the process of growing food locally, even domestically, make our country strong. This is a topic for another post, now, back to the bank barn.

Our bank barn has two well placed trap doors where you can drop hay down to the animals below. You can go down ladders inside these doors to get to the lower floor. I have vivid memories of climbing down these ladders to give or horses their buckets of grain. Then, returning to the second floor by the ladder, we would cut twine from large round bales of hay. The hay is then tossed down the trap door opening. At that point you
either climb down to divide the hay evenly between the animals or rely on whoever you're working with to do that job. I love the job when the weather is cold. You make your way down the ladder and land in the pile of soft hay that you have thrown there. The horses busily munch hay, while the breath from their nostrils can be seen in the cold. Farm life feels good at times like that.

Our bank barn has been the location for many talks for C.S.Farmer and me. The second floor became a theater for my girls. They used the feed sacks material (these days synthetic) and made giant curtains. Many hours of practice for creative plays happened in the old barn. We have even had devotions there.

The barn feels a little less friendly lately because of our pigs. It's a good place for them to get shade or come in from the rain (when we're fortunate enough to have it).The theater has temporarily closed due to a funny smell that rises from the lower area of the barn. It is not the place for a married couple to have discussions or family to have devotions. I think of the old ad for an air freshener that said "This is a good place for a stick-up" (an air freshener with adhesive that was stuck where needed). Long after the source of that smell has gone back to the earth, the big bank barn will still stand there and welcome both people and animals.

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