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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Heidi's Barn

I'm over my rant from yesterday. People are allowed to live in the country if they're not farmers. I would just appreciate it if they would't go so far as to call themselves farmers. But I'm over it pretty much, almost, mostly.

So what do I want when I go out looking at farms? I've been spending months figuring this out. When working on my correspondence course over the last few months, I've had to give a long look into my priorities.

If was sensible...if I had any logical thinking capacity whatsoever...if I was guided by practicality....if I worked from a business sense rather than giving in to what I simply like...if I had any smarts at all, I'd be looking for something like this:

(These photos are taken from Morton Buildings.)They're very nice! They have open sheds, and dutch doors.
Look at the interiors: so easy to work in!

There are two disadvantages to a modern, specialized horse barn.
1) Any real estate listing with the phrase "horse barn" automatically adds about another 200 grand onto the listing price. If you build one new, well...let's just say that's really stretching the budget.

2) It's new. It's modern. And you know what? I just...plain...don't...like....anything new and modern. With the exception of my Mac. But y'know, it is about five years old now so I guess in computer world it qualifies as an antique. Yeah, okay, I only like old stuff.

Call me a hopeless romantic. Fine. I can take the abuse.

Once we started actually reading the real estate ads instead of just looking at the pictures, I got a strange feeling in my gut. All these shiny straight barns caught my eye, sure. They looked great-- on other people's properties.

What I really want is this:I don't have any logical, rational, or practical thoughts. We all know this about me.

I imagined myself leaving my house- my slightly weather worn farmhouse- and walking across the yard in my coveralls and rubber boots. What would I be walking out to? I stopped in my imaginary tracks. That shiny straight barn just wasn't right. Practical, yes. Perfect for its purpose, absolutely. But all, completely, wrong.

It faded out and in its place a big, looming, century old bank barn materialized. I looked up at its high roof, at the tiny window in the peak where birds zoomed in and out. I swaggered up to the wooden door set into the stone foundation- stones so big that I couldn't imagine moving them without a tractor. There's nothing pre-fab about these old beauties. They were built one at a time, without power tools, without an architect's stamp of approval, and the fact that there are any left standing is proof of their quality.

The bank barn isn't perfect. Few of them are straight- they were probably leaning a little when they were new, 130 years ago. The ceilings in the bottom level are usually too low for horses. (This bothers my old man; he says their draft horses fit in that barn just fine when he was a little guy.) Old barns require repairs and maintenance that aren't ever necessary in a new barn.

Many have been altered to accomodate modern farming.
Jethro says they don't build em like that anymore-- they build em better.

He's right in many ways. He's the guy with the head for business. He'd never build a studio in a structure that wasn't worth it and tells me I shouldn't do business in an unsuitable building either.

But the bottom line is, no, they don't build em like this anymore. They never will again. We'd have to let the trees grow for 300 years before we could get beams like that again. These old barns are treasures to me, and while most people speed past them on the highway, ignoring them or worse, scorning them for being so old and weathered and, (gasp) rural, I admire them and mourn for the ones left to rot. They're part of our history.

I won't feel right without one of those in my yard.


Tomorrow I'll take you on a tour of the one I grew up in.

29 comments:

The Adult in Question said...

I like the modern ones. Sorry. I'm one of those people who is afraid to get hurt in one of those old barns. (I'm one of the Buffy's from yesterday's post...)Squeaky floor boards and what not. Don't trust em even if they have been around for a hundred years. But I will admit that they are cool looking and nothing is made to last anymore.

Life, or Something Like It said...

You make it sound like you grew up in a barn...You know, like actually IN the barn.
How old is yer dad's barn? It is a little creaky, and scary, and I think that is part of it's charm.
I know that you'll find what you're looking for, I just know it.

CindyDianne said...

I remember when I was in High School, my dad was working in Ohio. My mom and I went to visit and we went into Amish Country. I was totally amazed by the barns I saw scattered across the countryside. They are seriously amazing. We don't have them like that here. Not really.

cara winsor hehir said...

driving in mainland canada you see lots of barns in various stages of 'repair'. a saggy forgotten shack is sad and lovely. i feel that way for fishing rooms and stages.

dilling said...

there are old barns everywhere still standing or in states of collapsing...they are beautiful and nostalgic but I think that I, too, would prefer a modern one...less time cleaning, repairing... more time for horses.

her indoors said...

i prefer older style, an you can do it to your taste, hey we could have a bloggers week and all come an help, then i get my free horse lessen yes?

rural dad said...

I share your feelings on old barns, but our place didn't come with one, and I'm just not enough of a carpenter to 'remake' an old classic. I needed a simple, stout, cheap place to store my hay and winter cattle. Pole barn, it is then

When I make my millions, I'll hire someone who has skills and we'll salvage an old barn that a yuppie farmer plans on knocking down. That'll show 'em

Balloon Pirate said...

Twenty years ago, I worked on a PBS series hosted by a historical carpenter; that is, a guy who does all his work using only the tools and techniques that were available before the advent of the steam engine. During a break, I was talking to him about all these fabulous old structures around and I said something about how much better carpenters must have been back then then now.

"Oh, there were hacks back then, too," he told me. "The thing is, all of their buildings fell down a hundred years ago. As a rule, only the best-built structures ever last more than a century. Two hundred years from now," he went on, "theres going to be people painstakingly restoring tract houses to their 1970's splendour,"

Don't know why your post made me remember this, but it did.

Yeharr

Balloon Pirate said...

Twenty years ago, I worked on a PBS series hosted by a historical carpenter; that is, a guy who does all his work using only the tools and techniques that were available before the advent of the steam engine. During a break, I was talking to him about all these fabulous old structures around and I said something about how much better carpenters must have been back then then now.

"Oh, there were hacks back then, too," he told me. "The thing is, all of their buildings fell down a hundred years ago. As a rule, only the best-built structures ever last more than a century. Two hundred years from now," he went on, "theres going to be people painstakingly restoring tract houses to their 1970's splendour,"

Don't know why your post made me remember this, but it did.

Yeharr

Heidi the Hick said...

KC- That's it, everybody else gets the Virtual Tour tomorrow, but next summer I'm dragging you through the REAL TOUR! Mwa ha ha ha! I'll pull down all the cobwebs first and give you coveralls and gloves to stay clean, just because I love you so much!

Biddie...I didn't EXACTLY grow up in the barn but in my childhood I spent a LOT of time in there!

We don't know how old Dad's barn is, but he figures it was built in about 1870, so about 130ish. Yep, it's creaky and scary and charming!

Cindy-That's what I'm talking about! Most of the barns in the area I grew up in were built by Amish & Mennoite settlers who came up from Ohio and Pennsylvania. They amaze me too. Pretty magnificent structures.

Cara- Yes. Sad and lovely. So true and I'm so oddly attracted to that. Of course for what I want to do I need a building that's functional but there's something about a sagging forlorn barn that moves me...always cheerin for the underdog...

dilling- yep, that's it. I have to decide how much time to spend fixing the barn and how much time to spend horsing around. Oh, and uh, how much $$$ to spend on the old barn!!!

Rural Dad- Good call! When I make my millions I'll be wanting tips on finding an old barn to salvage!

Indoors- Anybody who swings a hammer gets a riding lesson!!!!

Pirate- that was totally relevant! I believe that, that the poorly built structures fell in on themselves. My grandfathers both talked about that. I'd like to see that documentary actually; sounds interesting!

BadMonkey said...

when I was a kid, we'd play in my grandmothers barn. We went crazy in the stored hay, until my uncle would come out to yell at us to quit.
It looked just like the first old pictured one on your post. It was over 100 years old, locust post fitted together, no nails. When she died, they sold it to a guy that wanted a more modern horse barn. When they razed it, a lot of the beams broke in the middle, not at the joints.
I never understood why the purchaser didn't want to keep it. We are in the minority.

DINK PINK said...

I WANNA COME LIVE WITH YOU...I`LL HELP YOU OUT WHENEVER YOU NEED IT!

Heidi the Hick said...

badmonkey...all I can say is...EXACTLY.

Mar- you know I can use all the help I can get! Are you okay with forking horse manure????

Notsocranky Yankee said...

One of my childhood friends had a really cool barn. I was intrigued by all the trap doors and wanted to play in there all the time. (We also road her goats, since we were both small enough not to crush them!) I drove by that barn when we were house-hunting a few years ago, but it was not for sale.

I think it was on "This Old House" where a barn was converted into a house and they did such a great job, it still looked like an ordinary barn from the distance, but was a wicked cool house on the inside. That's one way to literally live in a barn!

Heidi the Hick said...

Yankee- that barn from "This old House" was in the magazine when we were going through that unspeakable house renovation last year. It is amazing. I was so pleased that they kept so much of its original features! My only complaint is that our head contractor thought all project should cost over a million dollars! Gah!

Barns are fun, man. Way fun.

Simply Amethyst said...

Aren't the old barns beautiful! Love this post... I have such a soft spot for old buildings, especially barns! (you can tell by looking at my photo pages!! lol)
You know, there are people who convert old barns to houses...and some of them are fabulous... But I hate the ones that look like regular houses when you go inside... Whats the point if it doesn't look like a barn?? lol
Too many of these places have been torn down in the name of progress...

Timmy said...

I am all for older vs. newer anything. Yet another thing we have in common!

Happy American Thanksgiving to you!!

Redneck Nerdboy! said...

Jethro's right in some sense. They really do build them nice for business these days...

...but I love those old dusty red barns from yesteryear by golly. I just love 'em.

DINK PINK said...

OH HELL YEAH AS LONG AS I GET TO HAVE SOME FUN WHILE DOING IT, LIKE YOU SLING SOME SHIT @ ME AND I GET TO SLING SHIT @ YOU? OK?

Kila said...

I love old barns (and old farmhouses) too. I wish they could tell us their stories. I like to imagine what they might be.

Heidi the Hick said...

Amethyst, I knew you'd appreciate the old barns!

Timmaaaay! That and the cowboy hat thing, eh?

Redneck- I know, business sense....Yeah, he's right. But the old ones are special and I do love them...sometimes love wins out. I'm trying to talk him into the old barn thing. We'll see, won't we?

Mar, my mom taught me to never sling shit! I have a solution- after chores we split a beer or three. Or a chocolate bar. Either way.

Kila- I KNOW!! The stories! I'm lucky that my Dad grew up on their farm, as did his mother. He knows some of the history. It's very special to me.

N I F T Y said...

I love both styles, actually. The very old ones scare me enough (like the adult in question said) that I don't want to go in them, let alone put my 1000 pound horse in them. However, I think the new hospital-clean, concrete ones are awful. I hate the boring tin siding. My daddy is going to make me a barn (he doesn't know it yet, but he will) and it'll look like this...
http://www.hardwickpostandbeam.com/photos/horsebrn.jpg
or http://www.hardwickpostandbeam.com/photos/barnnew1sm.jpg

Heidi the Hick said...

oh my gosh, Nifty, those Hardwick barns are GORGEOUS!!!!

I hope your daddy loves barns as much as I do!

N I F T Y said...

Aren't they? No one color tin siding for this girl! My horses will be sleeping in style, man!

My dad isn't a barn fan, but he looooves working with wood and building things. He built a boat, so I figure a barn is no problem.

Coffeypot said...

Heidi, I put a comment on this item on your last item by mistake. Sorry!

dragonfly183 said...

oh i hate those new ones. sure they look pretty, but they aren't cheap are they. Building one would require a second mortgage for most and if fact some small earth friendly houses can be built for half of what they cost. And they may notrequire any repiars at the moment but because there not built like the onl ones were they are s ure enough going to need some major repairs down the road.

Give me an old one any day. There beautiful, there weathered, and there still standing. I don't have one on my property. The Last people to live on my place before I did got here by wagon. You can still see the remains of the deeply rutted road they took to get here on the back of my property. The most I have found of them are ancient glass bottles and heavily rusted old tools (which I have hanging on my family roo wall).

Smartypants said...

The old ones are gorgeous but the new ones are safer for my horse.

KSHIPPYCHIC said...

Ooooh I love the old barns, and the windmills too. It's one of my favorite photo subjects actually. The older and crookeder the better! I actually wondered a time back why it seemed like all barns were red. I guess it was due to cheap paint, and rust or something?? I can't remember the exact answer I got.
Anywho - It's Thanksgiving here, and I have come to wish you a happy Thursday there! LOL! You are a wonderful gal, and I am thankful I have "met" you in this crazy bloggy world!

Heidi the Hick said...

Dragonfly- your place sounds cool!

Smarty- you nailed it. I have to keep safety in mind always!!!! What to do, what to do...

Beck, I LOVE your barn photos! I have to look into the red paint thing too.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!