Growing up on the farm, my favorite place has always been the barn. I spent many, many hours as a child playing there.
There were bales of hay to climb and hide in. There were barn cats to pet. There were stalls to turn into play houses, jails, and caves.
There was the tack room full of harnesses, bridles, ropes, and our saddles. There were the tools and farm equipment — the tractor, bush hog, combine and plows. And best of all, the smell of grains and hay.
There were two main barns in my life. The cinder block milk barn, and the big wooden barn my father and grandfather built in the 1950s.
Daddy took his earnings from WWII, and the two of them constructed a huge three room barn on the old home place where we are now.
The milk barn sold with the place my father bought across the road when he married my mother and has since been turned into a very nice guest house. But the other barn is still ours, and Greg has carefully repaired and maintained it over the years. In my dinning room hangs a picture Greg painted of the barn in its original state when we had dairy cows.
The barn has become a bit of a museum now since farming is more of a hobby for us than the extra income it was for Daddy. Greg used pallets to replace some of the walls and they have provided shelves to display many of the bits and pieces of the old way of life, and of course all the hub caps Daddy collected.
Greg hung many old tools on the walls as well. It is a vast source of interest to the grandchildren. We took out the tack room, not having horses to ride anymore, but the wall supports are still there, and so is Daddy’s lantern he always used.
In the main part of the barn is plenty of room for hay, as well as all of our other odd collections of farm life. Greg is still working on the back wall and when that is done the barn will once more be snug and warm.
The lower shed has also been changed. Once it was open with a long trough with head stanchions for all of the milk cows. Now we have two lambing stalls and a hall opening to the main barn.
In the back, though, you can still see the old trough. I spent many house in there watching Daddy milk and playing with the barn cats.
Daddy loved his barns too. He spent a good part of every day there, either working on something, feeding the stock, or just sitting and smoking his pipe.
He found an old metal folding chair somewhere, and that became a fixture in the barn for him to sit and while away the hours, or listen to the rain on the tin roof.
I use the chair for much the same thing now. And every time I sit there and listen to the rain, I think of Daddy and it seems I can almost smell pipe smoke.
And the tradition goes on. My granddaughter discovered the barn as soon as she was big enough to walk, and that is where you can find her most days, playing the same sort of games I did, and spending time with the lambs.
Fore that is what farm life is mostly about. Passing down cherished memories and carrying on traditions. And what a wonderful place to grow up.
Photos property of Leah McAllister.