Friday, June 19, 2015
Forgotten Barns: Part 5
With my daughter attending "college", I have plenty of time to kill every morning for two weeks. I have been spending part of that time feeding my addiction of driving around and photographing decaying barns. They call to me, partly because I wish I had a large barn out back to do with as I wish and two, because I'm probably the only one who is noticing them as they slowly decay back into the earth from which they came. The one above is a particular favorite of mine due to its shear size and how nice it must have looked back when it was being used.
This one has the classic overhang and steep roof suggesting it was used as a hay barn back in the day. Lots of these barns that are still water tight are used as hay storage even in modern times though they have gone from storing loose hay to square hay bales. I spent many a summer of my youth putting up 50,000+ square bales of hay in various barns on various farms my parents owned or farmed.
Here is another barn with a similar overhang. It has more openings in the bottom half suggesting it was probably used for animal protection as well as hay storage. In the background, you can see the modern "barns" that now populate the farming landscape. They are ubiquitous in shape and color and frankly uninspiring.
Here is a barn that did not survive. Most if not all of these barns have wells nearby that were serviced with windmills that did the pumping. Many wells were filled in and capped in the 80's as part of a push to eliminate direct water source contamination but probably many more still lie out there in the weeds, still accepting runoff. The windmills have been replace by rural waterfication which happened in the late 80's. Now thousands of people in the rural part of the state get their water from a few man made lakes and hundreds of thousands of miles of piping. The windmills have largely disappeared having been sold for scrap metal pricing. A few had their tops lopped off and now serve as yard ornaments. Growing up, it always felt reassuring to lie in bed at night and hear that windmill squeaking off in the distance as it worked away without complaint. I had completely forgotten about that sound until the picture above sparked that memory.
Another large barn with an even rust patina on the metal roofing. As you can see from many of my other pictures, many barns have a patchwork of roofing material that was put in place to extend the life of the barn without too much cost. In my youth, farmers with rusty roofs of barns facing the road would get offers of free paint jobs (on the road facing side) from companies wishing to advertise their products. Occasionally I still see what looks to me like a disgruntled farmer protesting Obama using their roof but gone are the days of barn roof billboards.