Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dissolution of a Dairy

September 1, 2009

On the way home from work again this past Sunday AM I noticed this classic barn. Maybe someone just hauled it in from Wisconsin and plopped it down alongside the road I've driven hundreds of time, but I doubt it. More likely its always been there and for some reason I am just now noticing it. Maybe its because our own dairy is facing changes. Maybe its because I drive slower when I am tired. Maybe its because the sun shining through the wall openings caught my eye. Its hard to say what caught my attention this time but now that it has, I feel obliged to find out more.

Take these weathered boards for example. Were they originally red ? Were they cut by hand or machine ? Why is this one board going horizontally when there are no such boards across the other windows ? Why can't I find this perfect shade of grey at Menards ?

These metal pieces are the old stanchions. Cows ready to be milked would step up, sticking their heads between the bars and then lowering their heads to savor fresh grain or hay on the other side. Eventually the dairy farmer, or hired man , or the farm owners child would reach over the cows head, pulling the pipes together in a simple latch lock to keep the cow from backing out before the allotted milking time was complete. You can almost see the little Jerseys, named Martha and Moonbeam, swishing their tails at the flies, stretching their necks into the next cows grain pile.

And then there were these letters written up high on the inner wall. WOM 1930. I couldn't read the third row of letters from the ground. Was the barn built in 1930 ? Or did the two randy brothers just show up with the paint can on that date ? What does WOM stand for ? "Way Out Milk ?", "Watch out mom ?" "Where's Our Money ?"

This last pic was from the west side. It appears as if someone is carefully dismantling the barn. Maybe to be rebuilt on the set of a new Western ? Perhaps to resell the planks, the beams, the doors and hinges at an antique store ? At least its not been burned or bull dozed. I'm becoming increasingly more fascinated with this barn even now as I blog about it. What was its past ? Does it have any kind of future ? Or will it disappear into our Central Illinois plains like thousands of hard working barns before it ? Emblems of our farm heritage gone forever.

Challenge to self : Make a few phone calls, especially to the older wiser group of farmers still in our area. Explore the history of this barn, the process that is striping away its foundation and the reasons why. Then keep a running commentary about such on this blog. Ok . I will.

1 comment:

  1. That's really neat, Donna. There was an article in the Pantagraph recently about how the latest fad is to renovate old barns into homes. Can't you just see it?? Micah LOVED the idea....