Everyone has a story
about barns...
barn testimonials

In southwest Michigan there are a variety of barn styles. They are things of beauty not unlike a carriage house (city barn) in historic districts. From time to time you see people who have restored their barn for which they should receive some kind of award. All too often they are let go to fall in on themselves. There is a unique structure next to my lake house near a place called Paw Paw, west of Kalamazoo, Mi. that is unlike anything I have seen elsewhere. I'll take a picture of it and send it to you. There are two on this lake. The one next to me isnt too well preserved but the other is. My Dad told me he use to go there in the summer when he was a teenager and dance to big bands. It's interesting how I ended up next door so many years later. Perhaps I was ment to keep an eye on it for future preservation. --Mike Fleckenstein

My grandma had a barn, a red one, on her land which she sold a few years ago because it was too far from town and she couldn't keep it up anymore. The barn was next to Thomas Creek, where she drew her water for the fields, and the creek was lined with Douglas firs that had jagged trunks about two thirds of the way up where they had been lopped off in the Columbus Day storm of 1960. Or thereabouts. Mostly we weren't allowed to play in the barn because of missing floorboards and such, and of more immediate concern to us kids, the mean goats and chickens that roamed in the vicinity. So instead we would turn up crawdads in the creek, and collect them to eat with melted butter. But the barn had secrets, too, in drooping cardboard boxes amidst the hay, deer antlers and obsidian and sharp Indian arrowheads of all sizes, turned up in the earth each spring. And massive, cleaved thundereggs that my grandpa had never gotten around to polishing before he died. -- Manja Sachet

Barns are some of the most beautiful structures I've seen, everyone, even pseudo-city kids like myself have barn memories. You picture communities building them together, you see huge, cathedral-like spaces, you smell the warmth of animals and people. Barn ideas - dance hall, studios, performance space, circus home. Haven for wild injured things and loose kids. School house, library, monastery. Maple syrup processing place. Space for 15 weaving looms. Writers retreat, daily newspaper, home for chainsaw-art. Cut holes in the walls and ceiling, make it into a huge light sculpture. Take the barn and secede from the union; form another nation. Observatory. Plant trees inside; let them take over, take pictures of the progress for the next fifty years. Old-age home for musicians, instruments of every variety provided. Public baths. Giant bird-house. Foundry, sculpture garden, photo studio. Theater. Start a college, Jess, start a library of homemade books. --Margaret

A barn is a good thing. We used to have a barn. Yes, the same one Spice ran away to where Billy found her 3 months later the poor thing. Our landlords big dog must have chased her in there. Anyway, back to the barn...it had lots of cool stuff in it. The most useful was all the kindling we needed to get the wood stove going. There was also some soft pine we were allowed to burn from a tree that fell on the property but it wasnt great firewood. There were old whiskey bottles in there, the barn was probably over 100 years old. I'm not sure how old the bottles were. Billy helped put a new roof on that old barn. i always liked the barn, and so I say onto you... you GO, girl! -- Jennifer Weiss

When I think of barns, I think of hay and horses, tack and saddlesoap, of surprised birds and unexpectedly frightened foxes. I used to have a horse named Amarada. We had built her a makeshift stall with a door to her pasture. I would put her feed in a bucket, her hay in a crib, and then I'd climb over the side and climb onto her back. I'd sit there for awhile and then I would lay back, my head on her haunches, my legs dangling to either side. I would rock gently from side to side as she shifted position or aggressively yanked out some hay. I could stay like that for hours. Another time I came in to feed her I startled a fox that was sleeping next to the stack of hay, hidden by the bales. I'm not sure which of us was more surprised. We both yipped and the fox took off, shooting past Amarada's feet and out the door. I don't think Amarada so much as blinked. Once when I was locked out of the house in the middle of winter, I went out to the barn, ripped open several bales of hay, and nested in it to keep warm. When you're still for long enough, the birds lose their shyness and come to play in the rafters. -- Mimi Noyes

Yes, I have a barn story. It involves a barn on Vermont route 302, about 2 miles east of the intersection of rte. 25. The barn looks exactly like the one pictured......

The year was 1976, I was sixteen, driving west on 302 in a 64 chevelle at about 9:45 one beautiful Vermont summer evening. I was minding my own business, driving about 65. I saw the deer just two jumps before I hit it. The lights went out, the hood flew up... I thought it was the end!

Luckily, the road was straight and I got the car stopped before I went over the bank. After checking out the damage I put the hood down, put the car in neutral and coasted downhill to the next house. It happens to be the house that belongs to your barn! Very small world here on the www. -- Jody Howe

Two years ago I needed hay to insulate the foundation of my "then wife's" house in South Woodbury, VT. Hay doesn't come cheap. I was telling Michael about my daily routine of going to Waterbury Center and piling ten dollars worth of hay bales on top of and inside the Volvo wagon. It was really quite a hassle and I knew that it was going to take a LOT of trips to insulate the ole' school house. Well, Michael took pity on me and told me how to get to his place and where I could find thirty or forty bales of hay in the barn. I enlisted the help of a friend with a truck. The price was right. It's a really cool barn too... just doesn't have as much hay in it as it used to! -- Rik Dryfoos

i live in a barn. it's of the west coast variety, less timber and of a smaller stature than the eastern barns. initially built to store a modecum of hay, a feeding area, a buggy, tack room, loft..field mice?, etc.., i found it when i ran out of oakland (yes, ran, gun in hand) to my grandfathers cattle ranch in the gilroy hills a few weeks after he expired at the tremendous age of 98. i had the idea of building from scratch, when my visiting mother reminded me of a structure on the southern border of our parcel. we ventured out through the fields until we found the dilapidated structure, barely standing, beside a stand of still undetermined in type, towering trees. she appologized for wasting my time,and i instantly decided to salvage the wreck. one year later, we'd a contractor, various gilroy street urchins, and i) managed to lift the mess of rotted redwood off the ground by a series of ropes, cables, pullies, jacks, and snot off the ground, pour a foundation, and gently drop the skeleton back down onto it. another year was spent cutting and pasting the bastard back together, with all the salvagable wood( a 100 yr. old chicken coop and odds and ends from the long days of ice-chest scavenger hunts) until it was insulation board time,finishing by wrapping it in new 1x12 redwood, then retarded roofers acting as though my galvanized corrugated tin was a fair ride, and various other absurdities: VOILA! the barn, reborn. ( i wish it weren't 3:42 a.m. right now). solar powered, with all the ammenities and modern conveniences (indoor copper tub/outdoor shower with the supa-dupa water pressure/ms. pac man/galaga/donkey kong jr./pool table/keg of coast range beer -- gilroy's finest -- in the fridge/ping pong/bocce ball/horseshoes/lawn galore/volleyball/croquet/basketball court in the workspace....) and.... sounds like a bad frat house. hmmmm... : a huge barbeque pit with gigantic logs of oak to sit around at night, a porch with a disturbing amount of sun during the days, and nare a neighbor in sight. i sound like a braggart(or an idiot), but hopefully supporting the concept of 'barn'. i spend all of my time painting, with occasional weekend-long visits by friends for playtime. sorry about all the blawblawblaw. : i live in a barn. -- Pete Lecompte

My daddy has a barn. Big, red and beautiful. Built in the 1700's, I can only dream of the secrets it keeps. Echos of horse hooves and the stench of pig poop linger. This is daddys special place, where he keeps his pride. This is the place in which he lives the life he wishes he really could. This is the place where he's away from the hustle and bustle of reality. We all need a place like this, a sanctuary. And for my daddy it's the big, red, beautiful barn. -- Martha

If it were me, I'd turn it into Jessamyn's WebWorks and Animal House (e.g. a naturopathic pet shop or some such). Barns should always stay creature-friendly -- Nancy Wildin, SPL Webmistress

I like round barns. There are many dead cats in every round barn. These cats seem to expire while searching for a corner to urinate in. -- Jeff Kuehl

My folks grew up in Iowa. So whenever the family went to visit my grandparents, there was always a barn around. As kids we would climb around in those creaky old dilapidated wood structures trying to avoid falling through the floor or stepping on a rusty nail. I've never seem a real barn that didn't have a personality. There were scary ones with rats, there were smelly ones filled with cows, there were cavernous ones with mountains of hay. Those old barns never seemed strong enough to withstand a windstorm but somehow outlasted all the tornadoes that came through there. -- Paul Ellis

New barns, whole barns, wholly usable barns -- these do not interest me much. But a decadent barn! I grew up among barns that were falling "into desuetude"; they were romantic in a way a kid could understand.

If there is no danger of hurting yourself, I've no interest in going inside. (My days as a cowhand are long past.) But if the floor has holes in it, or is rotting in places... such barns beckon. -- Timothy Virkkala

When I was young, me and my neighbor (Tommy Faber) could dig holes as deep as we wanted. Out in the woods near our house, we started digging and intended to reach China. When we realized that was too far, we tried to make it into a swimming pool, but our hoses wouldn't reach that far into the woods. Eventually we just covered it with sticks and leaves and made a giant booby trap. At least that's the way I remember it. -- Tim Andrews, high school chum

In England there are barn houses. These are beautiful stone structures with slate roofs. They were built from those damn stones that the plow slammed into. Once you had enough of these stones piled up, you could build another barn.

In the Western U.S. there are also barn houses. These were built from those stupid trees you cut down to make your farm. If you're rich you'll put a rusting galvanized metal roof or just slap some cedar shingles which will fall of in ten years or so. Most of these you see from the highway are falling to pieces. -- Scott Larson

Jessamyn--I hope that you can insulate the place, or have many animals to bring inside...as you probably know, Vermont gets pretty cold in the winter. Otherwise, sounds like a great idea. I remember the old barn in Enfield, New York that our landlord owned. It was off-limits to us kids, so of course I had to check it out often. Dad was hauled out of bed once to help in the delivery of an oversized calf, which made for a pretty mememorable night...kind of a cross between The Miracle of Birth and a rugby scrum. -- Alan Unsworth

a red barn has always marked the road to my parents' house. in recent months/years the barn has slouched under its burdent and the midwest winds, hunkering closer to the ground each time i pass. people will be lost when the barn falls. -- Valerie Harris

when i was little in ohio, we lived in an old house, rebuilt by my parents. across the road stood, or rather leaned one of the many barns of my memory. my grandpapa had many barns, but i do not remember ever seeing one in good repair. they held a fascination and a fear or me (we, of course, were not allowed in them). my grandpapa simply filled them up over the years, frequenting auctions, buying 100 toilet seats here, 40 long timbers of walnut there, and stacking them in the many barns of my child hood. since, most of his barns have burned down, along with the bounty they contained. the teens of today hiding out in them, falling asleep with cigarette in hand while my grandpapa escapes to florida. thus as i move to california this month, i look to a barn for a home as i go. may it find me and fit me well so that i may fill it with my own treasures. -- bess forst

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