For years, I’ve had a fascination with barns. Although the basic architecture is relatively the same, each one has it’s unique qualities. Some have larger ramps and doors. Some have more ventilation. The fancy ones have an aesthetic detail, usually to denote the builder.
But they all have one thing in common; they need to house animals, or they will fail. Any time I see one, I feel as though I should document it; a type of photographic tribute if you will. My heart hurts a little every time I come across one.
At first you can’t imagine it. After all, these barns were not just housing for the farmer’s animals, but it was a status symbol. The larger the barn, the more profitable you were. TWO massive bank barn peaks were a sign that you were a successful operation. When you consider most of these structures were constructed in the 1800s, you have to appreciate the labor it took to erect them. Without heavy equipment, leverage was the muscle of the day. It was dangerous work.
Which is why it is baffling that they are being allowed to decay.
It starts small, a couple of loose boards. The wind catching and working on a section of roof. Perhaps the farmer hasn’t had time to repair it. Perhaps the barns are empty and only the land is being worked. Wood ain’t cheap and if the structure isn’t functional….
The elements are unforgiving. Time waits for no barn. Winter loads the beams, the moisture working away and rusting the nails.
Summer isn’t any better; bleaching out the wood over time. Plants weave their way into the walls of the barn, taking root and forcing through the boards to reach daylight.
It’s painful to see a barn at this stage. Once proud housing for livestock, it now barely holds its foundation. Like a horse that is crippled in the pasture.
You can practically hear it calling out, “Pull me down. Don’t let me fall down.” A type of mercy killing if you will.
Because eventually, a storm will come. A wind will blow that will defeat the massive timbers. Gravity will prevail. History will crumble.