Nov 8, 2007

On Barns

I'm not sure exactly when my love affair with barns began, but there is likely a link in my roots as a kid who grew up in the industrial haze that once wafted over Detroit. While hardly someone who lived a deprived life, denied the chance to see rural landscapes, my childhood experiences in the country were nonetheless limited.

I have occasion to drive through farmlands in southern Michigan several times a week, and there is quite a variety of architectural styles in the barns I pass driving along the backroads of Monroe County. Quite a few follow the structural and aesthetic schemes of the barn near Ida in the above photograph.

One of my favorite types of barns is sort of an anti-style, the graying, weathered building that seems to possess just a few more years of useful working life. These barns typically have quite a few missing planks, and support a great deal of ancillary wildlife, like bats, owls, and mice.

I also secretly admire the folks who simply build a new barn next to the decaying timbers of a worn-out barn. The skeletal remains of dead barns stand as agricultural artifacts of a bygone era, and if I ever purchased a farm with such an edifice, I would leave it be, like a pastoral museum piece.

Part of the attraction I feel toward barns is due to the almost insolent countenance they present to the fiercest weather. If barns could speak, I suspect that they would sound like Charlton Heston or Clint Eastwood, scrunched up faces that would sneer at an oncoming storm: "Bring it on, windbag - even if you manage to blow me down, I'll be rebuilt in the same spot six weeks later."

Just don't ask me to paint a barn. The thought of covering 10,000 square feet or more of barn with a fresh coat of paint sounds like a job to contract out.


Anonymous said...


My husband's family is from Wisconsin -- The Dairy State. There, the "round barn" was built by/for dairy farmers.

We went to a wedding reception at a restored round barn that was used for events at a park. It was magnificent.

Check this out . .

microdot said...

Mike, here I am posting from probably from what I have gathered from some of your posts about Toledo, a few blocks from you!
I will be here in the land of giant inflatable turkeys for a few more days, then on to NYC for 5 days.
I spent yesterday morning driving up in Michigan admiring wooden barns.
I have to post a picture of my barn in's a stone structure from the late 18th century.

-Sepp said...

I love barns too. A kid could play in a barn for ten years and never find every nook and cranny.

The Screaming Nutcase said...

I miss my barn. It was held up with 12x12 lumber instead of steel I-beams, and the walls were 2x12s instead of plywood sheets (or worse yet, chipboard).