Barn Envy | Mark’s Remarks


I like barns. I don’t know why. Always have since I was a kid. It doesn’t matter the condition. I like them all.

I wrote years ago about an old barn that used to greet me when I drove to my hometown. It stood out in the middle of a field and said “Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco” on the side. It was always there to say hello and meant I was very close to home.

Since that column, the old barn fell down. I mourn its passing.

My earliest recollections of barns are of playing in them. My maternal grandparents had old barns and chicken houses on their property and my brother and our cousins had adventures there. We even cleaned up the “corn crib” once and fashioned a clubhouse out of the neat old room.

To me, barns are a place of solitude.

When we housed our horses at my paternal grandparents’ farm, we had a pole barn. It was a bit more modern than old wooden barns, but still a barn. I always loved to go out there to be around the hay bales stacked floor-to-ceiling and three to four deep from the walls. The barn was safe and cozy and calm. It was soundproof and I remember going in there on a cold winter day and feeling warm and protected.

My paternal grandparents also had an old dilapidated barn at the back of their property that once must have been a grand and wonderful place. Much larger than their big country home (or at least it seemed that big when we were small), it had seen better days by the time we were old enough to play there. We climbed old ladders to the heights of the barn, swung on old ropes and swept out an old feed room and played for hours in there with army men and toy guns, cars and anything we could find.

An old barn is a place for imaginations.

I always thought it would be fun to live in a barn. I’ve known people who have lived in converted barns or who have had apartments above barns. I don’t know why I’ve always thought that would be neat. I’m sure after living there, I might not think it was so special.

Perhaps I think I would feel the same solitude if I were to live in one.

There was an old converted barn I was in once that has stuck in my craw for many years. It was a well-kept, spacious barn that was mainly used to park antique cars or farm equipment.

A rather wealthy person owned it. The folks who owned it would often pull out all the vehicles, slick the place up a bit, and hold parties inside. The barn had a kitchen in it and a bathroom, as well as a wonderful big stone fireplace that was right in the middle.

It was an amazing place and I thought the owners must have been pretty thankful to have owned such a gem. Boy, was I jealous.

I’ve met other folks who love old barns. We are not a rare breed or anything. A lot of folks like barns. I drive along Route 3 and say hello to that big old red barn to the right, as well as some old houses and other buildings. I wish for some of them to be fixed up and refurbished, to give them purpose again.

And I still think about curling up on a hay bale in that old barn again after we’ve fed the horses, away from the cold wind and noises of outside.

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