Barns in America

Traveling to north Michigan, across Illinois and through Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and back into Oklahoma, I became intrigued with barns and the state of farming in America. This barn is Silver Lake in Traverse City, Michigan. A beautiful well-kept barn and grounds with a neat silo and a good roof, this barn seemed the essence of the small long-established family farm. These barns are huge and stand out above the farmland and houses around them. Some had silos of stone or brick. Many had silos missing. Some were maintained and many were decaying and no longer used.

The Boone Farm is a landmark. The family is proud of it and maintains it. Notice the stone base and the word BOONE across the front. Beside it is a small shed and the farmhouse which is small by comparison to this monster-sized barn. The porch of the white clapboard house is embellished with scrollwork–a fine touch of beauty for its day.

This stone barn must have been used as a home at one time. Now it is full of fresh-baled hay. It is located east of Westville, Arkansas. It is built of round white and gray rocks. I can imagine it with pigs, cows, a pair of mules, and a chicken yard. The farmhouse is gone; maybe burned down or swept away by a tornado. Who knows?

Many old weathered barns like this one seem to still be in use. Imagine it full of life with snow banked against it outside. Imagine the farmer and his sons working- feeding the animals, forking down clean hay from the loft and dried corn from a silo, long-since dismantled. Imagine children playing in the loft; hide and seek and swinging on a rope out of the loft to the floor below.

Several old red barns had white trim and the white arches painted on the side doors like this one does. I wondered if that style is a particular ethnic style like a Polish farm, or a German farm. I will have to study. The silo is empty and in bad repair. Barns are not used as much for farming, for animals, for hay or storing tractors and wagons. They are picturesque reminders of the days when a farm could support a family growing corn, beets, potatoes, working a cherry or apple orchard, tapping maple trees for syrup, milking a barn full of black and white dairy cows, or harvesting wheat.
There is certainly still much farming going on. We are a rich country as far as arable land is concerned. Farmers have formed cooperatives and they have the means to ship to markets and yet they cannot compete with the huge conglomerates that have the money for irrigation systems, major equipment like combines and tractors, fertilizers, crop storage with refrigeration, transporting, and marketing.
We drove past hundreds and hundreds of miles of corn, soybeans, and past orchards of peaches, apples, and cherries. We saw farm equipment, irrigators, windmills, and barns; larger barns with tin roofs, larger silos for the huge amounts of corn a farmer can produce with all the equipment -faster and more efficient than a team of mules.
We stopped at one old barn and bought corn. We stopped at still another to buy gladiolas – white with pink edges. We dropped our quarters into a weathered wooden box since noone was minding shop.
Soon I will tell you about the trip -the lakes, the bay, the birds, the foods, the people, the fun, and mishaps. I’m too tired now. Be watching for more beautiful barn photos.

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