Old Barn

You may have noticed the old barn in the pics from yesterday’s post about mowing hay. I don’t know very much about this barn because it belongs to our neighbor, whose land we farm, but here’s what I was able to find out about it. It was probably built in the late 1800s. It served as a place to store hay, house the farm animals such as the draft horses who worked the farm, dairy cattle, chickens, and the usual barn cats. The family farmed with horses until the 1950s, and then they went mechanical: tractors, combines, etc. Then it was used for the dairy cows until the mid 1980s when they stopped dairying. Since then, it has sat empty and unused, slowly succumbing to the weather and time. The roof of cedar shake shingles is more hole than roof now.

Doors hang crooked on their hinges.

Door Hinge

Binder twine saved for a later date still lies on a loft ladder step.

Loft Ladder

Binder Twine

A gate leans against the wall.


Old hay litters the floor and loft.

There is a musty smell and an eerie quiet.

I can imagine a time when it was filled with the sound of horses eating their feed,

Hay Manger For Feeding

cows mooing to be milked, and children playing in the loft. The horses would have been harnessed and taken out into the fields in the morning, and returned at night to be unharnessed, fed, watered, and left in their stalls for the night to sleep.

Stall Door

The dairy cows would have been brought into the barn from the field twice daily to be milked. Cats had their kittens in the straw. Children would have done part of their chores here, cleaning out stalls, and feeding the animals. They also would have played here, or just sat in the loft on rainy days dreaming. During haymaking time, there would have been a bustle of activity around the barn. Hay was cut and loaded onto horse drawn wagons,

and then the wagons would have pulled up under the large hay door.

The hay would have been loaded into the barn with a large hay hook at the end of a hemp rope on a pulley that removed the hay from the wagons, hoisted it up through the door, and into the loft. This hay would have been used all winter for animal feed. The rope and pulley are still there in the barn.

Hemp Rope


But many years have passed since hay was cut and stored this way. And this barn has not seen any activity for over a quarter century. I’ve seen many barns like this one over the years- quiet and unused, and it seems sad.

So I feel all the more glad when I see some of them still in use today- old, but still valued and cared for.

Have you ever seen an old barn, and wondered about its history?


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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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26 Responses

  1. Glyndalyn says:

    I love old barns. We have decaying old barns here in Tiny Hamlet, TN. They are the second fastest disappearing structures in America. The first are outhouses. We have some of those here, too. Some are still in use.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Glyndalyn,
      I didn’t know that barns were the fastest disappearing structures. Wow. Isn’t it sad?
      Thank you for your visit,

  2. Kristin says:

    I live in Iowa and LOVE driving by old barns! I wish they would stay the way they look right now and never disappear. Something that makes me sad and kind of mad: I think about what our current homes (lots of suburbs and developments) will look like in 125 years. I don’t think they will hold any nostalgia or old, forgotten beauty that farmsteads from the 1800s have today. I think they will be ugly squares of tan siding (if they are left at all). Driving through the country and looking at old farms is one of my favorite parts of living in the Midwest, and I hope it takes its time disappearing.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Kristin,
      I couldn’t agree more. Buildings today just won’t hold up the way the old ones have. And you are very right in saying that the old places have much more character. I don’t think future generations will be nostalgic at all about what is being built today.
      Thank you so much for visiting,

  3. My dream is to someday rescue a barn just like that, and make it into a bustle of activity again… only this time a place for retreats, weddings, meetings, etc.
    I’ll live next door in a log cabin. Now, where IS that winning powerball ticket??

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Lana,
      I would like to restore old barns too. Hate to see them disappearing. Would also like to have the log cabin as long as we are wishing on a star. :o)
      Take care,

  4. Melanie says:

    Love the post!! It is sad to think of all of the changes that have been made to affect our lives over the last 50 years! Some for the better, some make you wonder! I am an antique lover-and can appreciate what something used to be in its previous life! Enjoyed it!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Melanie,
      I too love antiques. So glad you enjoyed the post, and appreciate your stopping by,

  5. lynette says:

    what a shame. i can understand that maintaining it might not be your neighbours top priority, but the structure is beautiful, the cathedrals of the prairies?

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Lynette,
      I can’t blame the owner for not keeping the barn up. They no longer have any livestock, and so have no use for the barn. And it would be expensive to keep it up anyway. But it is sad to see so many of them fading away into history.
      Thanks for visiting,

  6. I loved your story about the barn. Every time I pass a barn, I always try to get a good look. What is it about a barn that draws people to it? I’m thinking it’s the idea of a way of life that is peaceful, one with nature and animals, and goodness. I admire the life of a farmer and his family.

    I have a story about an old abandoned feed mill. It is kinda like a big old barn, so I thought it was fitting. We moved out to the country when I was 15. Our new friend showed my sister and I and old feed mill. It wasn’t too far from our house…just through the woods and down the rail road tracks. We explored all over that mill. We used to go up the old wooden steps to the second floor..they were a little rickety and sloped to the left a bit, but that made it all the more fun. On the main floor there was a hinged door that layed flush into the floor. If you opened the door you’d find a little wooden ladder leading down to the basement. We used to dare each other to go down there as it was very dark and scary! One time my friend Dave actually went all the way down the ladder and we thought he was SO brave! I remember sitting on the wooden floor in an open doorway that faced the railroad tracks. We’d sit there for hours…the three of us…just talking, drinking bottles of Pepsi from the town store, sometimes smoking cigarettes, and watching the trains go by. I loved that old abandoned feed mill. I’m so glad it was a part of my life. Such good memories!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      Thank you so much for relating the story from your childhood. Those old feed mills are another structure that is vanishinig from the landscape.
      Glad you enjoyed the post, and appreciate your visit,

  7. Jessica says:

    I live in Kansas too!
    I love old barns and old abandoned houses. If only they could tell us all their stories and all that they have seen over the many many years that they have been standing.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Jessica,
      Welcome fellow Kansan! Oh, if only old barns and houses could talk. How facinating would that be.
      Thanks for your visit,

  8. Shailaja says:

    Oh, I love the old world charm of living on a farm. It’s incredible that the barn pictured in your post has withstood storms, tornadoes et al. for 100+ years.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hello Shailaja,
      Incredibly indeed when you think about it. High winds and tornadoes are not uncommon here, but those old buildings were built to last.
      Thanks for visitin’

  9. Glenda says:

    I used to spend one week of every summer at my nieces’ farm (we are six months apart in age). They had a big barn that we would climb around in. We played amongst the small bales of hay and dared each other to swing on a rope up there. We looked for the baby kittens that were hidden there and that lovely smell of hay, old wood, and manure. Kids today won’t have those memories. Time marches on I guess.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hello Glenda,
      There were a couple of old barns near where I grew up. We visited them often and explored their secrets. We were sometimes scared out of our wits too when a resident racoon would make a noise and we would fly from the barn terrified. But even that was fun too.
      Take care,

  10. Julie says:

    I love it….Great history lesson. Yes my Granny and Grandpa did all that.. Have some pictures too. Love to think of all the rustle and bustle that went on in there. Great to ponder…what a ton of work they endured. Thats why none of them were fat…they worked off all their food….america… everything is so easy now….

  11. Jen says:

    Beautiful old barn….these pics of it make me sad. I have an old barn very similar to it. Came with the farm we bought 3 years ago, its probably one of the main reasons I fell in love with the place. I had dreams of fixing it up but I know it will never happen. The holes in the roof are growing and multiplying and it breaks my heart to see it happen. We still use it for hay, equipment and I park the tractor in it (probably shouldn’t) and the barn swallows call it home. Its a beautiful old barn and I would love to hear what its walls had to say.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Jen,
      It is sad about the old barns, and I guess we shouldn’t get sentimental about them, but we do. It’s just hard to think of all the hard work that went into them, and now they are falling away into ruin.
      Thank you for visiting,

  12. Mike Waber says:

    I loved the story and the pictures. Brings back childhood memories and of less stressful times for me. I exspecialy love the picture of the picture of the barn with the horses and the hay being unloaded. I would love to have a copy of that picture. Please respond and tell me if it’s possible to obtain that picture. Thank you for your time. Mike 765-714-4701

  13. Jeanne says:

    Suzanne, this was so neat, to see the old barn and read your comments. I’ve always enjoyed old barns – the looks, nooks and crannies, smells of old hay, wood, etc., everything! I wish too that they would last and last! Thanks for giving this link again.

  14. Helena Gregoire says:

    Is there a fee to use your photos in my own story?

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