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Talking it Over: The big red barn

Katie Erdman

Big red barns on farm places are becoming a thing of the past. Along with the barns, the disappearance of the silos that once stood proudly next to them is also taking place. The look of farm sites just doesn't seem right with out those big barns and silos.

The barn on our farm was not red but it was big. The biggest portion was the hayloft where the winter supply of hay and straw was stored. It was a place that I remember for fun and hard work.

I was never able to enjoy an old fashion barn dance which usually took place in the hay loft when most of the hay was gone. My parents talked about them occasionally and I have read stories about the great music, food and fun. Sadly, that is another event that has disappeared along with the big barns.

What I remember most about the barn was the work involved with building that winter supply. All the kids were put to work on hay and straw baling days with specific tasks. My task was to stand on a conveyor that ran along the top of the hayloft roof and grab the bales as they came up the elevator into the barn door located at the top opening. This meant leaning out the door and pulling the bales over the lip onto the conveyor.

It was a bit scary, as you are several feet above the ground to the outside and several feet of empty space below you to the hay loft floor. As the baling progressed through the summer, the stacks got a little closer so the potential fall to the floor didn't seem as bad, however, that look outside was pretty frightening. I have to say that doing this type of work in my youth has helped me overcome the fear of heights and I can now go on a ferris wheel, stand at the edge of a canyon or go up in airplanes without much fear (there are still a few scary moments.)

In reality, I probably had one of the easier tasks. Others had to lift those bales onto hay rakes or up into stacks. It was hot and heavy work but we were rewarded at the end of the day.

Baling days were the days when mom would buy pop for the kids and beer for the men. It was a treat that made you work hard and anxiously anticipate all day long. Then after quenching our thirst we all rode down to the lake to clean off and refresh for the next day.

It was exhilarating, exhausting and exciting. I miss those big barns, not the hard work that went on inside, but the great times that created even better memories.