Another Barn Falls In
by Brandt Ainsworth of Franklinville, NY
artwork by Brandt’s son, Nicholas
The barn was built around a century ago. A pair of double doors on the front flapped when the wind blew, and a short service door was on the side. It wasn’t a big barn, about 30 feet wide by 40 feet long with a small hay mow above. It had a couple of windows for light, and of course a window in the peak. There was a hitching rail outside that gave it a certain welcoming charm. A charm that seemed to say, “tie up to the rail, and c’mon in.” Maybe it looked welcoming because it had more the shape of a house, than the shape we picture when we think, “barn.” It wasn’t really much of a barn, but it was different, and I always admired it. I often wondered if it was a blacksmith shop in the old days, despite being so far from the village.
I saw the old barn just yesterday, when I was headed home with a load of fence posts. Nobody was around, so I tied the team to a rotted pair of ropes on the the hitching rail and poked around. I fought with small boxelder and sumac trees as I walked around the outside. Looking from the South, it was clear the barn had a definite lean; probably beyond repair. Probably nobody cared anyway, but me. The roof was in good shape, and after nosing around inside, I figured a little work could save it. I knew, however, that there’s nobody who cares enough to do the little work.
I climbed the ladder to the mow, and saw that it was empty except for an old pair of fly nets. I watched my step as I walked around the hay mow. I saw the name, “Edgar”, carved into a rafter with a jack knife. I strained to get close to see if there was a last name I could make out, but slipped on some hay chaff. I caught my footing before my leg went down the hay chute. It took me back to when I was a boy carving my name with a jack knife in an old barn not far away. It also took me back to when I was a 13 year old boy, who became a thirteen year old man when my Dad fell down a hay chute and spent two weeks in the hospital; leaving me to run the farm mostly by myself. My rattling around caused the door to the mow to blow open giving enough light on the wall so I could read some faint words written in pencil. The lettering was the kind taught in a one room school house, and said: “first load of hay put in this barn on June 29, 1914.”