“NOTHING DEFINES RURAL Minnesota more than a red barn.
Whether nestled among the rolling hills of southeastern Minnesota or anchored to the earth in the wide open spaces of the west, red barns symbolize the hope, the fortitude and the dreams of generations of Minnesotans.
For inside the walls of our barns, farm families have worked together, pitching manure, stacking bales, milking cows, building a livelihood as much as a lifestyle. Strong work ethics have been birthed here, life lessons taught.
While many red barns now stand empty, their roofs sagging, their paint peeling, they remain a symbol of all that is good about life in rural Minnesota.”
Several years ago, I wrote those paragraphs for a feature, “Color my world,” published in the fall 2005 issue of Minnesota Moments magazine. The story focused on creating crayon color names—barn red among them—that speak to the uniqueness of Minnesota.
Of the dozens and dozens of stories I’ve written for this Minnesota publication since 2004, I rank this feature as perhaps my most creative and fun.
Clearly, I love old barns.
During my childhood, I spent as much time in the barn as anywhere on my family’s Redwood County farm. I scraped manure into gutters, pushed wheelbarrows full of ground feed down the barn aisle, scooped silage, bedded straw, carried pails of milk from the barn to the milkhouse, fed calves, tossed bales of hay and straw down from the haymow…
I understand barns.
Campbell’s is undertaking a project to restore five barns selected through a voting process. One of the 10 finalist barns is a late 1940s or early 1950s dairy barn at The Farm on St. Mathias near Brainerd. You have until January 5 to cast your ballot for this Minnesota barn that has already been partially-restored with a new roof, dormers, cement floor and hay mow. See the above Campbell’s website to vote. (I had to laugh, though, at the error on the soup website stating that The Farm on St. Mathias is affiliated with the Crow Wine County Future Farmers of America Chapter. That should be Crow Wing.)
Friends of Minnesota Barns recently selected winners in an annual contest aimed at barn preservation. Top honors went to David and Marlyce Logan of Pipestone in the farm use category. Carl and Wanda Erickson of Hawley won in non-farm use. See the Friends website for additional information.
For those of you, who, like me, grew up on farms, there’s a certain comfort in knowing that barn preservation ranks high in importance to a major company like Campbell’s and to grassroots organizations like the Friends of Minnesota Barns.
© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
(Barn photos were taken in the spring of 2009.)