Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An essay of barn photos & memories November 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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Near Poy Sippi, Wisconsin.

Near Poy Sippi, Wisconsin.

MY FONDNESS FOR BARNS, for photographing them, never wanes.

Along Wisconsin State Highway 21.

Along Wisconsin State Highway 21.

When I fit my eye to the viewfinder, swing my camera lens toward a barn and click, it’s as if I’m clicking my heels together and flying into my past.

Also along Wisconsin Highway 21.

Also along Wisconsin Highway 21.

I am trudging down the barn aisle, leaning into the wheelbarrow heaped with ground corn. I am scooping that feed by the shovelful to top silage pitched from the silo and parceled before the Holsteins’ empty stanchions.

Near Poy Sippi, Wisconsin.

Near Poy Sippi, Wisconsin.

Later, as milk pulsates into milking machines and Dad has poured the milk into a tall thin pail, I am lugging the precious liquid to the milkhouse, handle biting into my chore-gloved hand.

Another farm near Poy Sippi.

Another farm near Poy Sippi.

Memories come into focus—the golden booming radio voices from ‘CCO, the slap of a cow’s tail, hot urine splattering into gutters, cats swarming around a battered hubcap, the stench of manure, taut twine snapped with my yellow jackknife and prickly alfalfa itching my exposed wrists.

An old-fashioned farm along Wisconsin Highway 21.

An old-fashioned farm along Wisconsin Highway 21.

But, mostly, I see my farmer dad in those barns I photograph.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling