Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

My enduring appreciation of barns January 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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Barn on the way to Northfield

OLD BARNS ALWAYS TURN my head, including this one along Minnesota Highway 3 between Faribault and Northfield.

Weathered wood, a strong roof line, the physical bulk of the barn, the work once done therein, the stories this agrarian building could tell all cause me to notice and ponder.

It is my own rural roots, my years of laboring in a barn—scooping manure, pushing wheelbarrows heaped with ground corn, shoveling scoops of smelly silage, lugging tall cans of frothy milk—which connect me to this anchor farm building.

Though decades have passed, those memories remain strong, unweathered by time or age.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


43 Responses to “My enduring appreciation of barns”

  1. Even though I have only been inside of perhaps a handful of barns — and darn sure didn’t do any work in them — my family and I have always had a fascination with the dilapidated barns spotted in the distance off of the highways that we have traveled. Those barns that refuse to finally fall down completely…and stubbornly stand half upright for decades are a sight that always grabs my attention.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    What a lovely barn. My mom is drawn to barns also and has painted quite a few in years long ago. I have one of those barn paintings and need to find where it is stashed! Barns tell stories, don’t they?? I can just imagine the animals all hunkered down in there during the cold weather like we are having now . This picture does not look as cold as if feels now. Brrrr.

    • Oh, how fortunate you are to have a barn painting done by your mom. My brother has a pencil drawing of our home barn done by my cousin. I should see about getting a copy of that made.

      I took this barn photo a few weeks ago, when it was much warmer.

      What a warm welcome home you’ve had, my friend. Minus 22 degrees here this a.m. with a minus 47 degree windchill. I’m hunkering down for the day, writing poetry for a competition, doing laundry, maybe bake something later.

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    The barns are my fave, too, and I love how the “barn quilt” idea has taken hold in so many places. Around here, there are self-guided tour folders available to make for a wonderful country road drive. Adds an additional dimension to the landscape and much personality!!!!!! Stay warm, my Friend. Hugs…………….

  4. You are pouring my cool-aid. I can’t get enough of these barns and their weathered wood comprised of wonderful color and textures. The stories these structures could tell; that is what keep Cyndie and I roaming the countrysides in search of these fading treasures.

  5. cecilia Says:

    Oh what a stunning barn! I would love to be farming in that one.. what a sight.. thank you audrey!

  6. Barn love….how content you and I would be with a barn to nurture.

    • Absolutely. I thought perhaps you had a barn on your rural acreage.

      • No such luck…we spent nearly 7 years searching the area for just that…barn on acreage. We settled for acreage. There was a barn here at one time but the previous owner burned it down. I saw a photo of it….so sad! This property was a working farm from the time it was settled in the 1800’s. There is no remains of that life above ground any longer, but just dig a little and it’s former life begins to reveal itself.

      • Oh, the treasures you can find when you dig. We’ve uncovered some in our backyard, where “junk” was once tossed upon the hillside.

        How sad that the original owner burned down the barn. That still happens all too often and it saddens me.

  7. I love to go back home where there are still working barns – barns that look like the one in your picture. All too often these days barns are fall-down structures. In many counties of rural PA there are still some beautiful traditional-looking, WORKING barns. Thanks for the picture.

    • That’s the key word, WORKING. Once a barn is emptied of animals, it seems to fall apart. It has something to do with the heat and moisture generated by the animals, which keeps the wood from drying. Also, if a barn sits unused, it definitely is not cared for as well.

  8. Bernie Says:

    I too love barns…stay warm!

  9. Mike Says:

    Old barns bring back great memories of exploring the barn on my Grandma’s farm. While I didn’t actually grow up on a farm I did spend enough time there during the summer vacations to know that picking rock in the heat was no fun, picking milkweek for a nickel a piece could be lucrative to a 8 year old and that I enjoyed trapping gophers. Also learned: Wear long sleeves and long pants when baling hay LOL. To this day I can’t drive past a hay field without laughing at myself. Dad warned me but at that age I thought he was insane for not wearing shorts and a tank top in 90º weather. My greatest find was capturing his first deer rack from 1965 that he forgot about before the old barn finally collapsed. I restained them and mounted them myself for him.

    • Mike, it sounds like you learned some good lessons on the farm, all ones I can relate to except being paid for pulling milkweeds or cockleburrs on our family farm.

      How very nice of you to save your dad’s first deer rack.

  10. Jackie Says:

    You know how I feel about old barns….love this one 🙂

  11. I’ve got a barn for tomorrow too. One…from several angles inside and out!

  12. McGuffy Ann Says:

    I agree with you. I am always drawn to scenes like this!

  13. elmueller74 Says:

    You’re not the only one! It’s been near the top of my list to get some shots of many of the barns in the area. Thanks for sharing.

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