The Red Barn

A big thank you goes to Mother Nature for sending this March blizzard, finally giving me reason to update my blog photo to reflect winter.  Better late than never, I suppose. But now I have an excuse to tell you about this dilapidated structure that graces my homepage.

This is what my family refers to as the Red Barn even though its paint has faded and peeled into nothingness.  It relaxes in my dad’s cattle pasture just south of my childhood home and has weathered many storms, taking spring winds in stride, losing a few shingles, boards and doors, but always maintaining its stance, giving shelter to the cattle in spring, summer and fall.

My sister and a friend used to meet in the barn’s loft after school and gossip about boys, volleyball and horses. They carved in a beam “Best Friends Forever, Stacey & Tammy”.

As a brooding teen girl, I’d toss a satchel over my shoulder, follow the creek back to the barn and perch for hours in the loft door, writing and contemplating life.

I proved myself a worthy farmhand in that barn. My dad and I pulled calves under the low-hanging loft floor, struggled to calm angry cows and caught bulls for the vet. We filled the loft with hay every summer on the hottest, most humid day. Thankfully, I only had to unload the racks.  My dad, brother and often a classmate of mine stacked the loft, melting in the sticky, dusty air.

But the barn gained notoriety during an ill-conceived babysitting adventure back in the late ‘90s.

My sister, some friends and I were the oldest in a group of thirty kids who had wandered down to the creek to wade on an August Sunday. The group was offspring of my parents’ closest college friends who had been escaping suburbia for years to come to the farm for an annual August get-together. (This summer we will mark 37 years of this pilgrimage.)  Sunday afternoon was adult swim, so we kids abandoned the homestead and headed to the creek.  We thought Dad had locked the cattle herd in the south pasture.  He did not.

It wasn’t long before the bull and his herd of cows and calves chased us into the barn, up to the loft where we sat for what felt like hours, unnerved, hot and tired. The cattle milled around below leaving us no opportunity for escape.

The parents’ version of the story begins when the quiet afternoon became too quiet and two moms decided to check on the kids.  How responsible of them.

We spotted the strolling moms from the south loft door and went hoarse yelling for help. Shortly thereafter, the dads showed up in the pick-up and rescued us.

The barn was featured in many “What I Did on Summer Vacation” essays that school year.

Now my kids visit the Red Barn in the spring to check on new calves and wade the creek in its shadow on hot summer afternoons.  I pray the wind will spare it another year. That barn means so much to this farm.

11 responses to “The Red Barn

  1. Ha, great memoirs. Where, oh where, did the children go, oh where, oh where could they be………stuck in the loft of the barn after being chased by a bull…..oops, too much adult swim time.


    What a memory!!!

    Sent from my iPad

  3. Thanks Katie!

  4. Thanks for reading ladies. I thought ya’ll would appreciate a reprisal of the “stuck in the barn” story.

  5. That was not just another snow storm moving across Northern Illinois and I’m glad someone took total advantage of the blessing.

  6. Thank you for including my post in your blog and thank you for making a great point! We do connect with our “consumers” in nostalgia and yet are trying so hard to tell our story of how we farm today maybe we are ignoring our memories. Good points. Thanks again!

    • Thanks for sharing your memories! Your post brought back my own memories from my grandpa’s Red Barn in central Illinois. At our farm we have an old white barn that would still be “The White Barn” if it were painted red…which it obviously never will be.

  7. 30 little ones to keep occupied…I have no idea how you did it, amazing!!

    • Oh I think we survived because not everyone was so little. But I do remember somebody claiming the hay dust was making it hard to breathe. That was unnerving. I can’t remember who though . . . ah, just one chapter the farm party story. : )

  8. My favorite part was when you say that the parents thought it was too quiet!

  9. Pingback: Remembering Today |

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