I cannot save this old barn. Even if I were in the business of saving old barns–which I most emphatically am not–I could not save this old barn. It is already too far gone as it is. To restore it would cost too much, more than can be justified by any practical reasons. Even were it not too far gone, it is merely a relic of an economic unit that exists no longer in these parts–the family farm. As such, it has no purpose anymore. Nor was it built to last forever. It is a thing that has served out its useful life. Yet simply because it still stands here, the property taxes are significantly higher than they would be if it did not.
I already saved it once. Long ago.
It is not a barn of architectural or antiquarian interest. It is only coming up on 100 years of age. Nails were not used in the construction of the frame. The beams are pinned together with wooden pegs. That does not make it unusual.
What made the barn unusual was its twin that stood corner to corner with it on the bias. Twin red barns sitting up on the ridgeline. I was here alone as a young man watching the place while my parents were on a business trip, one of their rare trips. I believe this was in the mid-seventies. One of those raging thunder storms boiled up. The crack of the lightning bolt that hit the other barn was deafening. That barn was engulfed in flames in an instant. I called the fire department. I strung a garden hose and made a pitiful attempt to keep the end of this barn wet until they got here. The heat from the other was breathtaking. The end of this barn was catching. The fire department was able to preserve this barn, but the only thing that made it distinctive, its twin, was gone. How this one has survived all the tornadoes since I have no idea. The tornadoes come off the flat and then skip along the high ground.
So I explain to this barn that I saved it once. I was here. I called the fire department. I have no responsibility to save it again. Nor could I if I did have that responsibility. Or if I wanted to. I am not in the business of saving old barns. That is not what I do. I do not even wish that I could save this barn. I do not even live here. I live in Mexico.
Cows in those stanchions used to be be milked here underneath the barn, believe it or not. Underneath the barn the butterfat was separated with a cream separator for sale. The remaining skimmed milk was mixed with ground grain with which to slop the hogs. But I do not know why I am writing about that because I really, honestly do not care. Nor is there any earthly reason why anyone else should have the slightest interest.
I have resolved to go this far. I will not let it fall. I will let it stand until it obviously can stand no more. Then I will take it down. I will not let it fall. If I am too old to take it down when that time comes, then there will be another fire.
For the time being I take pictures of it in its extremity.