Sunday, February 24, 2008

Family Barn, Lost

This is a photograph of our family dairy barn from the back, taken in the 1950's. The Twin Locust Farm goes back to homesteading days in our family. This was the second barn built; an older smaller barn with an open hay mow and hand-hewn beams as torn down years ago, the old lumber sold. I spent hours and hours in the barn when I was a girl, watching Dad, throwing down hay from the mow, feeding calves.

This is the scene we saw from our front porch in the 1960s. The hay mow is open and you can see the JD baler on the left by the corn crib, the elevator, and a wagon of hay near the trees on the right. Dad didn't use those large round bales we see in farm fields now; he baled hay into rectangular bales that could be lifted by hand. Before he bought the baler that kicked hay bales into a high-sided wagon, and an elevator to lift them up into the second story of the barn. The local farmers worked together, going from place to place. Working in teams, they stacked the heavy rectangular bales on a flat wagon, and lifted them into the mow with heavy forks and a pulley system. Dad expanded the barn around 1958, with more pens, more mow space, more stanchions for a larger herd of, an upgraded attached milk house with a stainless steel refrigerated bulk tank, and a new silo. When I was in high school I would climb up to the top of the taller silo just for the stupendous view of surrounding fields and neighboring farms. In 1968 Dad sold the dairy operation and stopped using the barn.

Here is my brother, about 1961, on a tractor in front of the old milk house and the open barn door. These days my brother sells John Deere farm equipment, just as Dad did after he quit milking cows and opened an implement dealership in Whitewater.

Ralph and Dean just before the dairy herd was sold. After our father died in 1983, Mom rented out the farm house and land for a few years, then some acres were sold, and finally the house and barn went too. The family lived in the ranch-style house at the end of our long gravel driveway, where my grandparents lived first, and where my brother lives now. Grandpa kept an eye on his son's operation from the picture window in the dining room. After the place was sold, we could still see the old farm every day. No more.

My brother sent me a series of heartbreaking photos. An electrical destroyed the barn and the old milk house on Friday night. Another link to our past, and to Wisconsin's heritage of family farm barns made of wood, lost.

5 comments:

frenchfryedfreud said...

Great little entry.
Pics are great.
Your brother on the tractor is very cool.

Laurie said...

Sherry, my gosh!! I'm so sorry for your loss. I know it's heartbreaking. I wish people could see and appreciate the wonder of our past.Now matter wjere you live I hate to see it go...Laurie, fullmoon923

willow said...

It's sad to see a bit of history go...and personal history at that. I love your blog. I'll be back to visit.

Teri C said...

How very sad. I love these old barns and did a big spread on them for our local newspaper. Too many barns have head in this direction. Wonderful nostalgic post.

Sharon said...

This is so sad, after four generations of use.