The North Wind blows a little colder across the marsh as rusted tin flutters slightly. Almost immediately after my last post of the old barn at Muddlety Creek the once majestic structure finally succumbed to the effects of decades of neglect leaving behind only the echoes of yesterday’s dreams.
The old barn has been a local landmark my entire life. It was also among the first photos I published when I decided to go professional with my photography. Since then it’s been my muse on many occasions. To me that old barn represented an entire culture. I can easily imagine an old sixties or seventies model truck backed up to opening of the barn while young men moved bales of hay and sacks of feed in or out of the barn. A family farm is also a family business. In my area that meant that you either trade in cattle, feed or both. The slaughterhouse was always local in those days and so was the butcher. The meat was raised, processed and sold locally. The barn was the very backbone of the economy. Even those who worked in the mining industry was dependent on the local farmers and ranchers. And there was often some overlap. A miner would work the mines while his family raised a few head of cattle. Some for himself and a few for the market. Mine closings and layoffs have always been a part of life in Appalachia. A small farm on the side is a way to hedge your bets in the down times.
Although I never personally worked in this barn every time I stopped by it the memories of my grandfather’s barn would come flooding back. When I was young I couldn’t tolerate the hay due to severe allergies. But as I grew out of that I spent quite a bit of time in barns. Even just passing an old barn on the highway allows me to relive the smell of grain and hay in the humid August sun. I can still see the rusted ox shoes and a single tree yoke in the corner behind a wooden barrel of grain. A metallic syringe type tool that was designed to help a cow swallow a pill. The barn was also an animal hospital. Today I work with computers and high technology. It’s frustrating when you have a major update trying to load and your whole system refuses to cooperate. But compared to trying to give an 800 pound animal a pill when it’s determined that you’re not going to get its mouth open it’s a breeze. My computer has never broken a single bone in my body. ( Neither did the cows but there was a few narrow escapes. )
Places where voices gather in love and friendship seem to hold those voices for a long time in my imagination. When I go to a place that feels familiar I can almost hear the indistinct conversations of people as they work. It’s more so with manual labor than office work. When you’re working with your hands a certain amount of banter is almost obligatory. It also involves a fair amount of teasing in most cases. Occupation of the mind distracts you from how tired you are or the new blisters you earn. In a good team the conversation can even carry a rhythm that helps the work flow. I’m using the term conversation loosely. It’s not really unusual for it to simply be an imitation of a quarterback yelling “hike” as a fifty pound bag of grain is hurled across the room.
That’s it for tonight friends. We’ll have a part 2 tomorrow night. In the meantime, Good night and be blessed throughout your days.
For those who have been following me on Facebook and know of the struggle content providers have to get circulation from big tech I’ve been recommending for people to adopt MeWe as a social media platform. One of the problems I’ve run into on MeWe is that people don’t know how to navigate the platform. So to help with that I’ve created a permanent page on my website as a basic Basic Beginner’s Guide To MeWe I’ve tried to anticipate all basic questions there and You can bookmark the page to have as a reference and if you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me. I do still have a day job and I help admin several pages on both platforms so replies might be a little slow but I will answer you.
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