week we spend hours in the barn cutting and stacking firewood. During
those hours, my mind wanders and I think about the life of our barn.
Here are my thoughts.
Life of Our Barn
barn was built in 1830. Itís a 2-story barn, measuring 75í
x 35í. It must have been quite an undertaking to raise our big
barn in 1830. In its heyday, the barn was the hub of activity on a
working farm. The farm was known as Shore Acres because of its
proximity to the southwest shore of Lake Ontario. It was mainly a
fruit farm. Acres of orchards stretched over to and along the
lakeshore. In the early 1900ís, Dr. Gilbert D. Forbes was the
owner of the farm. His hired workers ran the farm. The workers and
their families lived in the farmhouse - the house we live in today.
Dr. Forbes lived in town where he had his home and office. When Dr.
Forbes traveled out to oversee his farm, I wish he had taken a
picture of the barn. The only picture I have is the one I have in my
imagination. I imagine the barn was a fortress protecting every
animal and every thing gathered within.
we bought the property in 1977, the old barn was an abandoned
building. It had been neglected for a long time, and it looked like
it would never be useful again. Lucky for the barn, my husband came
along and envisioned a second life for the barn. Over the course of
some years, Bob made repairs and added improvements. He patched a
place where a fire damaged an upper wall and roof. He built a third
floor. Bob installed 4 doors and a window. He rebuilt walls and
poured a concrete floor. Gradually, Bob brought the barn back to
its new life, the barn served many purposes. We parked our van and a
truck in it. There was room to store a Porsche for a friend. The barn
was a venue for graduation and holiday parties. Bob set up a
workshop/man-cave in his barn. There were refrigerators with cold
drinks and apples. Thanksgiving turkeys were cooked (1
bird burned) in
the barn. Steaks and burgers were grilled there. It was, and still
is, a hub for cutting and storing firewood.
my brother-in-law, Steven, came to live with us starting on
Thanksgiving of 1992, the barn was his shelter during the day. Steven
spent his days tinkering in our barnís workshop. Iím not
sure what tinkering is; doesnít seem like anything productive,
but Steven was a great one for tinkering. He finally left our
property on the 4th of July in 1995. I donít remember where he
went next. I do remember he said he missed tinkering in our barnís
workshop. The barn was a godsend for Steven during a difficult period
of his life.
before Stevenís time, horses took shelter in the barn. There is
evidence in the barnís framework to show where horse stalls
once stood. The names, ďPБTĒ
and ďDANIELĒ can still be seen stenciled onto boards over
the stalls area. Were ďPБTĒ and ďDANIELĒ
names of horses on the farm? It seems likely. Seeing the names of
horses makes the barnís history come alive. I can just imagine
PБT and DANIEL standing in their stalls waiting to be fed or taken out
to be of service on the farm.
decades of time, the barn has become an enabler for Bobís
obsession with collecting things. ďBob-the-pack-ratĒ
takes in all manner of assorted items, including a kitchen sink. The
barnís weathered walls hide a multitude of messy build-up.
There are a few one-way paths and open spaces for firewood and tools
and equipment. Most of the barn is filled with a random collection of
rusted stuff, broken stuff, inherited stuff, antique stuff, the good,
the bad, and the ugly stuff. There is no space to park vehicles; no
room for parties. Even the third floor is full. A giant barn has its
limits when itís used as a receptacle for an obsession with
defense of my husband, he sees the mess and wants to clean up, but
itís an overwhelming task and not an easy thing for him to
tackle. Also to Bobís credit, he has always kept about 1/10 of
the first floor uncluttered. That area is dedicated to cutting and
storing firewood. Our firewood is like gold to us. It enables us to
live comfortably and affordably in our big old drafty house. There is
nothing like the comfort from a wood fire in our furnace. The barn is
our silent partner for working with firewood; providing us with a
protected place for working year-round.
barn got a facelift in 2020 when we put on a red metal roof. A new
overhead door was installed in 2021. Even with those improvements,
the barn is showing its age, but we are not giving up on it. Bob and
I intend to live here for as long as possible and wring out every bit
of life the barn has left to give us. The people who labored to build
our barn in 1830 would be glad to see the barn is still standing and
valued. It has stood the test of time through blizzards and gale
force winds off the lake.
future life of our barn is uncertain. It needs expensive repairs. I
hope the barn outlives us and another Bob comes along and takes the
barn under his wing. Meanwhile, we will maintain the barn to give it
the dignity it deserves. The spirit of PБT and DANIEL dwell
tall, dear old barn. Let your red roof be a beacon for travelers
along the lakeshore. Stand with pride. You
hold a history of nearly 200 years of service and memories.
author's name in
of the message we
won't know where to send it.)