I was bringing Knut some supper out to the field the other night around sunset, and I couldn’t help but stop on the way home at this old barn that I see from my yard everyday. It’s an abandoned homestead. The house is gone, the barn should probably be torn down, and there’s a rusty swing set tucked into some overgrown landscape. The lighting was perfect, so even though I didn’t have my DSLR with, I just took a few pictures with my phone.
I’ve driven back there before, but since the driveway there doesn’t get mowed by any resident, it’s the best to see it in spring before the grass gets too tall to drive back there. It’s peaceful, though I’m pretty sure there’s some wild animals that live back here.
Places like this set off my imagination, like a living museum. How was this barn built? Was this yard filled with neighbors and they had a barn raising? How many animals lived and died here? Where are the descendants of this homestead now? I know my father-in-law owns this land now, but I’m pretty sure he bought it abandoned just for the farmland that came with it. Who was the last farmer to walk away from this barn? Was it a gradual or sudden failure of the farm? Did he just retire and have no one to leave it to?
One of my favorite things about living on a farm is the history of it. It’s like living on a museum. The fields Knut is planting still have family names attached to them from their original owners. The land remembers the generations. Stories are passed around from neighbor to neighbor. I don’t remember that ever happening when I lived in the city, or at least rarely.
There is no rush in the country to tear down and rebuild things. People just work around old things until it become absolutely necessary to tear them down. City people see the monetary value of antiques that are found in barns (like me) or see the beauty of the barn wood that would keep an Etsy store running for years. People who grew up here don’t see it that way. I’m not sure how they see it exactly. Either they want the eye sore gone, see a liability, or it has been such a part of the landscaping their whole lives that they see it like they see trees or fences.
History is beautiful, though, isn’t it? I want to have a picnic out here with the kids. I want to wonder with them about the history of the place, and then maybe we visit all the old farmers in the neighborhood and ask the stories about the place, and put it together in a notebook for a project this summer. It will be like we will being real life historians. There was a time when this abandoned lot was someone’s dream. I feel like that should be honored.
Do you all have a place like this, that just captures your imagination? I’d love to hear about it.