Last year during this course, I had written a story about my childhood home around age 12 in a piece about the century old four-square house that I had lived in. In fact we lived in that house for many years and it is still in our family as my nephew and my brother take care of it now. There is also an old barn on the land which has been used for years. Again my brother and nephew take care of it and use it as they need. It does not house any animals today as my family is taking some breaks from the very demanding farming life. Nevertheless that barn also dwells in my mind as an important place from my childhood years. Therefore, I decided to write about the old red barn and I have no idea how old it really is. It could be newer than I think too as I wonder about the tall cement and brick walls. So, here is my latest piece about the old barn at my childhood home:
The Old Red Barn
Empty now but erect and three stories high stands the old red barn;
Settled downhill from the quiet road on our small Wisconsin farm.
It once housed horses, cows, pigs, and bales of hay
With barn cats darting and scampering as they hunt and play.
Wild birds lived there too on the highly vaulted ceiling beams
Where they built nests for their young to keep them safe and unseen.
On the first floor were assortment of pens and animal stalls
While the upper level was wide open from floor to ceiling and wall to wall.
Although it was a place for work where animals were fed and watered,
We kids found time to enjoy the day as we climbed up the wooden ladder
Leading into the huge hay mow where bales were stacked so tightly.
We’d climb the tallest pile just to see how high we could be.
Sometimes we would hear tiny mews sounding from under
The loose hay and discover a newborn kitten litter.
It almost never failed that somewhere on that little farm
That every year a new batch of kittens was born.
When the tall barn attic was not quite so full of hay
Then there was more room for us kids to enjoy and play.
One game we played was our own version of racquetball
As we tried to hit tennis balls against the back barn wall.
At other times we tried building long, curving tunnels
By re-arranging and piling the hay bales.
Oh what fun we had creeping, crawling, and slithering through!
And oh how dark it was in there and rather spooky too.
I sometimes climbed up to a high “window” opening
Just to look across the green pasture to the distant tree line.
One a warm summer day, I would also wander up there all alone.
Sometimes it was a quiet place to hide and still be safe at home.