Friday, July 15, 2011

The Impermanence of Things

I could not believe it. Someone was tearing it down.



I had always meant to take a picture of it; I like old barns and this one had character, a history that almost shouted from its worn boards. Now it was being disassembled, all its skeletons exposed to the curious eye. I know it was a little saggy here and there and some beams that might not have been trustworthy--or maybe one of those companies that take down old barns to sell their wood to city folks for paneling made an offer that was too good to refuse?


I know wood buildings can't last forever. This one, with its faded Mail Pouch sign and rustic gate, was a sight for eyes jaded by more modern metal buildings. As more old barns get left behind--roofs blowing off, doors gapping open, weeds growing up around them--I feel like holding my breath, knowing that an era is passing and most of us are too busy to see it. The big wood barns that held tons of hay in their mows, housed cattle, pigs and horses at night, those barns are becoming a thing of the past, at least in this part of America. They are being replaced by round bales in the fields and metal equipment sheds. The death of small dairies hastened their demise; the milkhouses stand empty with broken windows or have been converted to other uses. A time is passing, and we are the witnesses.



So mourn with me for a little bit for the loss of this one barn. The owner I am sure was glad to see it go--he cleaned up the site very nicely as I saw yesterday when I passed by. Now I have one less landmark on my journeys into central West Virginia, one less reminder of how life was once on these quiet farms. I may well be the only one, but I will miss it.

18 comments:

Nance said...

Sue, we really are kindred spirits. (Did you read and love Anne of Green Gables?) I love old barns. I mourn and weep and cry when I see an old barn that has finally lost the battle and is sinking to its knees. The walls come down. The roof shifts forward and tips its hat. Like a donkey or a cow laying down on the ground. Better someone take the barn down than to let it collapse.

Granny Sue said...

You're right on both counts, Nance. We're definitely kindred spirits, and to take a barn down and re-use it is far better than letting it rot away. I'm like a child sometimes, a child who wants nothing to change, even though I know it has to.

Brighid said...

I love old barns, they've seen so many things, and given shelter. Repurposeing them is great, but I still mourn their passing. There are a few still standing here, and I tend to measure my travels by them, so when one takes it final bow its sad. It has been my plan to do a photo record of the barns on all the ranches we lived on.

Rowan said...

It's so sad to see these wonderful old buildings disappearing - an era is passing.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Lots of old barns in this part of England are being converted into houses - I don't know whether to cheeer or cry about that one. The impermanence of things is even more striking in the cities; I often notice "new" buildings being knocked down, then I realise they've been there for 40-odd years and I'm getting old.

Granny Sue said...

John, that's funny! And true.

Re-purposing the buildings, whether into homes or lumber for other projects, is better than letting them rot. I know times have moved beyond the small family farm with a few cows and other livestock, for the most part anyway. There are still a few hanging on. New equipment for haying has made the big old barns with their huge second-floor mows obsolete, and yet...there is something comforting about their presence on the land and it cheers my heart to see one well-maintained and still in use.

momalizzie said...

I'm with you, Susie. I hate seeing the old replaced by the new. We have many old barns around here, and for some reason, I find comfort in them whenever I see them, too. I love old farmhouses, also, and I've met many people who still farm here in our county, yet I know it's very expensive for them. It's not like it used to be at all. And it is sad to see it go...

Chip "Rocket Man" Allen said...

You won't be the only one. Even though I've never laid eyes on this particular barn there many abandoned buildings around my area and I always hate to see one collapsed or torn down.

Pat MacKenzie said...

There are lots of old barns here in Alberta. My friend and I are going on a road trip in August to take pictures of as many of them as we can. I've been taking pictures of the old-style wooden grain elevators too that are rapidly being replaced by gigantic poured cement structures. It seems that nothing is as constant as change and the older we get the more changes we see.

Granny Sue said...

What a great idea for a road trip, Pat. I want to do the same for the one-room schoolhouses and abandoned general stores and post offices. They are quickly rotting away. Someday people will want pictures of them.

Janet, said...

I, too, love old barns and I was sad when the one down the road from us collapsed last year. It still stands there in a rubble, they haven't did a thing to clear it away. I also love the old gate and fence in the second picture.

Nance said...

Janet, I came back to say :I love that gate next to the stone wall."

You beat me too it . . . but I still want to say "I love that gate!"

Nance said...

Janet, I came back to say :I love that gate next to the stone wall."

You beat me too it . . . but I still want to say "I love that gate!"

Tipper said...

I guess they would say progress. Seems sad though.

Mountainword said...

It's even worse when you have used or lived in the buildings that are collapsed or deteriorating. The farm I grew up on is virtually deserted now - the house is a shell of itself, the barn was blown down in a tornado, and the chickenhouse where I used to gather eggs has all but totally collapsed. I've photographed (and brought many souvenirs from) the old farm, but its not the same. It's as if a bit of myself has died, really.

Granny Sue said...

Jason, the last line of your comment is really touching. True words, those.

warren said...

I hate to see big old barns like that go too. My uncle had a gigantic old Mail Pouch barn and I loved exploring. It was amazing the stuff that we would find in his barn and out buildings. It was built in the 1880s I think. Amazing! Sorry to see this one go

Laura of said...

Oh... this tugs at my heartstrings. There is something so hauntingly remniscent about old barns and homes that conjures up so many questions and thoughts of by-gone times. How sad to see this. I am in love with that beautiful stone wall and gate, by the way. How many folks passed through it's entry and back out again? Bittersweet, Granny Sue

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