Thursday, October 13, 2011

Barn Stories

Larry Holstad emailed recently about the barn door photo in a recent posting, inserted again here.

I was looking at the barn door and remembered how we rode calves out the other door, against directions as I recall, and our reward was ringworm.

The more I thought about the door and the barn the more I had to laugh about the incident(s) he described, and all the memories about barns in general.  Ringworm was a downside to our rodeo fun, and "against directions" is a nice euphemism for the order we received but ignored.  But hey, we're young and these calves are tough, right?

When my girls were little more than toddlers their favorite bedtime story was the one I told of grabbing a cow's tail as she headed out the barn door after milking time.  A young cow was not suitable because she would be far too excitable and the ride was probably going to be out of control, and an older cow just wouldn't get up that much speed, but a cow at the proper age would free-wheel you all across the barnyard at speeds you didn't expect.  Presumably my siblings won't read this and report it to my Dad because he still won't like it today, the reason, of course, that I would not do it when he was anywhere nearby.

Sounds like a weird bedtime story but they didn't know farms and barns and it sure sounded exciting to them, and they were going to sleep with great fancies in their heads of becoming farmers, maybe . . .

The barn's haymow was always a place of intrigue, and I loved sitting in the haymow door when it was open because you could get a great view across the countryside.  And one time when we were chopping straw and blowing it into the mow, I couldn't help but decide I should jump from the haymow door into the wagon that had just pulled up below me.  It was probably about 20 feet down and since I would be landing on some really soft straw it would be no problem.

Wrong assumption - jumping into chopped straw is just like jumping into water.  It parts.  The difference is that there is a wagon bed about 3 feet below the surface, designed to stop you suddenly.  I was lucky to avoid a broken leg, or whiplash injury, although it did snap my neck pretty good.  Just stupid, I guess.

Richard Holstad commented some time ago about the sights, smells and sounds of the barnyard and he was pretty much right on.  Mostly the recollection is sweat with lots of frustration, cowshit, to use the vernacular at the request of Stan Arendts, the smell of hay, cows mooing or bellering,whatever their fancy at the moment, and a surprise kick from a cow that inevitably hit squarely on your knee and could put you down.  Pushing the calves out the door in the spring to watch them run and kick their heels with their newly found freedom was a fun job - herding them back in when they didn't want to go was something else.

Around the barnyard there's ups, there's downs.  And at graduation time Gerry Pike and I had the ultimate important conversation - about inviting a girlfriend out for the party, knowing that it was spring and the barnyard was in need of a good cleaning, so how embarrassing might that be, because whether you cleaned it or not, the air was always the strongest in the spring.

You know, if a person could just spend his time sitting on a chaise lounge in a screened in porch, with people you like to be around, away from the bugs and the elements at least, if not the odors, wouldn't life be great?  Do you think you'd miss the barn?

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