Sunday, September 27, 2009

Farms, future and past

The wind has switched around to the north and picked up speed. Leaves swirl around me like my own private whirlwind. It's been a weekend of recognizing that autumn is well and truly upon us; pulling out the air conditioners, closing up the polytunnel, bringing the onions inside.

There have been frustrations. Worst was learning that my parents refuse to even consider saving the barn. Their viewpoint is that they have no use for it (even though it houses the hens and turkeys!) so what does it matter if it collapses. My mother wants to burn it down! The most damning statement was 'if it was ten years ago maybe'. Ha! And just who was living there ten years, twenty years, even thirty years ago and never lifted a finger? Such bloody-minded complacency just staggers me. When I considered their track record I'm not so surprised. When we moved to the farm there were four sheds, a garage, and an outhouse that are all gone now. Soon, all that will be left is the farmhouse. Nobody who wants to buy a farm will look at a place with a house on a hill and no out-buildings. When the time comes it will be bought for the land and everything else will be bulldozed; the apple trees, lilacs, raspberry bushes, even the pines that have stood well over a century.

So why does this matter so much? The logical side is that, while it may not be cheaper, renovating the barn is the green choice. Emotionally, this is the heart of my childhood. I was never one of those girls who loved to be in the kitchen or playing with baby dolls. I was outside exploring, playing, getting bit, scraped and bruised. My roots aren't anchored in the house where I grew up, they're in the farm. My closest sister and I would swing open the door to the hayloft (the one that's lost the bottom hinge) and play with the kittens hidden in the straw bales. One year I shovelled out the entire barn, massive piles of manure. The paint that is left stops at that height because it's as high as I could reach.

The future I would wish for the farm? To be home to a young family of green weirdies, raising organic vegetables, a friendly sow called Cuddles with 13 piglets, a sweet-natured milk cow, a few daft sheep and lots of birds. It's a wonderful way to spend a childhood.


Thomas said...

Well don't let them burn it down. Reclaimed timber from barns is highly prized lumber. Google "barn timbers" and see. said...

It's a shame you can't get your parents to save the barn...I never lived on a farm but close by to quite a few and I was the sort of outdoorsy girl who spent many a day in a hayloft...I have seen too many ripped down for more modern houses over the years.. :-(