The Old Barn


I stand here, leaning and broken
Barely visible, for the weeds and fallen trees
But once, I stood here, majestically
Watching over my farm and my family, with ease
My paint is now dull and faded
But was once a brilliant, bright red
And the weathervane that stood on my gabled roof
Now lays on the ground, instead

I was built in the late 1800’s
Although I ain’t exactly sure of the date
But folks were moving in from all directions
The Indian territory not yet even a state
People were looking for a new beginning
And Oklahoma was a good place to start
With land that stretched into the horizon
Meeting the sunsets like fine works of art

First, the ground was cleared where they’d put me
With a plow and grader that was worked by mules
Back then, things were done with muscle and sweat
A time before tractors and power tools
My owner made his way to the sawmill
He ordered the posts and beams for my frame
A barn raisin’, back then, was a social affair
So, from all over the county, folks came

My walls and rafters went up quickly
Thanks to the help from our neighborly friends
They set my beams from north to south
Then secured ’em tight to both ends
The siding went on a little slower
They took their time and did things right
And finally, the tin was fastened down to my roof
To seal everything up, tight

The new farm was all hustle and bustle
We were stocked with cattle, pigs and sheep
The fields were plowed and planted
For what one sows, shall he also reap
That spring, the rain was plentiful
The grass grew tall and thick
The wheat grew lush and deep, dark green
And the cotton already need picked

They built a small home on a hillside
In the evenings, laughter came from inside
Their lives were simple and happy
This young farmer and his pretty new bride
Their first son came in late July
And another came the next June
All in our world seemed so perfect now
But tragedy would rear its head, soon

The oldest son’s name was Samuel
He was a bit of a sickly sort
A bad bout of pneumonia hit him real hard
And his young, little life was cut short
His father was heartbroken, but stoic
His poor mother could not be consoled
We buried him out beneath a magnolia tree
On a gray, rainy day in the cold

The laughter was drowned out by silence
I’d watch his mother go sit next to his stone
My owner would work through the sunset
He dealt with his pain, all alone
She left fresh cut flowers, every morning
He’d sneak a bottle of rye into my loft at night
They hardly ever even spoke, it seemed
Unless it was to argue and fight

But time heals all wounds, they say
My farm and family came slowly back to life
Occasionally, you could hear laughter again
They began to act like husband and wife
The missus’ even again became pregnant
And gave birth to a precious baby girl
She had bright blue eyes and golden hair
She brought happiness back to our world

The children were both able and healthy
The son grew to be tall and strong
The daughter was both smart and funny
They had a good sense of right and wrong
The son finished school, and started farming
The daughter married a ranchers son
My owners were proud of the children they’d raised
They were pleased with the job they’d done

The son built a house across the hayfield
The old man just kinda stepped aside
The boy was doing a helluva job
His father was filled with great pride
His crops grew tall and healthy
And he fetched top dollar for his beef But things were about to get tough, in our country
And it’d be a stretch ‘fore we got some relief

First, was the disaster on Wall Street
Although, we couldn’t really tell
But then the rain stopped falling
And our crops went straight to hell
We ran our cows over to the wheat pasture
Our hay meadow just a field of dust
We prayed everyday for just a drop of rain
In God, we put all of our trust

But the rain just never came
And the wind took away the topsoil
The top of the earth would bear no fruit
But beneath it, we’re told, there was oil
Some men first approached my owner
But in short order, he sent them away
This land would stay in the family
It’d be farmed by his grandchildren, someday

Months passed by with no moisture
We’d see a dust storm, or two, everyday
The oilmen came back for a visit
This time, he’d hear what they had to say
His heart was breaking with his decision
But he now knew what he must do
He took the money from the oilmen
And sold the land and, I guess, me too

My family moved away quickly
I now just sat out here, all alone
The winds swept down through my alleys
I’d lost the only life that I’d known
No cattle in my pens or hay in my loft
I had no purpose anymore, I could see
Oh, I missed my family so much
I often wondered if they also missed me

The oilmen came and went, daily
There were new wells all over my land
Apparently, we sat on a deep pool of crude
And they were getting rich, just as they planned
They pumped oil from my fields for decades
‘Til the wells had all been sucked dry
Then I was left to rot, alone in my field
Before I knew it, twenty years had gone by

The Dust Bowl, as they called it, had ended
And my fields were now green and tall
A young family came and bought up the land
But they paid me no mind, at all
I watched as they leveled a new piece of ground
Some trucks and workers came in
They built a great big concrete slab
Brought in loads of lumber and tin

The new barn went up so quickly
It just snapped together like a child’s game
It had no character or personality
The workers left just as fast as they came
The outside was made out of sheet metal
Wrapped around a frame made from white pine
The structure seemed so light and weak
Not heavy and strong, like mine

I assume, now, that my job is finished
Like my first owner, I should just step aside
My time in the sun, had come and gone
But I’ll look back on my life, with pride
For countless years, I’ve stood here
But now I’m old and past my prime
Just an aging, rotting old shell of a barn
A relic, from another time300498_1976480175167_5806822_n

2 thoughts on “The Old Barn”

  1. Wow! I love this. As a farm girl I have seen so many of these old barns. And you’re right, the modern ones don’t compare at all.
    Thanks Stoney!!

  2. What a beautiful story and written so well. You actually gave the barn a heart and feelings. I shared with my step mum, she grew up on a farm and by time she was finished she had tears in her eyes and she never cries.

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