Farming in Maine, when there were seven farmers on one road.
Not one farmer in three small Maine towns. Bigger, more production but way way fewer in number now. And less of the stuck in the middle of the road farmers that were weeded out. Dying on the vine and pushed to the wayside.
There is a resurgence in micro farming, locally sourced agriculture grow and raised close to home is a healthy sight to see.
But like farming without the eight row equipment and many zero place debt load, small farming in Maine takes frugal measures.
Regardless of the state of affairs on conventional, organic or whatever size spread for Maine farming, the buildings used to pull off the lifestyle.
In our travels it is always pleasurable to see a big main barn given TLC, a shot of love. Some on life support and it is a nip and tuck operation.
It’s all over happens. Too late for the new sills, the roof repair and general pulling the structure back into post and beam health that it had when hand built in the late 1800’s or earlier. The lack of a new roof covering makes everything melt into the ground.
Like a dinosaur going to its knees and never to get back up.
With the 8×8’s and old doors, the hand forged hardware to hang them recycled from the rubble. To fix another barn a few townships over in rural, sparsely populated Maine.
When you think of barn raising, where all the family, kids and old alike joined forces to put up a farm building.
The barn that was the cornerstone, crowned jewel of everything else to come. Even horses pulled those mortised beams into place to pin them securely.
And next week we set up shop with the same folks at your spread down the road a piece in Maine. Another farm setting hosting the food, the hard work and hopefully good weather holding out until voila. Another big barn in Maine dots the countryside.
Besides lack of maintenance, the high cost to insure, other factors put a cross hair on the life of a Maine barn.
Lack of use because like schools, everything is on one floor now. Those expansive hay lofts on a gambrel design or gable A-frame farm barn not used for loose or square bales anymore.
Big 1200 pounded that look like huge Rolo candies now squat around a recently hayed and laid to collect pasture field operation. Where no field hand muckles on to the twin twine strings to toss up on a passing hay wagon or farm truck flat body.
No hauling it back to the big Maine farm barn depository to store inside before black rain clouds open up to spoil the haying operation.
Or placement on a conveyor pointed skyward to hoist them higher for the rack and stack inside. Why no more?
Because a farm tractor with hay forks on the front or rear spears and lifts to deliver them to be placed in a roll. Wrapped in white plastic to preserve them until needed from the hay bank. Not put under cover of a big Maine farm barn.
So no fear of if their is moisture in the hay, then oh oh. Heating up and spontaneous combustion ignites and no more big, beautiful barn.
Taken out of the farm spread rotation. And when a barn fire happens, like domino formation, one by one the rest of the auxiliary structures go down.
Poof. The machine shed, well house, ice house, grainery, pig shed, horse hovel, chicken coop and the farm house too!
Just farm land left, maybe no wood lot either though on top of it all. When the grass fire turns everything into the scorched Earth like the rules of war makes it leave nothing for the enemy to benefit from down the road. Al that brought into the chaos. No more buildings or remains of them to resurrect.
So barns, unless lots of money to maintain them, insure them, can die of natural causes. If no one climbs up and cables off the roof sides to hold them, suck them back together securely. Or cross braces to keep them from swaying in the Northeast gales, those winds out of the Northwest too.
Some Maine farm barns re-purposed for conventions, weddings, family events and rented out to earn their keep.
To pay their way. Conversion to truck terminals is one use the barn I now care take and own was. Now used for storage of campers, antique cars, recreational boats and other motorized adult “toys”.
Do you have the same love of barns and does that one structure surrounded by other buildings make the picture complete? Many are gone, but not forgotten. And a few are maintained and still standing proudly.
Add animals, crops and farm activity and all the better reaction to the big awesome barn. The barn is the charm, casts the spell has the smell of grain, hay, animals that used those standing, boxed stalls and stanchions. Food is pretty special to have at least three times a day for most of us.
Having a steady supply of quality raise it yourself food stuffs keeps the body healthy. Raising it keeps you in shape and just breaking even making you feel grateful helps your overall attitude. The way you look and approach obstacles, challenges in life is key for what you glean from the years here on Earth. On what you pass on for the next generation that is valuable in life skills.
Lucky to own one. Peddle them too. Maine farm barns, come north and can show you a few classic ones.
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