What I can see through the window | TheFencePost.com

What I can see through the window

The author's mother-in-law, Adena Isackson, pictured in her younger days.

When I stand and look through this old barn window, my imagination takes over. It is a small barn as barns go. But, it served its purpose for many long years. Its main section had four double stalls and a haymow overhead. There were two lean-to additions. One was for milk cow stanchions and the other for two more double horse stalls.

The barn could stable six teams. Any overflow had to make do with the adjoining corral. The only times the little barn would have been full would have been during such times as when the threshing crew came with their extra teams.

I can almost hear the stamping of those many hooves as flies pestered the big animals. I can smell the odor of fresh horse manure, the scent of sweat on the curried hides. I think I catch the faint whiff of mice scurrying in the grain bin where the oats used to give off their nut-like fragrance – the smell of oiled harness leather mingling with that of horse sweat absorbed through the years. The harnesses hung on the wooden arms extending from the top braces of each double stall. If you laid a hand on the leather after a days work, you would have found them damp with sweat. Few jobs those teams performed were easy.

If I breath deeply, will I catch the pungent odor of the ointment used to treat a harness gall on one of the horses’ shoulder? The little sided shelf that held this round, flat can of ointment and a currycomb or two, is still in place. It is empty, however, except for dust and cobwebs. No. Down in a corner is rusted bridle buckle. How long has it been there? Who put it there?

I listen in the hopes of catching the cooing of pigeons on the roof, the rattle of a halter chain. Is that a hen cackling as she leaves a hidden nest under a grain box? Do I see the old spotted cat lying on the hay near the mow door, nursing her kittens?

There are still swallow nests along the rafters, mud dobs made by wasps. Sparrows still take darting flights through the open top door. The initials carved by a boy’s first pocketknife on the door frame still remain.

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There is a couple of old harness collars hanging on the worn harness arms. They are split and their leather is hard as a rock. Most anything of value has long been taken from the barn. Now, all I see in the manger is an old pie tin my mother-in-law used to feed cats. That was long after the horses had gone and tractors had taken over the tasks they’d once performed.

I remember the stories I’ve heard about the old barn. Of the time when my husband’s grandmother decided it was time to use the shingles that had been purchased to shingle its roof. Her husband was busy with other jobs so she got a ladder, climbed up and set about doing the task. She got it done and it was many years before that roof leaked again.

My husband told of Sundays when the neighbors came to visit. What fun the children had playing hide and seek in the barn. How he and a buddy that came to stay overnight would sit in the open loft door, feet dangling, sharing ideas and plans. How, when the threshing crew came, those that had too far to travel home would take a blanket and sleep in the hayloft. One year there was a spell of wet weather at threshing time. The extra men slept in the barn for a good many days before the work could begin again.

He remembers the bull snakes that would crawl up the wall to reach the swallow nests. They normally did not kill bull snakes. But one day when a poor mother swallow was in a frenzy of fear and an old snake getting ever closer to devouring her babies, he met his end by a furious little boy armed with a hoe.

There was the night the saddle horse was left out in the cattle pen with 40 head of cattle. A storm came up and lightning struck the horse. The dead horse had a burnt streak from his ear down to his front hoof. No other stock was damaged. That was a night he should have been in the barn.

Years went by. There came a time when the barn was used only for storage – old lumber, hay bales and such. The farm cats took it as their domain. Even an owl nested there one year and raised its young. Now, the barn is bowed in the middle. The additions have tottered. All that is left are the memories and my imagination.

When I stand and look through this old barn window, my imagination takes over. It is a small barn as barns go. But, it served its purpose for many long years. Its main section had four double stalls and a haymow overhead. There were two lean-to additions. One was for milk cow stanchions and the other for two more double horse stalls.

The barn could stable six teams. Any overflow had to make do with the adjoining corral. The only times the little barn would have been full would have been during such times as when the threshing crew came with their extra teams.

I can almost hear the stamping of those many hooves as flies pestered the big animals. I can smell the odor of fresh horse manure, the scent of sweat on the curried hides. I think I catch the faint whiff of mice scurrying in the grain bin where the oats used to give off their nut-like fragrance – the smell of oiled harness leather mingling with that of horse sweat absorbed through the years. The harnesses hung on the wooden arms extending from the top braces of each double stall. If you laid a hand on the leather after a days work, you would have found them damp with sweat. Few jobs those teams performed were easy.

If I breath deeply, will I catch the pungent odor of the ointment used to treat a harness gall on one of the horses’ shoulder? The little sided shelf that held this round, flat can of ointment and a currycomb or two, is still in place. It is empty, however, except for dust and cobwebs. No. Down in a corner is rusted bridle buckle. How long has it been there? Who put it there?

I listen in the hopes of catching the cooing of pigeons on the roof, the rattle of a halter chain. Is that a hen cackling as she leaves a hidden nest under a grain box? Do I see the old spotted cat lying on the hay near the mow door, nursing her kittens?

There are still swallow nests along the rafters, mud dobs made by wasps. Sparrows still take darting flights through the open top door. The initials carved by a boy’s first pocketknife on the door frame still remain.

There is a couple of old harness collars hanging on the worn harness arms. They are split and their leather is hard as a rock. Most anything of value has long been taken from the barn. Now, all I see in the manger is an old pie tin my mother-in-law used to feed cats. That was long after the horses had gone and tractors had taken over the tasks they’d once performed.

I remember the stories I’ve heard about the old barn. Of the time when my husband’s grandmother decided it was time to use the shingles that had been purchased to shingle its roof. Her husband was busy with other jobs so she got a ladder, climbed up and set about doing the task. She got it done and it was many years before that roof leaked again.

My husband told of Sundays when the neighbors came to visit. What fun the children had playing hide and seek in the barn. How he and a buddy that came to stay overnight would sit in the open loft door, feet dangling, sharing ideas and plans. How, when the threshing crew came, those that had too far to travel home would take a blanket and sleep in the hayloft. One year there was a spell of wet weather at threshing time. The extra men slept in the barn for a good many days before the work could begin again.

He remembers the bull snakes that would crawl up the wall to reach the swallow nests. They normally did not kill bull snakes. But one day when a poor mother swallow was in a frenzy of fear and an old snake getting ever closer to devouring her babies, he met his end by a furious little boy armed with a hoe.

There was the night the saddle horse was left out in the cattle pen with 40 head of cattle. A storm came up and lightning struck the horse. The dead horse had a burnt streak from his ear down to his front hoof. No other stock was damaged. That was a night he should have been in the barn.

Years went by. There came a time when the barn was used only for storage – old lumber, hay bales and such. The farm cats took it as their domain. Even an owl nested there one year and raised its young. Now, the barn is bowed in the middle. The additions have tottered. All that is left are the memories and my imagination.

When I stand and look through this old barn window, my imagination takes over. It is a small barn as barns go. But, it served its purpose for many long years. Its main section had four double stalls and a haymow overhead. There were two lean-to additions. One was for milk cow stanchions and the other for two more double horse stalls.

The barn could stable six teams. Any overflow had to make do with the adjoining corral. The only times the little barn would have been full would have been during such times as when the threshing crew came with their extra teams.

I can almost hear the stamping of those many hooves as flies pestered the big animals. I can smell the odor of fresh horse manure, the scent of sweat on the curried hides. I think I catch the faint whiff of mice scurrying in the grain bin where the oats used to give off their nut-like fragrance – the smell of oiled harness leather mingling with that of horse sweat absorbed through the years. The harnesses hung on the wooden arms extending from the top braces of each double stall. If you laid a hand on the leather after a days work, you would have found them damp with sweat. Few jobs those teams performed were easy.

If I breath deeply, will I catch the pungent odor of the ointment used to treat a harness gall on one of the horses’ shoulder? The little sided shelf that held this round, flat can of ointment and a currycomb or two, is still in place. It is empty, however, except for dust and cobwebs. No. Down in a corner is rusted bridle buckle. How long has it been there? Who put it there?

I listen in the hopes of catching the cooing of pigeons on the roof, the rattle of a halter chain. Is that a hen cackling as she leaves a hidden nest under a grain box? Do I see the old spotted cat lying on the hay near the mow door, nursing her kittens?

There are still swallow nests along the rafters, mud dobs made by wasps. Sparrows still take darting flights through the open top door. The initials carved by a boy’s first pocketknife on the door frame still remain.

There is a couple of old harness collars hanging on the worn harness arms. They are split and their leather is hard as a rock. Most anything of value has long been taken from the barn. Now, all I see in the manger is an old pie tin my mother-in-law used to feed cats. That was long after the horses had gone and tractors had taken over the tasks they’d once performed.

I remember the stories I’ve heard about the old barn. Of the time when my husband’s grandmother decided it was time to use the shingles that had been purchased to shingle its roof. Her husband was busy with other jobs so she got a ladder, climbed up and set about doing the task. She got it done and it was many years before that roof leaked again.

My husband told of Sundays when the neighbors came to visit. What fun the children had playing hide and seek in the barn. How he and a buddy that came to stay overnight would sit in the open loft door, feet dangling, sharing ideas and plans. How, when the threshing crew came, those that had too far to travel home would take a blanket and sleep in the hayloft. One year there was a spell of wet weather at threshing time. The extra men slept in the barn for a good many days before the work could begin again.

He remembers the bull snakes that would crawl up the wall to reach the swallow nests. They normally did not kill bull snakes. But one day when a poor mother swallow was in a frenzy of fear and an old snake getting ever closer to devouring her babies, he met his end by a furious little boy armed with a hoe.

There was the night the saddle horse was left out in the cattle pen with 40 head of cattle. A storm came up and lightning struck the horse. The dead horse had a burnt streak from his ear down to his front hoof. No other stock was damaged. That was a night he should have been in the barn.

Years went by. There came a time when the barn was used only for storage – old lumber, hay bales and such. The farm cats took it as their domain. Even an owl nested there one year and raised its young. Now, the barn is bowed in the middle. The additions have tottered. All that is left are the memories and my imagination.