Barn Photo Gallery – Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder

Sep 13 2020
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My old barn did not quite make it through our winter of 2018-2019 – its back fell in. (As most of you know, we were heart broken. This is where my aunt and mom grew up. This was my grandparents’ dairy barn.) It was built in 1929 and it was already many years too late to save the roof/hay mow when I came along and purchased my Grandparents’ farm in 2015. Living up on the Hubbard prairie in northern Minnesota I am very familiar with the suddenly empty space of a barn that was finally removed after it had fallen. (SO MANY.)

It was late August 2020 one dawn when the fog and the barn told me that it was time.

It is something I had been meaning to do and planning to do. I did not know until the moment came though that I had been waiting for it.

I brought extra memory cards knowing full well this would likely be my only chance to take these photos so I would be taking a lot of them.

It is something I never would have allowed anyone else to do because its just too dangerous out there. I went out to my old barn and up into her hay mow. I stuck to floor joists because the majority of the floor is rotted out. I tied my camera to my wrist and explored like I have a hundred times over the course of my childhood and my adult years.

I felt like I was 11 again and also, completely, all of my 34 years old.

I have already told everyone about it and received my scolding and reassured them I won’t be doing it again and also received their knowing looks because, I do what I want.

But they needn’t worry.

I was very careful and now that I’ve captured all of the hay mow I don’t plan on ever doing that again. I am so glad to have these photos though. Stepping up into the hay mow is absolutely breath taking.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

As you can probably imagine I’ve received a lot of advice about the barn.

The winner for the worst was probably that I should contact the Minnesota historical society because they would declare my barn a historical landmark and write me a check for whatever I needed to fix it – EASY!

(Besides the fact that they probably would NOT pay to restore it, if my barn was declared a historical landmark it would become PUBLIC property that anyone could visit any time they felt like it… and I would have to go through a committee before making any changes…to anything… OMG NIGHTMARE!)

The most ridiculous advice I received, “Oh just put an ad on Craig’s list: FREE BARN WOOD!”

And NO I did not entertain that thought even long enough to call my insurance company to figure out the kind of waiver I would have to have people sign so I wouldn’t be liable for their injury or death. Just the idea of what would probably be a few dozen total strangers drinking beer and running chainsaws in my yard also gives me nightmares!

In the end most of the advice (even the really BAD advice) does have something in common: They feel sad. They want to help. And I try not to get annoyed whenever even terrible advice comes from a good place.

But I have found some light along the frustration in all of this.

I have found myself going in the other direction entirely. I’ve found my heart turning to defense.

Someone else: You need to fix it like this! Right now!
Me: Besides the fact that you apparently forgot that I’m not a millionaire… My barn is perfect just as she is!

I’m so relieved to be standing in that truth. Because I really do love her just as she is.

Will people look at me when I’m 90 years old and tell me that I need to be fixed?

Of course not… Or at least I hope not!

In fact when I’m 90 years old I hope people will respect me enough to let me be. Even if I want something that’s not good for me. Even if I’m not living like they think I should.

(In fact that’s already how I demand people treat me now…)

Honestly though I don’t think people’s reactions to needing to “do something” in the face of the barn has anything to do with the building at all. The falling of all the old barns – the huge structures our great grandparents’ built that have stood our entire lives – it shakes our worlds.

It reminds us all a bit too much that nothing lasts forever.

It is a tangible, touchable thing of what time will do to everything… including us.

I am really relieved to have made my decision to let her be at least for now. Putting to rest the “urgency” of having to do anything has literally removed a weight from my shoulders.

Someday, decades from now, when the white finally colors all of my hair, maybe I will make that call to give her a proper viking funeral via burning…

maybe…

Or, maybe, when the first floor ceiling finally caves in, I may just have a bunch of black dirt dropped into the heart of her and plant an orchard…

maybe…

Endings are never easy to look at but I am honored to be here to capture this. Honored that I am her last witness and last owner. I am in aw of what could be accomplished so many years ago, she is still just awesome.

A photo gallery of an old barn in northern minnesota with a broken spine, fallen down roof, proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Comments

  1. Richard in Elizabethtown, NC
    September 13, 2020 at 10:17 am

    I feel your pain. I am 64 and I, along with my youngest brother, have purchased my mother’s parents small 12 acre estate in Southeast North Carolina. One of my uncles burnt down the small tobacco barn and the corn crib barn many years ago after Granddaddy and Grandmama had passed away. Now, the house that Grandaddy and his sons built in 1940 has got to go too. With the exception of the front bedroom and Living room, this house is 100% wood and it has been ravaged by termites and is slowly deteriorating. It can’t be lived in and when we get the old asbestos siding tiles removed, the local fire department has said that it would make a wonderful training fire for the firemen. I grew up in the house and on the land 2 weeks at a time after school let out for the summer and it will be so hard to see it go up in flames. But, it is a necessary process so that a new house can be built in it’s place. It won’t be the same but, it will be as close as possible. I’m sure that an orchard would be a very fitting thing for your barn’s footprint. Best wishes for your future.

    • September 14, 2020 at 9:54 am

      Richard, I think regardless on whether we can actually keep/save the structures, having the land is the most important thing. I often thing of the many times my grandparents’, mom, family, etc. walked the same paths a thousand times I now walk today. It is a truly awesome thing.

  2. Karen
    September 13, 2020 at 11:12 am

    You made the right decision in keeping her. She’s a large part of the threads of your family’s fabric, and is a reminder that even though we may not age perfectly we are still valuable and beautiful despite our flaws. Enjoy her beauty.

  3. MARGARET BRAMER
    September 13, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Yep… People will tell you, when you’re 90 how to fix yourself… I love that you are letting her just be!

  4. Trudy W Locke
    September 13, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Well said. Nothing is forever. We hold on and love for all the time we are given. Then comes the grace to let go.

    • September 14, 2020 at 9:51 am

      Grace is the perfect word Trudy, thank you 🙂

  5. Marilyn
    September 13, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    Man. I can see why you love that old barn.

  6. September 13, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Your photos are amazing, Tarah! I especially love the one with your feet in it. You could always take a piece (or a few pieces) of wood to mount one of your photos of the barn in your home….kind of like a memorial.

    • September 14, 2020 at 9:51 am

      That’s a lovely idea Ann, thank you!

  7. MADELINE l NEWTON
    September 13, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    i also hate to see them fall down …wish we all had the money to help put her back together …they are so beautiful to look at …just don’t see them anymore …i agree with making it into something to help keep her alive…grow lots of flowers inside of her …good luck just be careful going into her just let her collapse and then can go in safer…take care …have enjoyed her journey from the first pictures to now …

    • September 14, 2020 at 9:51 am

      Thank you Madeline, I too love the idea of growing plants inside of her to bring her to life in a whole new way.

  8. jackie norwood
    September 13, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    I am also sad……but my heart sings a sweet, soft sound because I know you love her so and I know all her memories vibrate within you…..

  9. September 13, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    Such wonderful photos and so bittersweet as well if you haven’t already you should watch the show Barnwood builders on TV and maybe the computer as well

    • September 14, 2020 at 9:49 am

      Beth I remember Barnwood Builders, I need to go check it out again! Thank you!

  10. Stephany Michel
    September 13, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    The biggest thing that drew me to your site when I discovered it this past year (besides your bubbly personality) was your love for your grandparent’s beautiful old farm and your excitement for having it and being able to renovate it. You are living my childhood dream of someday having the old farmstead I grew up on in Minnesota. We never farmed the land around it, it had long since been sold to neighboring farmers, but we sure had many hours of fun running through and playing in those corn fields.
    It was a beautiful old farmhouse sitting beside a pretty little lake with a grove of trees out back. There was a huge old barn with a big hayloft above and many of the old horse stalls still intact. I remember fondly the hours of fun playing in that barn, jumping from the loft down the old shoots into a pile of hay below. My favorite thing was to climb up the old wooden ladder attached to the inside walls of the loft to see the nests the birds had made on the big old beams it was attached to. I’m sure my parents would have had a heart attack if they had known.
    The farm had an old hog shed where we still raised the few pigs, an old chicken coop, and a big old building with a cement floor that my father used as a garage and work shed for his woodwork. At some point a huge fenced area with rows of big sheds housing old mink cages from when that sort of thing was still legal had been added. No longer useable but loads of fun to play in. I remember the hours of hand pumping water from the old well outside (Fondly now, not so much then) to haul water to the animals in the barn and other buildings. (The old house had long since been piped for running water. Though we did find an old outhouse out back from before that happened.)
    When I was 19 my parents sold that old farm to move to Arizona (to escape the cold winters) and I had to follow. Although the dessert is beautiful in its own way, I truly miss that old farm. I went back to visit my small farm town when in my 30’s and that big old barn was still standing there, well over a hundred years old at that point. I’m guessing it still is 25 years later.
    Your pictures and stories bring back fond memories. Reading back from your first stories of taking over your grandparent’s farm, your love for it has warmed my heart and I so enjoy sharing your stories of making it yours. I look forward to your posts each week and enjoy them so much.
    So at the end of these ramblinings of an old lady, I just want to thank you so much for sharing your journey and all your beautiful memories with us. 💕

    • September 14, 2020 at 9:57 am

      Stephany you just described my child hood here so closely! The barn was so often my refuge throughout my tween and teen years I think I will always have a unique relationship with it that no one else will simply out of gratefulness. It was an awesome place to play but, more than that for me, it was my safe place when I needed to be alone. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me!

  11. September 13, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    Very beautiful and yet so eerie!

    • September 14, 2020 at 9:49 am

      Thank you Suzanne and SO true! It was strangely creeper up there in a lovely kind of way lol

  12. liz
    September 14, 2020 at 5:20 am

    Your photos are amazing- you have captured both the beauty and sadness of this incredible structure -the keeper of a lifetime of memories. And yes, she is still lovely no matter her condition.

  13. Patty
    September 14, 2020 at 9:26 am

    My reaction to your photos is sadness, but also amazement at seeing new beginnings in the mushrooms (toadstools? sorry I don’t know the difference) growing in the rotting logs. To quote Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park – Life finds a way. Thanks for sharing your old barn with us virtually.

    • September 14, 2020 at 9:48 am

      Life always does find a way. Thanks so much for commenting!

  14. Carol L Dammer
    September 14, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Tarah thank you so very much for posting these pictues. A huge piece of family history in them. I hope it was alright that I shared them with family. You Rock!

    • September 14, 2020 at 11:59 am

      Of course Carol, so glad you enjoyed them and want to share them! I’m so glad I climbed up in there to get those pictures!

  15. Carolyn C Cowan
    September 15, 2020 at 7:44 am

    There is an old zen saying-“Barn burned down, now I can see the Moon.” I think that you have the right idea about what to “do” about the barn.Here is an example that nothing lasts forever and if we all live our lives knowing this, we are so much better for it and better off because we are prepared when we lose our looks, our homes, our loved ones and untimately, our lives.I have a favorite mug when that I got from my dead younger sister and only sibling.I treat it with care, but use it every day.When it cracks, as it someday will, I will say”Well, there it goes” and drink my coffee out of another mug.Things and edifices are not our loved ones, but some people treat them that way.I know a woman who just moved to her dream cottage down the road from me.Because she moved from a huge house six states away into a three room cottage, her house is chock full of things she can’t get rid of because they have a history and were her deceased family members at one time.Her things are holding her back from living a rich and full life right now in this moment.

    • September 15, 2020 at 8:55 am

      Carolyn you touched on something I really agree with and believe in myself. We found my Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding china all packed up for fifty years in the attic. Saved for “nice” so it was never seen nor used. It was so sad and tragic to me. There was so much they packed away and never used etc. I think our family members would hate to see us bogged down by their things. Life is so short to not use them or to let them hold us back from fully living.

  16. Koleta Scott
    September 15, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    I would do just what you did if I was a lot younger. Taking pictures of her. I love old barns but I never had one when I was young. Your is a majestic barn and I never saw one that big in my life. I live in Oklahoma and have seen many barns but never like yours. Your pictures of your barn are amazing.

    • September 15, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      Hi Koleta, my barn is HUGE even for up here in north country. The scope of her is kinda dazzling when I go up there I can’t believe they were able to make something like that 100 years ago!

  17. Marlous Bleazard
    September 17, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Awesome photos, wish i could of come back to Minnesota to see the barn before that happened!!

  18. November 22, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Great old barn photos. Thanks

  19. Annie Smith
    November 29, 2020 at 6:49 am

    Sad to see the old structures go, but with modern machinery those barns are obsolete. You could save the lower part with a new roof structure and use it as a workshop and garage, if the foundation is good.
    The high maintenance cost of wooden structures puts them beyond the financial means for the average person!
    What ever you do, take time to decide your next steps!!
    Good luck
    Annie

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