Ghosts of the Family Farm


When I drive around the countryside, I like to bring my camera to capture all of the wonders of nature...but I also love taking photographs of these majestic, forgotten relics. Standing along the edge of this field, I tried to imagine the summer that this old barn was built...I envision a swarm of neighbouring men, working like bees in the afternoon sun, strategically piling lime and field stones into a solid foundation...while others hammered boards and chiseled out posts and beams. I pictured a fleury of women, bustling around a farm kitchen preparing the noon meal for an army of barn builders, while the young girls offered the parched carpenters, dippers of cool water drawn fresh from the well.

Now beaten by time, this particular barn sits empty...a mere skeleton of a once grand structure, necessary for housing livestock, storing grains and hay and a place that many farm children learned the responsibility of chores and frolicked in the mow.

A tractor that at one time, was the workhorse of the farm, is now replaced by a more modern machine and left in the same field that it furrowed with pride...overgrown with grass and tangles of vetch.

Another barn meticulously crafted by calloused hands...now abandoned and sinking on it's sagging foundation. I imagine at one time, this once was a dusty barnyard with scratching hens, impatient hogs waiting to be slopped and the farmer's wife carefully wrapping freshly gathered eggs in her cotton apron.

Rays of sunlight now slip through weathered boards of this great structure and the soft cooing of many pigeons roosting, replace the echoes of bawling cattle from yesteryear.

...a driveshed for tools, carts and leather harness, polished with care...sits vacant now, shaded by overgrown shrubbery and trees.

Sometimes when I look at this barn deserted and alone, I can almost picture layers of ice being chipped away from frozen waterbowls and the frosty breath of cattle huddled together for warmth.

The next time you find yourself travelling through the countryside, take a minute to appreciate the old bank barns and silos, the fields bordered with treelines and the farm people of long ago, before they are gone...they worked tirelessly to etch out a living, to feed this country and to clear a path, through sweat and aching backs for their families and the agricultural producers of today.

...Amen!