Sunday, September 4, 2011

Barn Inspections

It’s been a great summer, although busy as usual. After a cold and rainy spring it turned hot and dry and then just as rain was urgently needed, it began to rain and has been on and off for the last month. So a good growing season as well.
It has also been a busy barn inspection season. People are mainly concerned about the well-being of their heritage barns. They see the historic value of these buildings but don’t really know how and where to start in repairing them or if it’s even worth doing it. I know when we need to make a decision about something, Lillian and I look for more information, so finding someone with the information you need to make a good decision is certainly worth the effort.
After I came back from Asia I had a number of barns to look at, the first at Fenelon Falls, Ontario, north east of Barrie. Here a young couple from the city had purchased a farm in Haliburton, home of hard scrabble farming. Still, the pioneer’s dreams were in the barn, well framed, added to with a beautiful field stone foundation. But hard farming times and a lack of concern by previous owners had left the barn in neglect yet it was still quite repairable and not yet ready for the demolitioner's hammer.
Over the summer I have inspected over a dozen barns, each one different from the other, having the individual framer’s mark notched into the frame. That’s when every barn reflected the land that surrounded it, and was built to fit that farmer’s needs. The land hasn’t changed much yet the ‘one size fits all’ thinking is certainly prevalent today, and with it the destruction of our agricultural heritage. I hope more people have the foresight to value the amazing agricultural history we have, and conserve some of those hand-built buildings, that still dot our landscape.

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