Farm Collector Blogs > First Things

Childhood Memories of Farm Outbuildings

And now, the sordid truth. As a kid, I was cruelly disadvantaged. Taking a tip from what is common practice today, I can blame my parent for this woeful state of affairs. My father worked in town. Consequently, I grew up safely within the city limits of a small town in Kansas — not on a farm, as did many of my classmates.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. My farm friends may have envied my close proximity to the municipal pool, the public library and the soda fountain. I, on the other hand, was in a constant fever of wistfulness for 4-H meetings, grange square dances and — be still my heart — farm outbuildings.

My childhood home had an attached garage. While the garage had its attractions — an interesting array of old hand drills and wood rasps, a World War II Army trunk, and an enormous deep freeze where my dad thought he could safely stash a quart of ice cream and I thought I could safely sneak the occasional scoop — it had virtually no aesthetic appeal. Nor did it offer any interest to a kid absolutely fascinated by barns, sheds and silos.

My one and only silo exploration, made at an age still measured in single digits, was met by mass excitement of a negative variety. A cluster of adults swarmed the structure’s bottom rung, imploring my immediate return to terra firma. The source of their panic was absolutely impossible to discern. It had been an amusing climb but there was nothing to see and, after a certain point, nowhere to go.

Trips to a friend’s farm home were far more fruitful. We romped through horse stalls and haymow; climbed ladders, swung on ropes as big around as my wrist. On shearing day, I’d get a chance to stomp wool in a bag I was pretty sure was 50 feet tall. My friend, I suspected then and know now, was immeasurably rich.

So when George Wanamaker sent an article delving into decades-old plans for farm outbuildings of every variety, it was a lock for this issue (see The Many Uses of Farm Buildings) of Farm Collector. The years fell away as I studied floor plans and imagined interiors. Take a close look; you may recognize one of these barns or sheds. Heck, your collection might even be housed in one: I know my memories are! FC