Skip to main content

Old Barns and the Stories They Tell - Part 1

Linda lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia. She writes about nature, social justice, and Native America.

Photo courtesy of Casey Carden

Photo courtesy of Casey Carden

Old barn, what is it that draws me to you? Is it your shape, the color of your wood, or is it the mystery of what your chambers would tell me if you could speak? But you do speak, don’t you?

I’ve never been able to resist you. You whisper to me, calling me from your place among green pastures where cattle stand idle around you. I hear your soft voice drifting on the wind from your perch high on a hillside. Sometimes I feel you brush against me, nudging me to look a little deeper in the woods where you sit broken and forgotten. You have touched my soul and I think perhaps you are my teacher.

Photo courtesy of Casey Carden

Photo courtesy of Casey Carden

Good morning old barn! I almost missed you. You must be weary as your voice was barely audible. What’s the matter old barn? Have they forgotten you? Is that why the weeds are threatening to cover you up? You have served them well and you can be proud. You were one of the small ones. No skilled craftsman laid your logs; that is apparent. When the winds took your roof, they left you broken and exposed to the winds and rain, the snows of winter. How did they expect you to survive? Get some rest old barn. Your work is done. You are beautiful to me and I will not forget you.

Photo courtesy of Casey Carden

Photo courtesy of Casey Carden

What's your story old barn? You look quite peaceful sitting up on that hill today. It appears you have a fine new red jacket. They must have deemed you worthy as even your doors and windows are trimmed out with fresh white paint. You intrigue me old barn. You are just too quiet. Perhaps you’re not so old and have no story to tell. Have you worked during the course of your lifetime or have you had it easy? Your attire has masked the elements that would reveal your age. Are you so vain and arrogant that you will not speak to me today? Are you just a pretty face with no story to tell?

Photo courtesy of Casey Carden

Photo courtesy of Casey Carden

Oh my, old barn, you are majestic. Finding you here today takes me back to times forgotten. You must have been a busy barn back in the day. Your size tells me that you once (and maybe still) provided shelter for a large herd. Was it cattle or sheep? I wish that you would invite me in. I would love to see what made you tick? Are you still full of hardware? Do you still work storing hay and grain? I can almost smell the rich aroma of molasses infused grain and fresh cut hay. . Are you a dreamer’s barn, the place where kids hide from parents and dream of farming or, exploring space? What secrets do you hold? Can we be friends?

Photo courtesy of Casy Carden

Photo courtesy of Casy Carden

Old barn, you are a brave one aren't you? This is not the first storm you have weathered and by the strength of your stance, it will not be your last. When you called to me, I knew you were special. I knew because when I turned at the sound of your voice, I noticed the clouds. In spite of the heavy signs of more snow in the air, the sun broke through to shine upon you. I would worry about a weaker old barn in this weather but I know you are warm. I can tell. You are an old barn built from love. You have served your purpose well and you have been cared for lovingly. Closing my eyes, I can imagine the laughter of men, women, and children working together within your walls. I am curious though. Are you a packing shed? I do not sense that your have sheltered illness or the death of livestock. I think you have been a happy old barn and I will visit you again in the Spring. Sleep well old barn, sleep well.


Read Part 2 Of The Series

The barns of yesterday are pieces of a living history. They have a story to tell. Some will tell of hard times during drought or floods, disease, and war. They may also tell a happier story, of hardworking families doing it together when they weren’t sure they could. Many old barns witnessed the birth and death of farm animals, a daughter’s first kiss, or, an adolescent boy sneaking his first smoke. The attic floor of the old barn has sheltered many a dreamer, lost in visions of the improbable. Old barns are as diverse as people. No two are exactly alike. They come in many sizes, shapes, colors and textures; each with their own personality and purpose. If you take the time to sit with an old barn, they may share a story or two with you. I have learned that when they do, I learn more about myself than I do the barn. It is time well spent and one of my favorite hobbies.


My friend Casey Carden loves old barns too and is a much better photographer than me. I cannot publish this hub without thanking him for sharing his beautiful photographs for this project. Thanks Casey!

Scroll to Continue

Want to know more about barns?

  • The History Of One Old Barn In Washington State
    Come along for a lovely tour of an old barn and farmhouse in Western Washington. Built without nails, this classic example of a pole barn has been in use for over 150 years.
  • A Little Barn Raising About Barns
    Barns have a unique roof shape that was designed with a purpose in mind, The spacious interior opens the barn up to a multitude of uses. But the most distinctive feature of most farm barns is the red paint job.

© 2012 Linda Crist


Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on May 02, 2014:

Kenneth, I am touched by your message. I write for one reason - to touch hearts. And so, my desires of the heart have been fulfilled.

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on May 02, 2014:


I have this dream of just sleeping on a stack of fresh hay while the rain falls on the tin roof . . ..what a dream! I may get to experience this dream in the next life. Even the Bible says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart," and napping in a barn loft is definitely one of the desires of my heart.

And even today when I pass a barn while going to the doctor, I still have those inner-visions of napping on the hay while it rains.

Thanks to you, that dream was rekindled.

I am indebted to you.


Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on May 02, 2014:

Kenneth, I am so pleased that you found time to read this one. I just had a feeling you might connect with its content. Honestly, I don't think I can take credit for writing it. The barns told their own stories and I was just their vehicle. Like you, the barns of my youth were so much more than just barns. I loved everything about them, from the feel of the old wood to the scent of hay. I loved the way the sun would cast shadows through the cracks in the walls and the sound of rain on the tin roof. Such wonderful memories. Thank you again for the votes but more importantly, for your time and compliments. And of course, you may call me Linda. :-)

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on May 01, 2014:

Dear Linda, may I call you Linda?

This hub was absolutely fantastic! I loved every word of this story that spoke to my heart for I remember old barns and loved them like you do. I made the barns on the farms where daddy was working, everything my imagination needed them to be--castle, fort, mansion, outlaw hide-out and more.

You did a great job of making the barns a living creature. I loved that touch.

And gave you Votes Up and all of the way across.

You deserved it.

Please keep up the great work.

Love, Kenneth

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on August 21, 2013:

Happy Mike, thank you for visiting. It is my pleasure to share my love of old barns with you.

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on August 21, 2013:

Jackie, I am so happy to share this love of old barns with you. Family farms are becoming a thing of the past but i am also noticing a new trend call homesteading that gives me hope. Big barns may never make a come back but for those returning to a simpler life, there may still be a need for small barns. And they, will have stories to tell, I hope. Thanks for the compliment and for sharing with me.

HappyMikeWritter on August 21, 2013:

This is such an amazing article. I do not know much about old things and in country I live we do not have much old barns. I enjoyed reading your great article and I am so greatfull for being able explore new things throught your article :-)

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 21, 2013:

So beautiful I love old barns too and photographing them. I almost cry to see beautiful old barns starting to fall and we can do nothing about it but watch! Aren't old barns becoming extinct? Shouldn't someone do something? lol Great write, up and sharing.

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on February 26, 2013:

Torrilynn, I am always so happy to share this love of old barns with others. Thank you.

torrilynn on February 25, 2013:


i've always found old barns to be unique and to

hold a lot of history. thanks for this article.

voted up

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on February 25, 2013:

Hello wildove5 and welcome to Hubpages. We will get along well as I too love things that are old and tell stories. Thank you for the visit and for sharing the love of old barns and other things.

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on February 25, 2013:

Mary615, I an so happy you enjoyed this. I too grew up in the country and can still close my eyes and smell the wonderful organic scents of the wood and hay. Thank you for sharing and for the votes too.

wildove5 from Cumberland, R.I. on February 25, 2013:

I too love old barns, actually anything old. You have written about the things I wonder about when I sit to eat dinner at my old tin top table or rock in the 100 year old rocker in my living room. One can only imagine the stories they hold. Great read!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on February 25, 2013:

As one who grew up in the country, I really appreciated this Hub, and the sweet memories it brought back. We kids used to play in the barns back then...jumping on the hay!

Voted this UP, and will share and Pin.

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on December 12, 2012:

Debbie, you have described peaceful perfection! What a delightful picture you have painted with your words. Obviously, I am a lover of old barns and I share your sadness over their eventual demise. Thank you for the nice compliment.

Debbie Pinkston from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas on December 12, 2012:

Linda, I love the way you spoke to each barn in this Hub. I too love old barns and it saddens me to think that someday they will be a thing of the past. I have taken a few photos of barns here in NW Arkansas and have plans to take more photos in the spring. It's truly beautiful when the morning fog is rising, the cows are grazing nearby, and the barn sit silently watching it all.

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on October 30, 2012:

Thanks so much My Minds Eye53. I have been fascinated (or obsessed) with them since I was a kid. I'm so glad you liked the conversations I have with them. :-) Thanks fo reading them.

Maude Keating from Tennessee on October 30, 2012:

As you have seen in my Hub and the one I am about to do on barns, they come in just about any color. Most of the ones I saw growing up were red.

You were correct in assuming I would like your Barn Hub lrc7815 and now I am off to part two!

Voted up and beautiful and will share.

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on October 04, 2012:

dahoglund - I think there are varying theories on barns, depending on geography. The Pennsylvania Dutch barns are symbolically decorated. Barns here in the southeast were typically red or, white. Many were not painted at all. It's an interesting topic for more research. Thanks for reading!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on October 04, 2012:

You mentioned barns being different colors but I think the majority of barns in our part of the country were red. Some thought there were deep and meaningful reasons for this. However, I found in my miscellaneous reading that barns were red because back when they firstt were building them, somebody had a surplus of red paint and sold it cheap.

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on September 21, 2012:

Hi savingkathy! Thank you so much for sharing the love of barns with me. I appreciate your compliment as well. It is so much easier to write about things you love, isn't it? I'm really happy that you enjoyed this one.

Kathy Sima from Ontario, Canada on September 21, 2012:

This is a beautiful tribute! I love taking photos of old barns as well - they've always fascinated me. These photos are incredibly beautiful and your writing is so eloquent. This hub was a pleasure to read.

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on September 15, 2012:

Thank you for spending time with these old barns flashmakeit! I'll tell you a little secret. Casey is not a professional photographer but her sure has a photographer's eye. These old barns are all local to us. Casey keeps a camera with him and when he stumbles across a barn in the course of living, he snaps the shot. I'm so glad he shares them with me. I've loved them and collected images of them since I was a young girl. I'm happy that you enjoyed them.

flashmakeit from usa on September 15, 2012:

Those old historic barns are beautiful and mysterious! Casey Carden probably does a lot of traveling just to find those unique pictures. I enjoyed your hub!

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on August 27, 2012:

Hi breath2ravel! Thank you so much for the comments. I am so excited to find so many others who appreciate the beautfy of these old structures. You are very kind and I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment. I never take those "little things" for granted. They inspire me to be a better writer and, a better person. Thanks!

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on August 27, 2012:

Hello Happynoomernurse! Thank you so much for the comments and votes of support. Writing this hub was a real "moment" for me. It's wonderful to connect with a concept and then share it. But...the real reward is when you connect with another soul who shares your interest. I will share your comments with Casey too. He and my brother work together. When he heard how much I loved old barns, he started photographing them in his travels. All those barns are local and I have spent many an hour studying them and having those conversations. It makes me happy that someone else can enjoy them.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on August 27, 2012:

Great hub. I, too, have always been intrigued by old barns regardless of whether they have been well cared for or have been neglected.

Your thoughts about the barns in these pictures were very intriguing.

I also loved the photos that your friend, Casey Carden took and allowed you to publish. Each photo shared a mood as well as the barn itself.

Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting.

Heidi from Gulf Coast, USA on August 27, 2012:

I, too, am fascinated with old barns. I find myself with drawn breath, gazing at their structure, wondering of their history. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and your friends great pictures. Voted up & beautiful. :)

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on August 26, 2012:

I am very much looking forward to reading much of your work!

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on August 26, 2012: made me cry again. :-)

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on August 26, 2012:

ah yes, that little door that opens sometimes and words fall out in just the most perfect arrangment... that hand you mentioned... is your own...when this happens... it is the writer you are destined to be showing you that you can do this... the credit is all yours... and well deserved too!

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on August 26, 2012:

You guys ....Billy, prairie, Deborah, Davenmidtown, moonlake, forbcrin, and JTomp42....I am "walking in tall cotton" because of you. I feel like I am a member of an elite class - people who love old barns. This hub was a gift to me. An unseen hand/voice wrote it. It happens to me occasionally and brings me to my knees. Your comments have touched me deeply. Thank you all so very, very much.

Crin Forbes from Michigan on August 26, 2012:

Ha, ha, ha, it seems that we all like barns. Yes they have a certain mystic in their presence. It is too bad people abandon them. Some places they are taken down, piece by piece and the lumber is used as internal decoration in new houses.

In the Old Country they usually did not abandon the barns. Actually they rebuilt them every second generation or so, and for some reasons they always looked new.

I enjoy driving in the country and taking pictures of old barns. Some are abandoned, some are still used, although they seem to be ready to fall down with the next strong wind...

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on August 26, 2012:

lrc7815! an awesome hub that brings me back! Not exactly sure what it is about old barns but they are beautiful and almost alive with history. I could see this as Hub of The Day... great job and Thank you both for this hub!

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on August 26, 2012:

lrc7815! what an awesome hub. This has taken me down memory lane. There are so many things that attract me to old barns. Maybe I feel a bit closer to the earth and the past when I look at an old barn. It is like I want to pick up a plow and garden! Thank you and Casey for the great start to a now better morning!

moonlake from America on August 26, 2012:

Beautiful. I guess we all love old barns and hate to see them fall down. Great story with each barn. Voted Up. I have barns on my pinterest so I'm going to pin this.

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on August 26, 2012:

Err.... I linked to your hub too. :-)

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on August 26, 2012:

Thanks so much Deborah! I appreciate your expression and interest in sharing the hub.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on August 26, 2012:

I, too, love old barns and wonder about their stories. What gorgeous photos and a lovely hub. I will be sharing it.

Linda Crist (author) from Central Virginia on August 26, 2012:

Billy and Prairieprincess, you have made me cry. This was a special moment for me today and your comments just pushed me over the edge. I am so proud because you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing it. It is a good day! Thank you both for sharing this one. I am humbled.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on August 26, 2012:

IRC, this is so beautiful and poetic! Love it. When I was a kid, my Mom loved to look at old prairie building and would make me wonder about them, too. I think there is such a romance in old buildings and I too, wonder about their stories. I am pinning, sharing and voting up/more. Bravo!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 26, 2012:

I'm going to link this to my hub about old barns in Washington State....I am fascinated by old barns and take pictures of them often. Great job my friend; this is one of your best jobs of writing.....linking now!

Related Articles