After reviewing my collection of barn pictures repeatedly the past few days, there's one that turns out to be my favourite. And it also turns out to be one where I have pictures through the seasons, so here it is.
One group of barns I have seen renovated is barns owned by rural non-farm owners. These might be weekenders, retirees from elsewhere, or people with deep roots in the community who have lived here for decades. I got to know several neighbours near our former home who renovated their barns, so I have a bit more familiarity with those than from just driving by.
These barns have some new siding and a new roof; they were just around the corner from us.
This is one of my favourite barns, in a spectacular setting down in the valley. It is simple being maintained by replacing boards as needed but I really like how they've painted the doors bright red.
Another friend around the corner uses his big old barn for storage, mainly of wood for his woodworking projects. That part on the left with windows and a pipe for his wood stove pipe is his woodworking shop. At some point he replaced the siding too.
When another friend was renovating their small barn to allow for barn dances, I got to have a close look inside. These old beams show the original adze marks.
Looking at the framework of timbers that make up a barn we are often unaware of the very strong mortise, tenon and peg joints that have enabled these barns to stand for 100 years. You can see the tenon on the beam to the left (the part where the beam has been cut down) disappearing into the mortise (or slot) in the upright post here, as well as the end of the peg used to secure the joint. A close look gives a little more meaning to 'post and beam' construction!
The end of this big beam, removed from another barn being rebuilt, shows the tenon that was created on the end of the beam where it fit into the mortise. I think I've learned a lot about timber frame construction just by taking a close look at two old barns being renovated.
This is my friend's barn with its new siding as well as a new interior floor for those barn dances. Well done I'd say for these rural non-farm residents saving at least a few of the old barns.
The new barns built around here in the past few years represent the opposite end of the spectrum from the old dilapidated barns I posted pictures of yesterday. So just to keep things in balance, here are some recent signs of investment on farms.
These are the barns at Hope Haven Farm, the terapeutic riding centre near our former home. If these buildings aren't new they are certainly well maintained, and the riding arena, the red roof of which you can see on the right, is quite new.
This is a small but brand new barn built not far away.
And this is a big new barn addition on a cattle farm. They've retained the older barn behind it.
The lighting is poor on this one, but it's a very nice new barn on a farm that sells meats locally.
Sometimes the new investment is a drive shed, which makes me think that they're getting into cash cropping and have a lot of equipment to store.
This is a huge new drive shed built a few miles to the south.
And sometimes fabric barns are increasingly popular, this one used as a riding arena I believe.
Others are used for hay storage. So there is some balance among farm buildings, new investment balancing the old barns that fall down or are dismantled. But the story is more complicated than this; I'll share some more examples tomorrow.
On our drive to Barrie last week I was struck by the number of barns that were starting to look dilapidated or where they were missing entirely. Coincidentally, this week's local newspaper had an article on an organization known as Ontario Barn Preservation, lamenting the disappearance of the century old original barns in southwestern Ontario. That got me thinking about barns.
This was in the middle of the fields where we saw the Sandhill Cranes. I suspect it's just a rural non-farm residence now and the barn is being neglected.
Down the sideroad was this old barn, which looked like it needed some maintenance.
I don't want to portray it all negatively. This was a nice barn still in use and being well cared for.
It even had a colourful barn quilt on the end.
So those 3 barns sent me back to look through the 200+ barn photos I've accumulated over the past 10 years. I'm pleased to say that there were relatively few that were looking dilapidated or about to fall down. But this was one near our old home that we watched slowly disintegrate over about 8 years.
At first glance this barn looks stable, but if you look closely through the gaps, mush of the back wall is missing. It;s gone now.
This one is obviously on its last legs.
Thjs barn is in the village of Heathcote.
And this one that I drove by for several years has now collapsed.
But I'm thankful to say that I have pictures of many more old barns that are being maintained, or have been restored. Over the next few days I'll share some of those and my thoughts about the future of barns in Ontario.
March is playing with us, as it always does. It's been snowing lightly but steadily for hours now, and the world outside is white again. The only saving grace is the forecast which says it will be up to 8 or 10°C tomorrow and the rest of the week.
We've gone from what I hoped was the last major snowfall early last week,
to watching all those remnant patches of snow disappear,
to waking up one morning to a very light drift of snow that disappeared by the end of the day. You'll have to take my word for it because I failed to get a picture.
And this morning it looks like we're back to winter. I'm waiting for those nice clear sunny days when the snow is entirely gone and I can get out for a ride! I wish March, with its ups and downs, would just go away!
Even our Heron/Crane/Ostrich is feeling the chill!
On our way back from Barrie we turned off the highway to check out the huge empty corn fields where we had seen the Sandhill Cranes last fall. We were wondering if they congregated in the spring like they do in the fall.
Looking across this huge corn field I was sure I spotted a small group of Sandhill Cranes in the distance, looking like dark dots even through binoculars.
Similarly in this photo, I was sure I was taking a picture of a pair of the birds in the distance. But no luck when I enlarged the pictures.
We drove some distance down the pothole-filled gravel road and then stopped beside another pair of birders. They pointed out these Swans on the other side of the road. We're looking at the west edge of the enormous Minesing Swamp here, one of the largest swamps in southern Ontario, which floods widely every spring.
We had seen the high water level earlier, where the highway crosses the Nottawsaga River. The actual river is over beyond those trees on the right.
These Tundra Swans have already started pairing up, though further south you can see fields of thousands of them. Tundra Swans mate for life.
With a heavily cropped photo, we did see a few Sandhill Cranes with a mixed flock of ducks and gulls in the far distance.
I was more surprised to spot a section of old pine stump fence! Decades ago when I was growing up in Woodstock, Ontario, I read the story of these fences after seeing some in the townships east of town. Archeologists have concluded that these represent former areas of White Pine forest, growing on sandy soils. White Pine are an early successional species if growing naturally, so they concluded that these represent in turn former areas of native settlement. Sandy soils would have been the easiest to clear for growing their staple crops of corn, beans and squash. Archeological finds have confirmed this, leaving me wondering if there was native settlement nearby. There are hardly any old pine stump fences left in Ontario now.
Meanwhile here on the home front a cold front went through late yesterday, leaving a dusting of that white stuff this morning. But it's been a bright sunny day today and it's virtually gone now.