Wednesday, January 29, 2020


The most common features that I notice along this stretch of highway are the barns, in all different condition - from missing entirely to quite modern.  The barns tell a story of economic change and land use as farmers adapt over time to changing circumstances.  The soil here is variable to say the least, and in many cases the farms are very marginal, so agriculture is going downhill and barns continue to disappear.

I think this is the most modern barn, built recently, I suspect to take advantage of government subsidies for solar power - a whole roof of solar panels!  But it never seems to be used much, although there have been a few horses in the field recently.

This is the nicest of the older barns, on this farm well-maintained with some new outbuildings.  One of the few barns with a fresh coat of paint!

This is a sheep farm, and we see them grazing in the pasture all summer long.

Another farm sitting on the side of a long drumlin.  No new coat of paint here, but it is well maintained.  This is a cattle farm; we seem them all summer long too.

And another cattle farm.  In this case the cattle are allowed outdoors, at least in the milder winter  weather we've been having this year.  They're all clustered around hay bales put out for them to munch on.

Haven't seen any evidence of cattle on these two farms, but they certainly had a good crop of hay last summer. 

There are no dairy farms here; the soil is not good enough to support the crops and pasture that would be needed.  At the other end of the spectrum, beef cattle take much less time commitment from the farmer.  I suspect that on all of the cattle farms here the farmers have some sort of off-farm job and the beef cattle are more like a money-draining hobby! 

As well a number of farms where there is still a barn standing are home to non-farm rural residents who just prefer to live in the country.  And some may be home to retired farmers who have quit farming, but never moved off the farm.  Often these are sad cases where maintenance goes downhill until the farmer reluctantly moves to town.  Tomorrow the rest of the spectrum down to the missing barns.


  1. It is sad to see the demise of farming but it is not for everyone. Driving past my grandfather's old farmhouse still looks the same but the fields are covered with Solar Panels.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the milder winter.

    It's about time.

  2. That lovely red barn is quite a pretty sight.

  3. Love the old barns, my Dad had a huge one, iron roof and sides, for the machinery and sacks of seeds and fertilisers. Then he built a bigger one for hay bales, guess there was a lot of help from nearby farmers, I can remember getting the old style oblong bales down to load on the trailer and do feeding out. Now, they are huge, plastic wrapped, and some need special trailers to load and roll them out. Hardy animals to be out there in the snow.

  4. I've always enjoyed your interest in barns and have taken notice of quite a few of them in our rural areas, thanks to you. I also really like that pretty red barn. :-)

  5. A nice variety of barns. That is a good observation about the different soil qualities. I was raised on a farm in Southern Iowa where the soil was a lot of clay. My dad never got the bumper crops that those who had flat river valley land.

  6. You can certainly read many things by checking out farm buildings.

  7. Another great post. It is so sad to see barns and old houses slowly deteriorating. When you know someone has worked so hard to have them in the past.

  8. Interesting to see the well maintained barns, there must be a good amount of off-farm income since it's doubtful if the soils and small farm acreage would provide enough income to paint a barn and install those new roofs. Unless they engage in value-added endeavors, none of the old 50-70 acre farms around here are economically viable, there has to be off-farm income as well.

  9. I love the idea of solar power, there are a few people here and there in NZ that have them on their house roofs, if I was going to build I'd do it.

  10. We are beginning to see more solar power farms popping up in our neighborhood down here in the Bayfield area. Quite often it's a bank of solar panels on a big concrete base out in a field near the barn. It's always a joy to see a well cared for and properly maintained barn. I've noticed the free standing solar banks rotate with the Sun and on overcast days they seem to just point straight up gathering whatever scattered light they can.