Beyond the Western
The Millstone Barn
Scott A. Gese

Image Sourse: Piqsels

An old man’s recollection of days gone by.

Beyond the Western

Marvin Millstone wandered out to the old wood barn.

He was 76, the barn was 127.

When Marvin was a younger man, He farmed 160 acres of corn and alfalfa. Back then the barn was used extensively. It was the storehouse of implements, animals and feed. Over the years, as Marvin grew older and began to slow down, the barn wasn’t used as extensively as in the past. In time it soon sat empty.

When Marvin turned seventy, he sectioned off the land into ten acre parcels and sold them to hobby farmers. He kept ten for himself. Most of the new owners put animals on their property. Horses mainly. A few cows and plenty of chickens. No one planted corn or alfalfa.

He and the old barn were showing their age. They were both a little weathered and their bones a little weak. They had both seen better days. The barn was in need of a few repairs. The ridge was beginning to sag and some of the glass was broken out of the windows.

Marvin didn’t have the energy he once had and the barn had slipped from his priority list.

A city kid stopped by one day and offered to buy the the old barn. He wanted to dismantle it and incorporate the wood into a new home he was building. What was left he would use for various woodworking projects. Marvin told him he would think about it. That’s why he had wandered out to the barn.

To think.

Except for his old John Deere tractor and a few chickens, it was empty. He had raised a few hogs in his time. Several litters were born in the back pen.

Two calves were born there as well. Marvin recalled the all-night shift he pulled as he helped deliver the second one. That cow must have been grateful for the extra hand. It grew up to give more milk than any he had ever owned.

Chickens still roamed the yard. Charley the rooster kept them all in line. They always laid plenty of eggs and every spring, chicks would show up. Hatched in obscure nests hidden somewhere in the brush. Their coop was in the barn. It would have to be moved.

Hornets always built their nests under the south eves. They were easy pickin’s for the swallows who did the same.

There were owls in the loft. They had been permanent residents since the day he and his wife bought the place fifty years ago. Generations had been raised in the box he installed after they arrived. They were great mousers as were Casper and Willy, the two current resident barn cats that meandered around his feet. They too had caught their share over the years.

The loft now stood empty. Marvin recalled a time when it was packed tight with hay and straw for his animals. There was a time or two when he and his wife had taken a roll in that hay. In fact, their oldest son was conceived in that very loft.

Marvin stood quiet and took in the moment. The faint smell of barnyard animals could still be found among the barns musty wood stalls and old leather saddles that hung on their rails.

Marvin loved that smell. It brought back old forgotten memories of days gone by.

Those old memories got him to thinking. “Maybe This old barn isn’t as empty as I thought. There were still plenty of critters who called it their home. Even if they were gone, the memories alone would fill this old barn.”

Marvin still liked to come out and putter around in it. It was his refuge on those long winter days when the house seemed to get too small and his thoughts took him back to his youth and those wide open fields of grain.

No, he wouldn’t give up this old barn full of memories. The city kid would have to find himself another barn. This one wasn’t for sale.

© Copyright 2020 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.