Plus Side of 60: If cows could talk

The stately old barn on the Hatt Farm on Hot Springs Road has taken a few cruel hits in the recent wind storms. Many more boards are missing from its north end. How much longer will it be able to withstand the elements?

The bold, straight lines and silver gray weathered boards give it charm and traditional beauty. Artists are drawn to sketch and paint it. Tourists often stop to photograph the barn with its dazzling mountain backdrop. Couples have even posed there for their wedding pictures

I wondered how many years it had stood through flood, wind, rain and hot sun. Wes Johnson, an Agassiz native son and former mayor, informed me that he had helped build the barn in 1939 or 40 when, as a young man, he worked for Aitkens Brothers, a Chilliwack company. The McRae family owned the farm then. The barn style is called “hip roof” with a truss frame, hay loft and stanchions for dairy cattle. The trusses were hand winched in place by the work crew. Special features are the gable windows and high hay loft doors.

Old barns call up nostalgia for the days when they served as adventure sites for farm kids. Shouting “Geronimo” and jumping from the loft into the loosely stacked hay was great sport.

Cats with new batches of kittens, mooing cows munching contentedly, chickens scratching in the yard and the farm dog romping about completed the idyllic picture. Just recall the children’s books reminiscent of Old McDonald’s Farm and all the stories in which the animals talked and had distinct personalities.

Somehow the new state-of-the-art scientific milking palaces just don’t have the same rustic charm. There is no way you can jump into the tightly packed plastic wrapped bales of today.

Like prairie grain elevators, barns are becoming an endangered species. Get out your sketch pad or digital camera and hurry down Hot Springs Road to capture this piece of history for your memory bank.

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