The big barn came down.

The day the big barn came down. A childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

Those that have been following for awhile will remember the story of my childhood farm.

It’s been awhile, so here’s a recap…

Funny how we have no control over some stories… except the choice to become involved in them. Life itself will dictate the next chapter.

Bike riding to my childhood farm with my son.

Part 1 HERE – Crossing my fingers hard, my son and I rode bikes and ended up at my childhood farm not that far away from me.

Demolition of my childhood farmhouse

Part 2 HERE – What we saw shocked us! But what was beyond this door blew me away…

One barn down, however the main one still remains. A story on salvaging wood and memories from my childhood farm.

Part 3 HERE – Spotting a small barn that just came down,  I scrambled to see if I could salvage a few boards for memory’s sake…

And now we continue with Part 4 (but not the end!) which is super bittersweet…

My brother gave me a call with some news that didn’t exactly excite me. Quite the opposite in fact. However I was grateful all the same.

“The big barn came down.”

Ugh. Something no one in my family ever wanted to hear.

Other smaller barns had come down previous to this, however this was the big (and final) kahuna. The structure that signified where and how we lived.

Apparently the main big barn came down 2 days ago and after permission was granted from the owners, my brother and I could go back and salvage a bit of memory wood.

Sigh… AND oh my gosh YES! As in, dig in your heels but run fast…

So all my plans for the next day changed in 1 second and I drove there the next morning with tools, gloves, rain gear, lunch… 

And Les was even more organized. It had been raining so he brought a tent, sawhorses, and even a fire pit if need be!

Goodness. Note to self: junk with this guy more often!

p.s. Les loves to collect as well. You can check out what I brought home from his past garage sale in this story.

My childhood farm while the big barn still stood.
So while my memory remembered this, I drove up to…

The day the big barn came down. A childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

… this.

The day the big barn came down. A childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

One big barn wood pile of rubble.

The day the big barn came down. A childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

The owners had plans to save and preserve the big barn into some kind of living quarters. However, it involved too much. So much rot over the years made it unstable and on and on it goes.

I suppose it’s easy for me to sit here and wish it could have stood forever. IF I don’t have to pay the bills in order to make it so of course.

The day the big barn came down. A childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

So, plan B was implemented and it came down.

In some ways I guess I wish I knew. But in others, maybe it was better I didn’t.

As I paced the piles of barn wood and concrete, small memories emerged.

The aqua walls from the milk house peeked through…

Did I ever tell you about the time I opened the lid on top of the milk tank and helped myself to fresh milk scooped out with two hands cupped together? So yummy, frothy, warm, fresh!

I was busted when dad walked in and caught me shovelling it into my milk covered face. This apparently was NOT the thing to do.

A beam that had some of our hayloft rope swing still attached…

We had the longest rope swing in the history of ever in the upstairs hayloft. The bales were piled high around the sides of the barn, leaving the centre bare shiplap. So as you can imagine, climbing high with the rope, then lifting off gave us quite the thrill!

The hayloft shiplap floor where we use to play for daaayyyysss with the barn kittens…

Kittens and kittens and more kittens. Our barn was well moused. When my mom would spot one (or several) inside the farmhouse, she’d fetch the broom and gently sweep them outside again. She couldn’t figure out how they got in! Hmmm… dunno mom. (fingers crossed) I also use to dress them up in doll clothes on occasion. Their fav place to visit was the fish tank.

Yes, I love me some cats to this day.

As you can imagine, the memories compiled one after the other buried inside the piles like a scavenger hunt.

Taking a big breath, I decided to bravely accept the fate, be grateful to be there and followed my smart brother who had already implemented a pretty sweet plan.

The day the big barn came down. A childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

We cleaned up a pathway from our vehicles and stacking piles to the barn so we wouldn’t walk on any nails, and set about scavenging, sorting out the good stuff from the junk to some that we took home ourselves.

I liked this plan. Rather than just take, we could help out too.

Which actually proved to be amazingly therapeutic.

(I have removed the house in the background for owner privacy purposes)

The day the big barn came down. A childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

I have never been a part of a major demolition before so I was actually really grateful to follow Les’ lead. Everything was twisted into one big mass of a puzzle, and it was integral to either cut our way through it or pull and yank apart one piece at a time until something could be carried out.

I honestly just thought a big bulldozer came in at this point, but nope! This part is done by hand. Interesting.

I was not focusing on anything at first other than sorting, but once I gathered my bearings, I started to dream up a little something I’d like to make and what I’d require.

Kitchen shelves came to mind.

I have dreamed of open kitchen shelves for way too long now but not only was I uncertain on where to land the kind of wood I envisioned, I kept talking myself out of it.

It’s not right for the house…. it could hurt resale… blah blah blah.

During Kim Klassen’s writing course (I am still working on), I hit a segment about making decisions. And boy oh boy did I need that in my life right then!

Make a decision, trust yourself, implement, then support your decision, whether mistakes happen or not. Our ‘monkey brain’ is always nattering at us to pull back, stay safe! But listen to that brain fuss and moan and you won’t achieve your braver dreams.

The day the big barn came down. A childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

Thank-you Kim and thank-you wood, because now the real gutsy work begins.

I brought home what I reasoned to be the right amount plus some other random pieces, and made my way home after a long, very wet day of sorting in the rain.

We actually went back the next day to help a little more. I ended up with a beat up old metal fan as well, however that day was mainly focused on reminiscing and helping sort piles for the owner, working side by side with someone that also knew all the fabulous memories the barn and our family held tightly onto.

It was a wonderful, wonderful two days of poking around, and chatting about memories.

We profusely thanked the owners for their hospitality towards us, and then it was time to let this chapter close… 

My salvaged wood. Part of a childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

… while starting a new one.

My salvaged wood. Part of a childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

This was my barn wood haul. And while it may not look like much, when you don’t have room for one extra board in your storage, it’s lots! 🙂

My salvaged wood. Part of a childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

These are the boards that will become shelves, doubled up side by side. They are perfect and exactly like I had envisioned! Beefy, rugged, and best of all, from my childhood farm.

I had to laugh. At first I told my brother there’s NO WAY I could ever move if I used this wood for this house!

But I’m happy to say, I have enough wood to make another set of shelves in a new place, so I’m going to go for it regardless. 

Plus, as Les did pointed out, “You can always take it with you!”

How right you are.

My salvaged wood. Part of a childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

I don’t have plans for all of it yet. I just grabbed what I felt would be worthy of my simple kind of projects.

My salvaged wood. Part of a childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

This piece was a total win! Check out those old hooks!

My salvaged wood. Part of a childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

And so was one long board with 2 very long hooks of sorts. This is the board that has rope attached to it we feel is part of our hayloft swing!

It’s 12 feet long and I just left it like that for now. Once I stage it somewhere, I can at that point cut it if desired.

But my heart of hearts says to be somewhat versatile with things I collect that mean something these days. I’m not in my forever home (I don’t think?) so one step at a time.

My salvaged wood. Part of a childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood. My salvaged wood. Part of a childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

Les insisted I take a wired light my dad likely hacked together himself and I found a switch. Teamed up, they ought to make an interesting focal point!


I wish I could have brought home more shingles, however most were broken, so at least I have a small memory pile to either display or make something with.

My salvaged wood. Part of a childhood farm story on salvaging memories and barn wood.

All these barn boards may appear as dirty lumber to some, however to me, this wood raised our family on a 40 acre setting, housed my horses, and fed us to the point of never being hungry.

This is us.

So I silently said a thank-you to my dad for working so hard in this big beautiful barn that I now get to hold onto in a small way.


Above is a little video clip of the live process that went into our days there.

Music: Memories by

And if you know me well…

To be continued.


What would you do with the wood, knowing what it is?


Visit the entire Childhood Farm Series HERE

Facebook Pinterest Twitter Instagram RSS

Subscribe to projects!

Categories: Junk Drawer

20 thoughts on “The big barn came down.

  1. I experienced a similar situation after our family auctioned off one of our homesteads. We had a certain number of days to go to the homestead and gather up any old equipment or items that we wanted to keep. I was absolutely shocked when we drove up the road and I could not see the top of the big beautiful red barn! I shouted to my sister, “Where’s the barn”? “Why would the new owner want to tear down that big beautiful horse barn?” We found out that just two days prior to our trip there, a tornado had gone through the area and had torn the top level of that barn right off, along with doing damage to some neighboring farms (like carrying a tractor completely off their farm and depositing it elsewhere). We were able to salvage some of the old red siding,some vintage horse tack, and other small items. I will never forget the SHOCK, as it had always been an exceptionally beautiful barn.

  2. Oh, the sigh you made… I was fine until I started the video. Memories can bring tears but you were able to have something tangible from it. Love the red board with the hook! Save those nails. My Granny and Papa’s house in mid-Alabama was used for the fire dept to practice on. BUT I was able to get her music, she was a piano teacher, her gold hairpin, dishes, and a little cabinet that Papa made for her…I still see the house in my mind and the memories but I have these few items to touch. Can’t. wait to see what you create

    • Haha, I think I should maybe change that music in the video!

      And oh my goodness… so glad you have those mementos from Granny and Papa! That is quite a creative way to clear a building away, isn’t it?!

  3. The memories. . . oh the memories! Thank you so much for sharing. I remember so many times watching your Dad milk the cows. Oh the rope swing! The hay bales, smell of the horse, filling the milk jug, riding the motor bike around the barn, singing to the calves, sitting on the wagon while the boys stacked the bales, eating lunch that your Mom made out on the grass by the barn, washing the horse that was tied up to the barn, climbing up the conveyor, watching your Dad help a cow give birth . . .the list goes on and on and on. Apparently today is a day of remembering. Thank you again my friend! ox

    • Oh how I LOVE hearing your own dream downloads! They always shine a light on something I have overlooked!

      Funny how the tire swing save by my Dad with us pinned against the rope tops the list for me… haha

      We have a very rich history together. Looking forward to more!

  4. What an emotional day! You held up better than I would have. I’m drooling over all that beautiful barn wood. I would make some type of piece of furniture with it – maybe a cupboard or something, that way it could become an heirloom piece that will live on forever. I also think the open shelving is a wonderful idea. I’m sure you’ll find the perfect project to make. I can hardly wait to see what you come up with!!!

  5. Hi Donna, I am from the state of Iowa in the US. When my husband and I go on our little country drives. I just love to see all the old barns and is jealous that I don’t have one. Country weddings are a thing in our state. And seeing people that have these old barns and are in good shape, they are converting them into wedding/reception venues. I would love to do that but unfortunately that thing called money I just don’t have enough of. Lol. But as a kid I remember playing in some of those barns and swinging from those ropes. Fun fun fun! Enjoy those memories. Cant wait to see what you make from your treasures.

    • Love the barn wedding trend!

      I’ve always dreamed of having my own barn again too. What a great workshop it could make! Or open it wide up and that can be an outdoor gazebo of sorts when sitting around outside.

      Dreams are free at least, right? 😀

  6. Those old red barns are the best! I’m not sure if all your wood is thick and beefy, if not I would make a simple red cupboard. But the beefy pieces will make great shelves or a mantle.
    My parents only ever lived in one house, purchased just months before I was born. A few years ago it was torn down to make room for a highway expansion. There is nothing left and no signs a house ever sat there. Sad.

    • Yeah, most of what was salvageable was pretty beefy stuff. There weren’t many thin planks in reasonable enough shape.

      That’s sad about the disappearing house. At least you know, and can honour the memory.

      There was barely any red wood although the barn was red. Not sure what happened to it!

  7. Your story has me in tears. My childhood barn was my refuge from the world. I haven’t thought about that precious place in a long time. She was built around 1875, and still stands strong today. I don’t know what I’d do if she were to fall. I am so glad you were able to bring home some memories.

    • 1875… wow! It must be a beauty! I’d be taking a boatload of pictures of it… just in case.

      I kinda wished I had known about the family barn coming down for that very reason. Just a nice, full out photo shoot.

      I will just cherish the ones I do have, that is for certain.

  8. A labor of love Donna! Possibilities and projects. This wood is you through and through. Which means you will be creating and creating gives us hours of enjoyment and ideas to ponder. Great!

    • I’ll do my best to do something fun with at least some of it, Joanne! Reclaimed wood has become my thrift store replacement it appears. I love how it can just become anything desired. And reused over and over!

      No wonder I have reached hoard status… it never disappears… 😀

  9. O how remember going back to Michigan after they moved from the family farm. A big chemical company had bought all the farms around and as I drove down the familiar road there was absolutely nothing left standing in that whole square mile. Nothing. I tried to estimate where our home would have been, and on that cold gray day parked the car and wept. So much just gone. The price of progress.

    I think a cabinet or bookcase would be great with your wood. Those hooks are priceless.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *