Barns are cool. I love old barns. A favorite memory is playing with my cousins in the hayloft of their barn, the smell of hay and weathered wood and dairy cattle, the ropes and levers and pulleys. I was fascinated with all of it.
Faithful readers know that I’ve posted photos and references to the Iowa Barn Tour which is held in the fall. There is a spring tour as well although it is limited to just a handful of Iowa counties. The tour features historic restored barns throughout the state, many on heritage farms that have been in families for generations.
I love family farms, cows and pigs and chickens and goats. When I was in middle school, I recall wanting to marry a farmer. It occurs to me now that a more progressive notion would have been a yearning to become a farmer myself. But I digress.
Today is the first day of spring and farmers will soon take to the fields. Before long, driving along the interstate or along rural country roads will reveal acres of freshly plowed topsoil and before long pops of green – corn and soybeans – will push through to grab some Iowa sunshine. Native Iowans will monitor the progress of crops throughout the growing season and proclaim admiration for clean fields and tsk-tsk those acres marred with intruding weeds and unwelcome volunteers.
Agriculture is a proud Iowa tradition although family farms have been in decline for many years. An unwelcome (and some might argue unsavory) addition to Iowa agriculture is the advent of company farms. I pity those farm families living in close proximity to the many turkey farms that have sprung up across the state in recent years (the odor emanating from these large, boxy, uninspiring, enclosed structures is appalling). There is also much concern regarding soil erosion and water pollution. The makeup of Iowa’s agricultural heritage is changing and faces some serious challenges.
Iowa’s farming roots – our family structures, like these barns, and our rural communities – have changed and waned somewhat over the years. Still, though, there is much to cherish and much to be proud of. Iowa is known for her good people, strong work ethic and friendly ways. ‘Progress’ cannot diminish what we hold dear. These sturdy old barns, lovingly cared for and restored, embody much of what is best about our state and the Midwest region. I love these old barns and I cherish our way of life here in America’s heartland.