"The barn is the farmer's refuge, shade from the hot summer sun and shelter from the cold winter winds." The Dictionary for New Farmers, 1st edition
I have always loved barns. This affair began early in life with visits to my grandparents' farm which was located in northern Indiana. This part of Indiana is flat farm country with soil rich from thousands upon thousands of years of being prairie, wetland, and hardwood forest.
An early pioneer settler once said, "Lord love us! That Indiana soil is so rich that you hafta coat yer corn seed in axle grease or the plants'll burn themselves up shooting outta th' ground!" To this day, my father says that if the wind is just right and coming in from the east, he can smell that rich Indiana soil all the way in California where he lives today.
The barn on the farm was an old structure and had been built prior to my grandfather's purchase of the farm. Like all old barns, it held a mixture of various scents coming from years of hay storage, old wood, rich soil and livestock that blended into a fragrance that smelled wonderful to me. It is the smell that I remember most for, as I write this, I find I cannot even remember clearly how the structure actually looked.
When I was a teenager, about the time Little Debbie snacks first became available, I spent several summers working in Kentucky. My first job required that I swing a scythe all day to remove the weeds along, and under, horse fencing that is ubiquitous in and around Lexington, Kentucky. The cool morning mist that covered the hills would soon burn off with the hot Kentucky sun and the rise in humidity would cause even a pig to sweat.
The farm where I worked had an old wooden beam barn like the ones that used to dot the Kentucky farm country like orange tiger lilies along the roadside in mid-summer. It was here that I found respite from the heat of midday during my lunch break.
There was always a cool breeze that flowed through spaces between the old wooden planks of the barn siding that quickly helped cool and dry my sweat-soaked clothes. The mid-summer sun would send rays through the planks that lit up the dust motes like fireflies in the summer.
I met my wife after my freshman year at Ohio State. She and I worked as counselor on a horse farm that also housed a summer camp. It had several barns, one big enough to have square dances in. It was here that our romance began. It was also here that she willingly threw herself into my arms from the barn loft above.
My intentions were good, but I ashamedly admit that my normal coordination and strength were only slightly above Gumby's and I missed the catch. It was with horror akin to watching a failed catch at a Ringling Brothers circus trapeze act that I felt her slip through my arms and crash onto the floor so hard it badly sprained her ankle. Much to my chagrin, she hobbled around camp on crutches for the next few weeks.
Our present farm came with its own old barn. It is a bank barn and made with hewn beams and old timbers. It smells exactly like a barn should and the openings in the wood plank siding always let a cool summer breeze pass through. Over the years, countless livestock have used it for shelter, children's laughter still echos in its open spaces, and the sunlight still sends beams through the sparkling dust-motes.
My wife and I often wander in the barn's interior, enjoying the muted light. When our gaze is drawn to the loft, we smile and, after 45 years of marriage, it's nice to know that falling and being in love with each other, turns out to be no sprain at all.
Jeff and Kathy Crisler own a farm in Hocking County where they raise bees, berries and blisters. They are both retired and have two children and six grandchildren. Jeff wrote this column to be published in The Logan Daily News. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.