Old Photo Wednesday: Memories of the Duck barns

old barns

Our barns

These are “our barns” – the barns I grew up exploring in various states of disrepair. But they didn’t start out as ours. In fact they were probably built by the Coll family, who were the first pioneer owners of this land on Lot 93 TRN in Howard Township, Kent County, on the edge of Morpeth Ontario. My great-great grandfather, William J. Duck, lived with the Coll relatives after his mother died. He worked and later purchased the farm.

At some point in the early 1900s or late 1800s, these barns were apparently moved by horse team from a location farther back the lane on the farm up to this position.

It is interesting to see the barns in such well-kept shape. For example, seeing the roof on the silo and the split-rail fence surrounding the barnyard. You may be interested to read my post about the silo here. You might also enjoy the mixed-media painting I made, which includes a photo transfer of this photo.

I have so many memories of these barns, the main one being that I was terrified of the barns when I was a child. I was phobic that the barns would burn down, which may have had something to do with watching the barn burn at my great aunt’s house in early 1980s. But I was also afraid of fire in general. When I was young, we watched the Little House on the Prairie show about the blind school burning down, and for some reason I believed that fire created metal bars on windows that prevented people from getting out of burning buildings. I also heard that damp hay could combust on its own. And, I was afraid of falling through holes in the old hay that was stored in the upstairs of the barn.

My older brother and his friends made up some disturbing stories about one of the rooms in the barn – about an old lady in a rocking chair, knitting. I don’t think that room even had a solid floor. Anyway, I was completely terrified of the barns until I was an older teen and braved up to exploring them.

One year, I wanted to make a scarecrow, and Mom sent me to the barn to get some hay to use to stuff it. I was so petrified that I walked all the way up the ramp to the doorway, but was so overcome that I became physically ill and ran trembling home!

When I was very young, we still used the barns for some farm uses. I remember my dad and grandfather depositing shelled soybeans into the barn’s basement. I remember climbing in the pile of soybeans, and enjoying the cool smooth beans as they slipped around under my boots (though getting them in my boots was not so comfortable!).

Later, I spotted treasures in the barns: an antique round table, tossed in the hay. A sliding trap door that could cover the ladder that lead from the upper level of the left barn down to the silo level. One time, I found an old pair of spectacles in a case in a cupboard in the lower right barn.

The barns did finally burn down in the early 2000s, after I left home.

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