Playing in the Barn

Growing up on a farm in North Beaver Creek, my brothers and I can testify that the barn was not just a work place. It was great for hide-and-seek too, especially if you were daring enough either to find a hole and cover yourself with hay, or climb the rafters to a dark spot above eye level. Of course, when we got that Daisy lever-action BB-gun, the barn became a hunting ground flush with sparrows and pigeons. Later, Dad mounted a basketball backboard-with-hoop so the haymow became our gymnasium – with the bouncing ball dropping winter’s frost in our faces. That doesn’t even count the times we used the mow floor for wrestling, that is, settling a score away from Mom or Dad’s watchful eyes.

Haymow of Garven's barn 1970s

But we didn’t invent the barn use for mischief! Our uncle Sid has confessed – well, not much confession, he just tells the stories.

Sid and his brothers used to play tag in the barn – without touching the floor! On ground level where the cattle were kept, ten cows on each side of a main aisle, these young fellows crawled over, jumped onto, and swung themselves around posts and over wood frames that separated the cows. Not only did they run around the milk cows, but over them as well. I can imagine a few nervous cows! (And all this time, Emil and Gina thought they were busy doing their chores.)

In the spring, birds would nest high up in the haymow of the barn. Then these same guys would climb up posts and across beams to reach the high spots where they would find pigeons, sparrows, and other birds to carry down. These hatchlings were given to the cats to eat. (Don’t cringe too much: these birds could make a big mess on the hay that cattle would be eating.)

If this haymow escapade was carried out in the spring, there wasn’t much hay left in the mow from winter feeding. So any falls would have been a long, long way down. Sid said, “Mom would always say, ‘Have you boys been in the rafters again?'” [His daughter Judy adds, “It was probably spoken in Norwegian.”] I’ll bet their mother knew the answer without a word in reply.

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