The road is long. In fact, it cannot be stopped. Sometimes, across open prairie, the road is obvious with lines and arrows; sometimes the road disappears into the bush or grass but it’s always there, unstoppable. The road possesses the souls of those who travel it in a particular way, not as a path or a conduit but as a Holy Mile, The One Mile, The Only Mile, Unending, Endurably Far, Replicating Itself to The Vanishing Point.
Yet, beside the road, the haunted souls of the long gone find solace and sanctuary in the tumbledowns, the neglected and abandoned places that once danced with the rhythms of lives but now succumb and succumb. Visit six lonesome places by clicking on the pic.
About 300 yards from the north boundary of Riding Mountain National Park, in a long-abandoned farm yard next to some tumbledown buildings, stands this beautiful old barn, striking a dominant pose against the backdrop of yellowed birch. Still retaining some of its red colouration – the traditional recipe for barn paint was cow’s blood, rust, lime, milk and linseed oil – and withstanding the northwesterlies with the help of a tall thick windbreak, the old place demonstrates classic massing and materials. The tiny and sparse windows meant a rather dark barn but they helped retain heat in winter. The barn tilts to the rear a little, the first sign of a future tumbledown.
I included this barn in a short video piece called Portals to the Past
UPDATE: SUMMER 2014
As often happens to heritage sites the octagonal silo is gone, torn down in late summer along with most of the old barn and the other outbuilding.
I have written about these rare, precious and beautiful relics from our prairie past elsewhere on this blog. A fine example of an octagonal grain silo stands in a farm yard just west of Hwy #5 a mile north of Carberry. Accompanying the silo are several other old farm buildings, all likely built around the same time, circa 1885-95. The silo has most of its original detailing including the little roof extending over the ascending openings, the small dormer for ventilation and a wooden pinnacle at the roofpoint. Well-built, this one stands relatively straight considering it has been buffeted by prevailing northwesterly winds for over a hundred years. Sharing the same yard with the silo are a couple of old barns of the same era. As you can see, one unusual barn has a square section topped with a small square tower. This is the opposite end of the building behind the silo. Still lived in, a beautiful buff brick two-storey house stands in the neatly mowed yard. Apparently none of these buildings has any heritage designation or protection although, due to their rarity, condition and site, the silo and barns merit recognition. Today they are heritage under duress. Without some form of acknowledgement, it is likely these buildings will all disappear from the prairie landscape, replaced with monoculture.
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Of course, cats prefer the old-fashioned milking method.