Yay, I didn’t have to feel like a creeper stalking antique buildings!
The owner of this barn, we’ll call him Farmer Brown, was having a garage sale. I asked if I could take pictures and he stepped apart from his sale and filled my ear with all kinds of family history. His face lit with joy as he told me about his childhood on the farm. He even took me inside the barn for a tour.
The best part is he answered a couple questions I’ve had for a long time. Why are the double-doors clear up on the second or third stories and how did they get the loose hay way up there?
Farmer Brown told me how his family harvested the hay when he was a boy.
Here was how it was done:
Someone leads the donkey. The donkey is attached to a rope. That rope is connected through a series of pulleys to the grapple fork. The donkey provides the draft power required to hoist the hay. Farmer Brown said it was his job to lead the donkey and it was the only time of year their donkey worked. He joked and laughed about the animal working for his own food.
The pulley system allows you to drop the grapple fork into the wagon of hay and pulley a big fork full up to the top level of the barn, thus the double door. One person must set the fork and one person needs to be inside the barn to spread the hay out across the hay loft. The hay can be dropped anywhere in the middle, but someone must pack the hay and spread the hay to the outside edges of the barn.
Farmer Brown remembered playing in the hay, dropping forkfuls of hay down a hole in the corner of the flooring to the animals below, and the chickens hatching out their babies upstairs and when their chicks grew big enough they would bounce and fall down the steps to the barnyard below.
Am I the only one who wondered about those high double doors?
So much work for one task. No wonder someone invented the tractor.
Side note: I am always impressed with the rafter system they built in these old barns. No wonder some of them are still standing.