Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Great Barn Debate

If I were to ask you what color barns are... what would you say? 

In the grand scheme of things, this is an inane question and a ridiculous topic of debate... but sometimes its these little things that will empower us most.  And indeed, I am feeling mighty righteous right about now. 

Driving toward my Grandmother's birthday party this week, my mom and I discussed some of the goings on in the family - one of which is my cousin's newest acquisition to his new-found farm lifestyle... goats.  (I love, love, love a goat... but more on that later).  Tyler lives on my grandparents' farm - a large, sprawling space full of great views, spaces and memories.  I asked my mom where the goats were being housed and she responded with a simple, "near the shed."  Now to me, the shed is the place the machinery lives - in this case a huge lean-to type galvanized structure that houses trucks and used to be home to tractor and combine alike.  Not ideal goat-raising area.  I was confused.  In clarifying questioning, Mom and I hashed out where exactly the pens are... and the real issue was born.  The pens are near the barn - the only structure still standing from my grandfather's true farming days, the structure that housed animals and hay, the place my mother used to gather eggs and where a cow once stepped on her bare foot.  Yeah, that place.  The barn. 

The concept is simple:  barns are for animals, sheds are for machinery.  The building in question is red.  As are barns.  It seems pretty obvious to me.  Yet my mother, a self-declared barn expert (as of last night), is adamant that this is malarkey.  Barns aren't red - they're white.   And so the great barn debate was born. 

I'm not a girl who gets competitive about anything that matters - but give me an inane topic to debate - I'm on it!!  Based on this fact, I also tend to lose a lot.  A lot, a lot.  So now that I've actually found some ground to stand on - shoot.  The madre has no idea what she's stepping into.  

It started small - Q and A in the car as my dad tried his best to stay out of it.  Active pointing and flailing to barns as we passed them along the interstate.  Add a few family members who grew up in farms (who all immediately said red, by the way) to the mix and some much needed rubbing it in and the spark is fanned.  In a word - it is ON. 

To be fair to the madre and her misguided barn opinions... there are quite a few white barns out there.  Not the least of which on the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, a place I've spent many a summer at camp and on family trips.   It's gorgeous and houses loads of good memories for me.

But let's get real.  :)  The vast majority of barns are red.  There's just no question about it.  Even a simple Google search using just the word 'barn' yields hundreds of barn images.  Nearly all of them are red.
A red barn is iconic - it is an all-American image of the farm lifestyle -  a beacon of bright color in a sea of neutrals.  If you look for the classic Fischer Price toy, fully stocked with an array of livestock, fences, troughs, farmer and tractor - oh yeah, and the awesome ability to moo when you open the door (seriously, awesome) - it's going to be red. 

Drive down a country road and you may or may not see barns, but odds are if you do, they'll look a delightful shade of cheery, cherry red.
{1, 2, 3}

Ask a child to draw one or a baker to bake one... more often than not,  it's gonna be red. 

At the end of the day, I suppose it's a bit of a moot point.  After all, the barns you do see often have no color whatsoever.   They are relics of another life.  They're weathered and a bit grizzled, but like a well-worn soul, they have so much character,  history, and experiences.  They are filled with the silence of time. 

But even after taking all of this into consideration, I stand behind my declaration.  After the friends have parted, the party has been cleared and the barn has been raised, before the animals are loaded in and the farm day is set into motion, it is only appropriate to take a deep breath... and paint that barn red. 

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