Editor’s Note – This is the eighth in a series of stories authored by Robert Kroeger, who has painted 11 barns in Highland County and has plans to paint more. The first 11 paintings, usually framed with actual wood from the barn pictured, will be auctioned off April 2 when the Highland County Extension Support Committee holds its annual dinner fundraiser at the fairgrounds. Proceeds from five of the paintings will benefit the committee. Kroeger titled this story “Ahead of its Time.”
This wonderful barn, its siding tinted gray and white, is not the oldest in Highland County, but it’s one of the prettiest. Not yet a century old – built in 1922 – it still functions, not for dairy cows as it was used originally, but for beef cattle.
The current owners, Nancy and Ernest Hattan, were kind enough to dig up the barn’s history and to provide wood from the barn that now frames the painting.
Nancy told me that Georgiana Barrett, from whom they purchased the farm, related that her grandfather, James Arthur Barrett, constructed the barn. At the time it was one of the largest, if not the largest, barns in the county, something that provoked neighbors’ ire. But this farmer was ahead of his time.
Initially, they milked the cows by hand, but when electricity became available, her grandfather installed electric milking stanchions. These stanchions, still there today, flank each side with an aisle down the middle. He built cement feed bunks to nourish the cows as they were milked. Happy cows are productive ones, he must have figured. Furthermore, each stanchion had a water cup for the cows to drink. And, this farmer showing his engineering prowess, installed a water tank in the hay mow, allowing water to feed downward through a pipe line to the water cups.
But that’s not all: he mounted a track to the ceiling of the milking area so that a bucket could be used to remove manure from the barn out a doorway in the back of the barn. Manure was then dumped into a manure spreader, set outside. Indeed, Mr. Barrett was ahead of his time.
He also built ventilation ducts into the walls to move air continuously. And, he had a sense of esthetics, decorating the huge hay mow with diagonal boards. The old silo, showing some rust, adds another artistic element to the scene.
The Hattans plan to preserve this landmark, and this painting, framed in the barn’s own wood, will provide another memory.
For more information visit www.barnart.weebly.com.
Robert Kroeger is a former Cincinnati area dentist who has since ran in and organized marathons, took up the painting skills he first picked up from his commercial artist father, become a published author, and is a certified personal trainer that started the LifeNuts vitality program.