At first, the big barn past the granary was a huge mysterious empty red building to a boy of seven, but it eventually became a dreamer’s playground and a giant five-story-high castle where adventure waited just beyond the door of imagination. Mom said the barn was the biggest in the county when Grandpa built it around 1903.
The barn was a three-part structure: the animal barn, the big hay barn, and the sheep shed on the north end. The sheep shed looked like an add-on because it was accessible only through one open end in the barnyard and a small door cut through the wall at the bottom of the hayloft. Just outside the sheep shed opening in the barnyard, there was a pump with a tin cup and a pail for water for priming the pump.
In the south end of the animal part there were two box stalls where riding horses had been kept. Tackle hung on the opposite wall by the oat bin. Huge sliding doors on the east and west walls opened so wagon loads of hay and straw could be brought in to throw to the lofts above. A small open doorway led into the cattle section where Grandpa had four stalls for the big workhorses.
I could sense the ghosts of cows standing placidly with their necks trapped in the wooden stanchions as I walked along the long rows where the milk cows would have waited for Grandpa to come with his one-legged stool and milk pail. At the end of the row, a small waist-high door swung into the bottom of the large hayloft in the big part of the barn. This door was covered when there was hay in the barn.
Great hand-hewn beams framed the haylofts. The floor of the barn could accommodate a tractor and wagonload of hay, which would be lifted by a rope with large hooks from a trolley on a track high in the top of the barn. With hardly any imagination at all, that rope also became a jungle vine for “Tarzan” to swing across the beams and drop into the hay.