The Barn and its Inhabitants Take Center Stage on Family Farms
Ag Education Farm Books
by: Michelle Houts, author of BARN AT NIGHT
On any farm, it’s the epicenter of activity. The barn provides shelter for animals, storage for hay and straw, and it’s often where a farm family spends time together at the beginning or end of a long day.
If it sounds idyllic, it is, and it’s not.
Modern farm families are just like most families. There are hectic mornings, getting ready for school and work. There are afternoon sports, dance classes, piano lessons. Evenings are filled with homework and getting ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Busy or not, though, animals need care and attention at least twice a day. And even on large, modern farms, it’s most often the family who are outside before daylight and still out after sunset. The day starts and ends in the barn for many farm kids.
“Chores in the light are adventures at night” was one of the first lines I wrote in the text of Barn at Night. Because it’s true. Barn “chores” are called “chores” for a reason. It’s work. Five-gallon buckets are heavy. Moving manure is stinky. Hay bales seldom land where you think you’ve tossed them. And you’re doing it all with cats twirling around your boots, demanding attention.
But at night or in the predawn hours, when the moon lights the path from the house to the barn and the warm glow of yellow light seeps through the cracks in the siding and the small four-square window, the barn takes on a certain magical quality. Slide open the big barn doors, and it feels more like an adventure than a chore. Anything can happen.
In Barn at Night, a father and daughter share in that adventure as they care for livestock and pets with equal attention to comfort and well-being. For their efforts, there are countless rewards. Count them as you read, and if you get a chance, spend a little time in a barn. At night. You’ll be glad you did.
Michelle Houts writes fiction and nonfiction books for readers of all ages. She enjoys writing about rural life and nature from a restored one-room schoolhouse in Ohio. She’s the author of The Beef Princess of Practical County, Silent Swoop: An Owl, an Egg, and a Warm Shirt Pocket, and Barn at Night which publishes September 14th from Feeding Minds Press.