Monday, January 28, 2019

The Millstone Barn


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Marvin Millstone walked out to the barn.
He was 76, the barn was 127. They both had seen better days.

At one time Marvin farmed 160 acres of corn and alfalfa, and the barn was used extensively. Over the years, Marvin had sectioned off the land into ten acre parcels and sold them to hobby farmers. Marvin kept ten for himself. Most of the new tenants put animals on their property. Horses mainly. A few cows and plenty of chickens. No one planted corn.

The old barn was in need of repair. The ridge was beginning to sag and some of the windows were broken. Marvin didn't have the energy he once had and the barn had slipped from his priority list.

A city kid had offered to buy the the old barn. He wanted to dismantle it and incorporate the wood into a new home he was building. What was left he would use for various woodworking projects. Marvin told him he would think about it and that's why he had wandered out to the barn.

Except for a tractor and a few chickens, it was empty. He had raised a few hogs in his time. Several litters were born in the back pen. Two calves were born there as well. Marvin recalled the all-night shift he pulled as he helped deliver the second one. That cow grew up to give more milk than any he had ever owned.

Chickens still roamed the yard. Charley the rooster kept them all in line. They always had plenty of eggs and every spring, chicks would show up. Hatched in obscure nests hidden somewhere in the brush. Their coop was in the barn. It would have to be moved.

Hornets always built their nests under the south eves. They were easy pickin's for the swallows who did the same.

There were owls in the loft. They had been permanent residents since the day he and his wife bought the place fifty years ago. Generations had been raised in the box he installed after they arrived. They were great mousers as were Casper and Willy, the two barn cats that meandered around his feet. They too had caught their share over the years.

The loft now stood empty. Marvin recalled a time when it was packed with hay and straw for his animals. There was a time or two when he and his wife had taken a roll in that hay. In fact, their oldest son was conceived in that very loft.

Just maybe The old barn wasn't as empty as Marvin thought. There were still plenty of animals who lived in it and used it. The fond memories would never leave, and Marvin still liked to putter around in it. It was his refuge on those long winter days when the house seemed to get too small and feel like it was closing in on him.

Nope, the city kid would have to find himself another barn. This one wasn't for sale.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

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