Pioneers of steel

For several years now we have worked away on the original Adsett farm in old Eramosa, attempting to retain as much family history as we can.

A major regret was the loss of the old barn that once housed cattle, chicken, hogs, and assorted livestock. In the upper level, the grainery was topped up annually with grain and the straw and hay mows bulged at the seams. That, of course, is history, but it is a history shared by settlers in this area. Unfortunately the structural integrity of the old barn had passed the point of no return.

Much of that old building, though, has been recycled. Used steel from the roof will make a sheep barn for a neighbour; many of the beams will be used for mantles in homes. The old barn boards will be turned into another decorative use. Some for a floor, some for furniture, and others to add to the rustic appeal of a structure missing a board – there was little waste.

What was left we have sifted through for personal reasons. The old hay fork will hang in the shed we were able to save. The ladder, with its round rungs, whittled to fit the holes on each side will make a nice addition to our rec room. Smaller chunks of beam will be useful there, too, as mantles on the hearth.

Once fairly well cleaned out, the barn’s walls had the appearance of an old castle. Window casings no longer contain wood so they look a little like turrets. It is quite charming, but unsafe, so it too will be dismantled.

This is where the chore of sorting will come in earnest. Already we have scavenged several large boulders, some cut limestone drawn from nearby quarries and hope to reuse that for a fireplace – some day.

As the excavators worked away and labored a bit under the load, the notion crossed our mind that the pioneers who had cleared this land had little for help. The hours to drag stones by stone boat, the days of using a broad axe to square up timbers, let alone the perilous heights settlers climbed to build a roof boggle the mind.

We know of few people who have been able to eliminate a landmark without getting choked up a little. Plenty of photographs were taken inside and outside of the old barn as it was erased.  To their credit, many farmers have kept up their barns – to the delight of people who appreciate history.

After this exercise we figure those old pioneers to have had steely determination, to have carved a farmstead out of the wilderness.