Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Barn Hunting Buddies

Everyone loves cute animal photos, right? Fair warning: this post contains copious amounts of them. If you're one of the few soulless, cold-hearted people in the world who despise photos of cute animals, please leave this blog right now and don't ever return.

This lovely little barn SW of Radville is home to several creatures including goats and kitties,
 I have mentioned in a previous blog post, The Dangers of Barn Hunting that encounters with animals are par for the course in a barn hunter's fieldwork. And while I've had to deal with slithery snakes and sinister spiders (as well as the promise of revolting rodents), I've also had my fair share of adorable animal encounters. There have been so many, in fact, that it's become dangerous in its own right. For these encounters sometimes eat up large amounts of a barn hunter's most precious resource: time.

When I drive into a farm yard when I'm doing a survey, there is always the risk of cute animals to distract me from my true, no-nonsense purpose of barn hunting. For instance, last week while Stacy and I were out surveying (we should have been measuring, but I had forgotten the scale at home, just another barn hunting blunder), we stopped in at one yard with a tiny barn and a host of animals. Upon opening the door of my dad's truck (the Le Sabre was out of commission), three excited dogs came to greet us, and two of them actually jumped right into the truck and sat on my lap. Needless to say, the usual ten minute stop stretched out to about a half hour at that farm. At another farm on a different day, I left my vehicle to take some photos of a barn. When I returned, a cat was curled up asleep on the driver's seat. How he got in without me noticing is a mystery. I've yet to encounter a mean or scary dog or a vicious cat, but maybe that's just because once I retire from barn hunting, I have a future ahead of me as a dog and cat whisperer.

In addition to dogs and cats (so many cats!) there have also been sightings of pigs, goats, donkeys, ponies, horses, chickens, turkeys, llamas, sheep, and of course, cows. When we're working on measuring a barn, which is an all-day, usually multi-day affair, we get to really mingle with the local animal-folk. I'm surprised that I haven't smuggled any kitties home with me yet. Just yesterday we were measuring a barn where a brand-new calf is in residence, and Stacy and I discussed how we might sneak him into the trunk of the Le Sabre and take him home, and then what could be done with him once he grew into a full-sized bull.

Encountering animals during barn hunting is not just cute and fun, it's also exciting because it provides us with a sort of glimpse into the past. In decades past, all Saskatchewan barns would have housed animals of some kind. Most barns in this area were built to house the horses which were needed to work the land, and the cows which provided milk for the family. Animals were always a part of farm life, but what was once common has become exceptional. Most yards that I drive into now don't have any animals save for a dog and maybe some cats. The majority of barns I've investigated are not housing any sort of livestock. Many of them are still inhabited, but by swallows, mice, flies, and perhaps cats, in short, not the sort of creatures these great buildings were meant to house.

Thus, when I come across a barn that is still used for its original purpose, or even partly for its original purpose, it's exciting. This is a barn in its original context, this is a glimpse of the past.

And now, without further ado, are the cute animals. This is but a small selection of the many dozens of animal photos I have taken during my time as a barn hunter, and most of them were taken at two farms that still have barns in use as animal houses.
This barn south of Radville has a somewhat unusual design in that there is no hay loft, but rather a mow in the centre which holds the hay. The leans on each side contain stalls for cattle and horses. The mow is also home to several cats.

 A jersey milk cow and her brand new calf.

Mama and baby head outside for the calf's first glimpse of the sun. 

Cat in a feed trough, nonchalantly. 

Cat in a hayloft, elegantly. 
A hen poses glamorously in the shadow of a fence post. 

Goats frolicking! And a chicken!
Chickens grazing! And a goat!

My cat, Rufus, who is afraid of leaving the house and can't even imagine the privations of living in a barn.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely critters all! My favourite is the goat and hens grazing :)
    Where are the horses?
    Next time a horse please :)