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CRAWFORD: Has resisted century of changes

By Staff | Nov 18, 2011

Leroy and Marlene Hight's barn, with a fresh paint job in 2007, stands out in the Crawford County countryside. The barn was a predecessor to modern confinements. Rope and pulleys brought hay to the sheep and turkeys. A gravity system was used to bring water to the livestock troughs.

By DOUG CLOUGH

Farm News staff writer

SCHLESWIG – Quite a bit has changed since Leroy and Marlene Hight were married in 1968 and moved to their farm north of Schleswig.

That year, the Vietnam War was in progress, Rowen & Martin’s Laugh In debuted on NBC, and Richard Nixon was in the White House.

Despite the country’s cultural changes, their barn remains the same.

The Hights stand outside of their barn, the one building that has remained constant in their 43 years of marriage.

In 1976, the farm’s cob shed was dismantled. A long corn crib was razed in 1978, having served its purpose.

Gone is the original home that the Hights moved into in ’68. It was replaced with a cotemporary home in 1980, meant to meet the needs of the Hights and their three daughters.

“The summer kitchen is long gone as well,” said Marlene Hight. “It was a small building close to the house. For previous owners, it served as a place to make meals during the hot summer months.

“There wasn’t any sense in heating up the home during a hot and humid Iowa summers, especially before air conditioning came along.”

In the summer kitchen’s place is a machine shed. Its purpose more necessary in the 21st century. After all, homes have become air conditioned, but farm machinery still needs a protected environment.

Leroy and Marlene Hight stand outside of their barn, the one building that has remained constant in their 43 years of marriage. Why have they kept it with no livestock on the farm? “It’s simple, really,” said Marlene. “It’s original to the farm. I get attached. I don’t see any reason to take it down.”

hight said she enjoys the addition of an all-season gazebo, added in 2009. “It’s great to have a little getaway right on the farm,” she said. “It’s a good place to relax with a book.”

Everything that has been added over the years has its purpose for the Hight family. Yet the barn, no longer used, stays. Why?

“It’s simple, really,” she said. “It’s original to the farm. I get attached. I don’t see any reason to take it down.”

It’s easy to see that the barn, complete with an appended livestock shed jutting to the east, is the focal point of their acreage’s beauty and a testament to Iowa’s rural history.

The red barn, with its white trim, has been kept up with a 2007 paint job, and the original wood shingles are still in decent shape.

Remnants of how the barn was used can still be seen. The rope and pulley system for moving hay from the main building is still in place. The troughs, where water was gravity fed, are still sporadically placed in the livestock shed, now covered with plywood, so people won't step in them.??

The barn, the Hights note, was used for both sheep and turkeys.

The barn was in its heyday when hay was stacked to the rafters, being transferred to the livestock via a rope and cable system.

Water troughs are still noticeable in the floor of the barn.

“A windmill pumped the water to a cistern,” Leroy Hight said, “from where it was gravity-fed to the troughs. It was state of the art for a small farmer.”

The barn is now used for storage mostly.

Leroy and Marlene Hight's barn, with a fresh paint job in 2007, stands out in the Crawford County countryside. The barn was a predecessor to modern confinements. Rope and pulleys brought hay to the sheep and turkeys. A gravity system was used to bring water to the livestock troughs.

The Hights keep a number of items there, including a boat and Marlene’s father’s 1960 John Deere tractor.

Leroy, a real-estate appraiser and a director on the local rural electric cooperative; and Marlene, a church secretary and organist; have created the best of two worlds.

The Hights have a comfortable farm, both in home and appearance, complete with a piece of barn Americana.

Contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.

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