Today, I had the great privilege to visit Chuck Smith at his home in Waukee, Iowa. Chuck and I have something in common--the love of old Iowa barns. When I travel the country roads, I often stop to admire the old barns that still stand on so many of our Iowa farms. Chuck's old barns are equally beautiful, but they require a little more imagination. He collects paper barns. Let's take a look.
Whoever heard of a paper barn and where did you get it? Paper barns were very popular during my growing up years (1932-1948.) They weren't actually paper--they were cardboard cut outs (see box in the background.) You ordered them from Montgomery Ward, Sears, or other catalogs, and put them together yourself. Now tell me the truth--can you think of a better way for a kid to spend a cold winter evening? Well--that was then--if I were growing up now, I would probably opt out for an NBA game on TV.
"Farmer Brown (or was that Old MacDonald) had a farm E I E I O and on his farm he had a horse E I E I O."
I know--you young guys have never heard that--but we oldsters will appreciate it.
"And on his farm he had a pig E I E I O."
You're right--these aren't paper cutouts. These farm animals look like they may be made of clay, ceramic, rubber or something similar--but they are not. The horse above is made of paper mache. You can still do this: Mix one part flour with one part of water until you get a thick glue-like consistency. Add a bit more water if it's too thick. Mix well with a spoon to get rid of all the lumps. Oh-don' bother just buy a gumby!
I never made paper mache animals when I was a kid. I was not that creative. I just made huge paper spitballs and shot them toward a target on the barn door with my home made slingshot. Bragging rights--I was pretty good!
How else would you transport all of the grain, supplies and livestock needed to operate a paper farm? On a paper railroad car, of course!!!!!!
My view for the month: Paper barns--there is a lot of nostalgia here and nostalgia is one of the things I do best at my age. I consider myself blessed to have grown up in this time frame. My parents (like our neighbors) raised a few cattle, pigs, chickens and their cropland consisted of small fields rotated with corn, oats and alfalfa. This all happened on a 160 acre rented farm. They worked 12 or more hours a day--just to feed our family--and loved every minute of it. I think those years (1932-1948) ushered in the new age of technology in Iowa agriculture, as tractors replaced horses on Iowa farms. When I returned from the army, I was so proud to enter this new age in agriculture. I farmed with a John Deere Model A tractor and a two row cultivator. I thought that was as good as it could get--but let's fast forward to today. Farms are big and specialized and farm equipment has evolved to technology beyond my comprehension. Throughout the years, farmers have changed with the times and we can be thankful for that. I think there is a story in this paper barn display. It preserves an era of our past to remind us how God has blessed us with the ability and resources to move beyond those "paper barn days" so we can continue to provide food for a hungry world.
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessing will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God. (NIV) Deuteronomy 28:1,2) -- The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 28:8)