Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 01/19/2016

Photo taken on January 17, 2016

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Anne Elliott
E of Calgary
rural scene
old barn
17 January 2016

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I put this photo through a filter in post-processing and preferred this somewhat more detailed result than the original. Unfortunately, the light was fading when I started my drive back to the city and stopped to take a quick couple of shots. This old barn was in the same farmyard as the collapsing barn posted yesterday. Always so sad to see beautiful structures falling into such a bad state of repair, but I'm sure many farmers have more urgent things on which to spend their money.

Two days ago, on 17 January 2016, I finally got out for a much-needed drive out of the city. It seems ages since I did this, but I had some time, the sun was making its way through the clouds, and I had plucked up the courage to go east from the city. Recently, I was out that way on a birding trip with a group and we had seen a total of 6 extremely distant Short-eared Owls (3 pairs) at different locations. So, I was really hoping that my courage would be rewarded by spotting at least one owl : )

I was so fortunate to see several beautiful Short-eared Owls. They were way across a field and didn't once come close and perch on a fence post. However, I can't believe that I was lucky enough to see three of them perched together just before it was time to drag myself away and return home. How beautiful they are. This does seem to be a good winter for this species, which is exciting.

Standing in -15C (windchill -22C) weather is NOT fun, trust me! It was SO cold. Fortunately, people were standing right by their cars and could climb back in when the pain became too unbearable. Five minutes occasionally of running the engine was barely enough to keep me going, plus a handwarmer inside my right glove. My feet finally thawed out once I arrived back home. It was all worth it, though, just for the chance to see these beautiful owls. I will keep hoping, though, for the chance to see one close up on a fence post.

An interesting link, with the information below, that answers the question: "WHY ARE BARNS USUALLY PAINTED RED?"

"If you've ever driven through a rural area, it's likely that you've seen the red barns that speckle the farming landscape. There are several theories as to why barns are painted red.

Centuries ago, European farmers would seal the wood on their barns with an oil, often linseed oil -- a tawny-colored oil derived from the seed of the flax plant. They would paint their barns with a linseed-oil mixture, often consisting of additions such as milk and lime. The combination produced a long-lasting paint that dried and hardened quickly. (Today, linseed oil is sold in most home-improvement stores as a wood sealant). Now, where does the red come from?

In historically accurate terms, "barn red" is not the bright, fire-engine red that we often see today, but more of a burnt-orange red. As to how the oil mixture became traditionally red, there are two predominant theories. One is that wealthy farmers added blood from a recent slaughter to the oil mixture. As the paint dried, it turned from a bright red to a darker, burnt red. The other is that farmers added ferrous oxide, otherwise known as rust, to the oil mixture. Rust was plentiful on farms and is a poison to many fungi, including mold and moss, which were known to grown on barns. These fungi would trap moisture in the wood, increasing decay.

Regardless of how the farmer tinted his paint, having a red barn became a fashionable thing. They were a sharp contrast to the traditional white farmhouse. As European settlers crossed over to America, they brought with them the tradition of red barns. In the mid to late 1800s, as paints began to be produced with chemical pigments, red paint was the most inexpensive to buy. Red was the color of favor until whitewash became cheaper, at which point white barns began to spring up. Today, the color of barns can vary, often depending on how the barns are used."