Emma and the Williams farm at Bloomfield, 10 of 12

Robert and Morley Williams, 5th and 6th generation farmers at Wilhome Farms. Circa 1960.
Robert and Morley Williams, 5th and 6th generation farmers at Wilhome Farms. Circa 1960.

By 1875 John Williams decided that the time had come for a new and ample barn. Plans for the structure 60 ft. by 105 ft., and a full 60 ft. from the basement floor to the peak, (the posts were to be a full 35 ft.!) made it, at that time, the largest barn in “The County”. Construction on the gentle slope south of the house began with cutting pine for frames and siding and cedar for shingles at the family’s mill. All of the many beams were hewn by hand. “The result was a side-hill barn with room for horse and cow stables in the basement as well as a room for machinery. A granary and stable for seven horses occupied the east end of the main floor which had two driveways entering from the north side and one from the west end. The mow space, served by horse forks, normally took care of the whole crop, and as threshed from one mow, the straw was delivered into another mow. A floor was laid below the peak of the barn which was lighted by dormer windows. In this loft, a granary was built, equipped with a winch for lifting and lowering the grain. A horse-stairs or ramp allowed the horses to be taken to and from the basement without leaving the building.

Hundreds of pounds of wrought iron nails fastened the vertical siding. The cost of the barn was about $4,000.”*

This barn, renovated and modernized over the years with stable cleaners, then a gravity-fed manure system; milking machines, then a pipeline system, along with the accompanying silos and outer buildings is the heart of Wilhome Farms to this day.

Each child who has grown up on the farm has memories of this barn – the suffocating heat of the hay mow in July and the golden steam that curls into the winter morning sunshine from warm bodies of the cows. We have built forts, waged battles and “hidden and searched” for endless hours in the hay and straw mows. We have played in the cool, smooth kernels of corn or itch-inducing barley just as others play in sand at the beach. We’ve swung from sisal ropes on lazy, rainy days. We know the sweet smell of hay and cow’s breath, the sourness of rancid milk and calf scours and the familiarity of cow manure and mice. We have stepped into what we thought of as “adulthood” with the milking of our first cows and shared cookies and cold drinks to revive our tired bodies before the afternoon chores. Some of us, with accompanying goats, have wended our way along the dusty beams high, high, high above the barn floor. For me and my aunts it is the memories of family voices blended in song as we “did the chores” that continue to make us smile. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…

 

*Merton Williams’s “The Samuel Williams-Jemima Platt Family”.

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