You can make friends with an old barn. This one was built in 1906 by John Basye's great-grandfather on Beaver Marsh Road in the Skagit Valley, out in the flats where the wind is blowing and the soil is fertile.
You need to watch the video, which is only 90 seconds long, to get a picture of it. This Old Barn.
They're harvesting wheat right now -- farmers loving this hot, dry weather, good for harvesting wheat. Drought in Russia makes wheat scarcer, raises the price. They were looking at $4 a bushel, and some farmers sold their wheat this spring on the futures market at $4 a bushel -- often a smart move -- but not this year. It's gone up to $7 a bushel on the spot market because of the drought in Russia, causing a trading frenzy at the wheat pits in Chicago.
Our Skagit farmers grow wheat as a rotation crop, it's not how you make a living, like potatoes, or seed crops, or berries, but you grow wheat because you cannot grow potatoes every year. And this year at $7 a bushel, it doesn't hurt.
John Basye's barn is getting a new roof. He tore the old cedar shingles off and they can't be replaced. All the cedar has been logged in this territory, and good cedar for roofs would come from Canada at a very high price. Instead, the new roof will gleam with metal, which is a long-lasting material and has reflective qualities, brightening the sunshine and bouncing the rays back into the sky.
Metal roofs ping-ping the rain. It will be a different winter this year with a new metal roof. It will be louder.
Right now, the roof is off and the rafters are exposed to the weather -- for the first time in 100 years, seeing the sky, breathing and drying out in the heat of summer. You can hear the beams groan like arthritic grandfathers.
But this essay is not an exercise in nostalgia, not some hearkening back to the old days when the big trees were logged, and the stumps were blasted out with shovels and dynamite.
No, "This Old Barn" is about the future. You put a new roof on your barn because you're betting on the future. You're betting on one hundred more years of farming in the Skagit Valley, growing food for our children's children's children on broad, flat and fertile acres.
One hundred years from now we will need this barn. Of course, you never know, it's a flood plain. A big enough flood could float this barn away. And there's fire -- the old barn is built of wood. And it gets windy in the flats -- a really strong wind might damage the barn beyond repair.
But you bet on the future when you put on a new roof. There's no sure thing and where else can you put your money?
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