The Farm Chronicles: The granary and the ram

The granary was by far the scariest building on the farm. It sat up on block pillars. It was large and old, with weather worn siding. The front faced the driveway that led to the barn. It had a door that when opened there were different bins. We would use it to store grain for animal feed. It also doubled as the basketball court with an old rusted rim sort of dangling from its loose bolts as if asking anyone walking by to tighten it up and give it a net. No takers, but if that’s where my brother got his basketball skills playing in the gravel in barn boots, it served him well. At night, the granary stood a foreboding guardian of the barn and the nearby milk house. And certain animals could hide beneath and behind it.

My oldest brother Chuck had many animal projects. His old Airedale, Mike, lived under the granary, a grouchy dog with stiff wiry fur that would only let me pet him when he felt charitable enough to grace me with the privilege. Chuck also had pigs. They lived in a dilapidated building kind of catty-corner to the granary. And then there were the sheep. The sheep were mostly fun, especially in the spring with the newborn lambs. Usually, the lambs came too early for it to be really warm outside for them. I remember bringing them inside the house and sitting on the kitchen register holding them as we both warmed up from the chilly Ohio spring mornings. The warmth of the lamb and the register, the smell of young wool, and how they would cuddle in my arms–those are the good memories.

As a four-year old, what made the granary the spookiest building on the farm was that I never knew what was going to happen when I got near it. Sometimes Mike would be in a foul mood and growl or bark at me when I was going to the milk house or the barn. But the worst of it was the ram. For some reason, Chuck’s ram hated me, and he, too, lived out behind the granary. He was a sneaky guy. He would linger between the granary and the barn, just out of sight and wait for me to walk out toward the milk house. When I was between the granary and the milk house, just when it was most difficult to get away, the ram would come charging out from the backside of the granary, head lowered, chasing me until he ran me down.

I can’t say how many times that ram head-butted me to the ground. It didn’t matter if I took a bat to protect myself, he would chase me until I dropped it, then without mercy, run me over. It was like Daniel 8:4, “I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, so that no other beasts might stand before him neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will and became great.” I certainly couldn’t stand before him, or run from him. I didn’t get much sympathy either. Dad would say, “You have to be smarter than the ram.” Chuck, the consummate athlete, would say, “You need to run faster.” They both got a little chuckle out of it. When Chuck went off to college, the sheep were sold. And not long after, the granary was torn down. Eventually, I had peace.

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Bill Wilson