Barn Beds

The kittens are dealing with the cold by lying about in my washing, playing in the fruit bowl, sneaking into the cupboards and their table manners are dreadful.

Boo still loves them though.


The barn was still yesterday. Still and quiet.   Cold. The birds fluffed up and warm, peering about watching for any loose oats spilling  into the straw.  It is hard for me to describe to you the stillness and essential warmth of the barn even in the bitter cold.  The animals watch me, oh I know it  is a cupboard love but once they have inspected my hands and seen no apples or carrots they turn back to their sleeping or scavenging, thinking and drifting and the sounds of the whispering building and the chiming birds resumes. The wind speaks, the chandelier sparkle of drifting snow through the myriad of cracks in the old barn sparkle like miniscule tinsel falling to the ground. It all shifts and rearranges itself into a small oasis of dove-tailing peace.



I honestly believe that if I did not have a husband in the house to tend, I would not come inside at all. I would take my blankets and my thin foldable pillows and I would curl up behind Sheila and with my dogs at my back  I would sleep in the straw out there in the barn.  I know that seems strange. John won’t even come out and do chores in the cold.  He hates it. But I love the challenge of it, the knowledge, its power, and the barn with all its holes and patched roof and unstable loft, and flocks of birds, it is my haven. the breath of all these animals who depend on me, their eyes and radar ears and if the animals can survive out there surely I can too. I would you know. Sleep out there. Just to see if I could. The cows have their own beds, the same one every night, the big pigs have their bed, and the little kunes have their bat cave, the chickens roost in the same spot every night.  Should I sleep with the big pigs or the kunes?.. hmm.

It was cold yesterday.  But we have seen colder. Much colder.


And it snowed last night.

I hope you have a lovely day.

Your friend on the farm (and everyone needs a friend with a farm)



71 Comments on “Barn Beds

  1. C, I have missed out on soo much since the start of the holidays and seems I will only be fully back in the swing of things next week. I am treasuring having Pete home for an extended period so no complaining.
    Stay warm C and I do hope you get the chance to have a sleepover with the animals, just for one night. 😀
    Have a beautiful day.
    Love to you from a beautifully warm and sunny SA.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  2. Sheila would be a warmer and more peaceful sleeping companion, but I would be unable to resist the kune kunes, with their wicked, clever faces, furry ears and thick fuzzy coats. One shouldn’t have favourites, but one does, and her name is Miss Timatanga Moana.

  3. I imagine that Sheila would give off more heat but as katechiconi said it would be hard to resist the kune kunes — if it were me I would build my own straw house and curl up with Ton and Boo. Only an inch more of snow here last night but the temp has dropped 10 degrees in the past 4 hours. Hope that you are staying warm.

  4. You are without doubt one of the strongest women I know. Your will to live, to exist, in the world as it is, is formidable. And I agree with Viv. Your writing takes the breath away. I also agree with her that you should stay warm. Sleep with John. Not with pigs.

  5. Forming your blankets into a sleeping bag of sorts and your little foldable pillows and your head covered, you could sleep out there with Sheila’s heat on one side and the dogs up against your back. With just your hair peeking out and your own breath keeping you warm, you would be cozy, I imagine. Warm wooly socks on your feet is a must. I can see it and it would be a treat. You might wake up with a little round of piggy faces staring at you and grunting softly to let you know that it was time to get up and feed them their vittles. Wouldn’t that be a picture? Beautiful imagery today. xx

  6. Miss C, I don’t think you should try sleeping out there tonight or tomorrow night … I would worry! I am not looking forward to the frigid temperatures and wind chill. I dread heading outside on those days, but once I am bundled, like you…I (sort of) enjoy the challenge.

  7. You made me remember a part of Animal Farm with your post today:

    “The pigs begin living in the farmhouse, and rumor has it that they even sleep in beds, a violation of one of the Seven Commandments. But when Clover asks Muriel to read her the appropriate commandment, the two find that it now reads “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.” Squealer explains that Clover must have simply forgotten the last two words. All animals sleep in beds, he says—a pile of straw is a bed, after all. Sheets, however, as a human invention, constitute the true source of evil. He then shames the other animals into agreeing that the pigs need comfortable repose in order to think clearly and serve the greater good of the farm.”

    I would want to sleep near the chickens. Close enough I could overhear their low conversation and soft clucks as they drift off.

    • Love this quote.thank you… . and that reminds me of a quote from Daphne de Maurier, evidently she said to the children as she headed out to her shack to write (they had rented an enormous old english ‘pile’ for the summer.). “I don’t care what you do just no goats in the beds!!” c

  8. my dad used to tell about neighbors who lived on adjoining farm. in the 1920-30’s
    they had a 2 room shack, numerous children, after the boys were older than 6 yrs or so, they slept in the barn loft,in the hay, all year around.
    the girls and parents slept in the house

    • wow.. i love these old stories of yours ron, apart from anything else they remind us of how absolutely spoilt we are.. imagine..c

  9. I think that Sheila would be the best hot water bottle for you!

  10. Wait just a wee bit longer until Spring is here Celi, so the sleep in the barn can be much warmer and thus, even more enjoyable. I’m with Our John in that I do not like the cold!!!

  11. Ha ha – I was thinking about how farmers lived above the animals centuries ago (at the start of you post) and then you contemplate sleeping with the pigs! I’d be very tempted to go out and have a barn slumber party myself 😉

    • I keep telling John that we need to build a room beside the house for the cows, they are so warm, there is always condensation on their coats.. Elsie has the full three inches of melting snow on her back this morning even with the barn to go into, she stood out in the snow.. they are a tough breed the Dutch Belted and she looks so dainty. morning mad!.. c

      • I’ve seen houses in Spain built above the barn and one or two in Cornwall. I’m always amazed by Welsh sheep in blizzards who can stay buried alive in snow drifts for a week or more.

        • India too….I have a friend who lives on a farm in the north, her and her family live above the cows…water buffalo actually….and the cowman and his family live right beside the cows. The sounds of horns tocking on the beams at night, and soft blowy cow noises, as well as the lovely smell wafting up is wonderful to go to sleep with. It’s so warm right above them too. I vote for sleep in the barn whenever you feel like it. Get John a hot water bottle 🙂

  12. There is something so magical about animals hunkered down in the cold. I loved going out to tend the chickens in the coop on these days. Their fat, puffed-up bodies; their gentle voices. The coop was always warm, cozy, and inviting on those days, . . . .

    Thanks for weaving words so skillfully — and evoking such a feeling. 🙂

  13. Probably one of the most cherished memories from my childhood is the feeling that would come when the cows were tied in the barn for night in the winter. The feeling of warmth, the smells of cows and hay, the cats heading for their favorite cow to sleep on. Right before the lights would be turned off it would be munching hay and clinking neck chains and a few thumps to establish whose space was whose. I think of this when it turns cold and snowy like now. Sadly (at least to me) the milking herd grew and we went to a loafing shed and it was mostly just calves and cats in the barn. I’m sure for my parents it was easier clean up because the tractor and loader could be used as opposed to mostly pitchforks. I was in my ealy teens when we switched. I think I could still draw a diagram of the barn and tell you where each cow went.

    • Such a lovely memory, why were the cows tied Jeanne? To keep them in out of the cold? To keep them away from the calves? ready for milking in the morning? They are funnny how they have their ow beds though, when our new cow comes there will be a reshuffle I am sure.. Queenie always gets the bed by the door, I keep the beds clean with fresh straw.. but let it get deep this time of year.. c

      • Yes to all. Also it prevented the boss cow from taking or not allowing the meeker cows to get to their hay. Some boss cows are benevolent leaders (unless you tick them off), others are constantly knocking the underlings around. At that time we only had a hay shed that as it was fed out of, the gates were pushed back and the few cows that couldn’t fit in the barn (usually dry cows or “difficult” ones) and the yearling heifers could access it to get out of the weather from the holding lot. The cows were milked, then depending on the severity of the weather, they either went back into the lot get a drink or they were released from the stanchions and went right to their spot. If they went out into the lot , after the automated pipeline cleaning process was started the big side door was opened and the cows were let into the barn. Each cow had a neck chain (I think they were called t-chains) and there were wooden mangers and heavy thick boards with holes drilled in them. The cow came up to her spot and the bottom of the chain was slipped into the hole to secure her. They looked like these only with more rounded ends. In really bad weather, blowing snow, frigid temps the cows went back through the parlor in the morning then went out to get a drink. After a cow left her spot any wet bedding or manure was forked out into the aisle, pushed down to the door and fresh straw added. When all cows were out, the big door on the opposite side from the lot was rolled open. All the soiled straw was loaded into the spreader to immediately be put on the fields or the loader to be piled up for warmer weather to spread it. This took less than an hour and the cows came back into barn and were tied and fed hay again. They would be let out about 2 in the afternoon so they would have some water and exercise before the evening milking started at four. Some really nasty days they were let out right before milking and if you weren’t quick about getting everyone out the door the first cows out would have gotten their drink and be trying to come back in. In tolerable winter weather the cows would be out in the pasture during the day. We would feed them (and the whitetail deer) hay out of the wind in the lee of a hill. The deer would gather across the road and watch for us. This is when it was rare to see a deer let alone a group of them. Our barn had maybe a fourth on one end that was old horse stalls from when my grandfather used horses to farm, a fourth on the opposite end that was divided between the milking parlor and the milk house, and probably at least half in the middle that was open except for the support posts. The young calves were in the box stall in the horse section and tied behind the other stalls which we put milk cows in. The calves were also tied to the support posts and if we were having a really good heifer year they might be out in the hay shed too. Originally the middle section had grain bins for storage in it. I was fairly young when I started slipping the chains in the hole from the manger. I couldn’t do the others with the board because I might get stepped on and when I started helping we still had some cows with horns that they knew how to use. I was kind of scared of those cows. I think we had around 20 milk cows at that time.

        • I may have to do that with Queenie, she is such a bossy cow, getting too much hay and she really does need to cut down. Though I feed elsie over the other side. They have no grain at all because of fat Queenie. Hmm. Finding a chain big enough for her would be a problem. So the chain was long enough so they could get to their hay, and get up and down. Sounds very well organised. Thank you Jeanne. .. c

          • Yes the cows could get up and down, even knock some sense into that pesky first calf heifer next to them that didn’t know the protocol yet, swipe their neighbors’ hay if they didn’t eat fast enough or were not careful in how they shook the flakes. If you know some one who welds you could get a couple of chains and have one custom made for Queenie. My dad fixed ones that broke and made ones that fit fluffy cows. He even made a long heavy chain for one cow we had that when she became #3 on bovine boss list was nasty to all the lower ranks. She was a stealth rammer. The chain slowed her down so her victims could get away. When the boss cow changed the new boss put a stop to her nastiness. There are also regular neck chains that are just a length of chain held together with rings that look like a super duty version of the ring that hold your keys. You got Sheila to slim down so I bet you can slim Queenie down too. She needs some grass hay, not the good stuff with alfalfa in it, I think Elsie needs that. Elsie looks like a cross between a skinny Jersey and a Belted Galloway.

  14. your words and thoughts are sheer beautiful, so descriptive…I am absolutely certain that one day you will sleep in the barn, just to feel it as you say in your words…you are an artist Miss C….a wonderful artistry of vocabulary

  15. the kitties are so beautiful and their fur colours are absolute magical

  16. I can understand you wanting to spend a night with the animals, especially as you love nighttime so much. Sharing our animals’ body heat is not a knew concept, after all… grab an arctic sleeping bag and go for it… Maybe when you get back from the wedding. 🙂

  17. I’m glad I’m not the only one willing to sleep outside! My family thinks I’m mad, but I think it’s wondrous. Sleeping with the big animals makes sense for warmth, but that bat cave sounds inviting, too.

  18. I completely understand the desire and thoughts of sleeping with the pigs… only for me it would be to experience the world of the deer. I saw Daisy and Spirit deer bedded down in the pasture just south of the house last night. They were bathed in the moonlight, and I wondered about grabbing my warmest thermal clothing and a heavy comforter and pillow and laying down between the two of them. I laid with Daisy one time after a storm like that when she was a yearling. I marveled at the warmth of the ground, the brightness of the stars and moon, and the night sounds of the woodlands. Finally, the mosquitoes got the best of me, but it was pure bliss to lay quietly beside her.

  19. Your post and the remarks of all the Fellowship evoke such thoughts and feelings of longing, I cannot begin to describe.

  20. You can make a frigid day seem warm, safe and almost desirable through your words and photos. Lovely post. The moon rise shot from yesterday was stunning!

  21. ‘Morning Celi,
    You’ll soon be going back home and it is a whole lot warmer there! 67 in Wellington today!! Those precious little Pooty Poots!!! – so cute! The darling little kitty kitties and Boo would be sleeping with me! The kitties like to sleep right around your neck ~ last year a little kitty was lost and came here and I brought it in the house – of course! How that little thing ever made it across a couple of fields I’ll never know.(some days later we found the family she belonged to). At nite she would crawl right up under my chin and sleep right against my neck and just purred all nite long!! Boy did I miss her after we took her back to her family! Bet the Kitties like sleeping with Boo! I just said to Jerry yesterday ~ imagine what that was like for our fore fathers living in those log cabins in this bitter cold weather ~ like we’re going to see in the next several days! Those families with several little kids and a new baby trying to stay warm ~ oh my goodness. We have many blessings this day and age! Sleep with Sheila ~ and both of you will be happy and warm! You can snore and she can grrrunt grunt!

  22. Cute, cute, cute! love the photos – kittens are so fun. I’m staying inside except for chores – knocking out my annual soap supply!

  23. All this talk of sleeping out with the animals reminds me of a story. I will try to tell it concisely.
    Years ago when my step-son came to live with us aged fifteen, Grumpybuilder and I suddenly had a babysitter. We had not been out of an evening for a decade or more. At trip to the movies and a dinner seemed like such a treat. So off we went leaving my three year old boy in the care of his big brother. On arriving home, my boy was in bed and awake, the teenage babysitter was sound asleep. The toddler told me sleepily that he had been lonely and not able to wake his brother. Then he told me he had been fine, he had been asleep with Tiger, his big fluffy ginger cat. Under the car.
    I snuggled him down and he sleepily told me Tiger was the best babysitter. Assuming that the under the car part of the story was a toddler’s dream, I too slept easy.
    In the morning, to my horror, I found dust and oil all down the back of his pyjamas !

    • Hopefully yhis next bout of cold will not last too long.. three days I think – but I am not looking forward to it at all.. c

  24. This reminded me of a funny thing my mom used to say to us kids when we left the back door open. Shut that door! Were you born in a barn? 🙂 and of course you know where the saying its a 3 dog night came from!
    Sheila would be my choice although John might feel a little put out that you would rather sleep with a pig than him! That would be difficult for him to explain to his work mates! :))

  25. Thank you Celi, I think I have found the answer to my cold metal hip, it often wakes me in the night during the wintertime. I must find a Sheila to lie along my right side to keep me warm!

  26. I’d sleep with the kittens! You can never have enough kitten pictures! Your description of sleeping in the barn reminds me of the Heidi stories when her grandfather makes her bed in the barn loft and she awakes to the smell of hay and sounds of nature, and drinks fresh creamy milk for breakfast. Wonderful.

  27. Perhaps you appreciate the cold because you didn’t have much of it growing up? I didn’t either, in Florida, and I loved Ohio and its harsh winters because the spring – oh the spring! – meant so much more when I knew it wasn’t forever.

  28. You are such a great girl! I love the way you think. And yes, you could sleep with your wonderful animals quite easily I would imagine. Your photos are divine … sigh. 🙂

  29. [peeking in 🙂 !] Agree with ‘The Daily Cure’ – cuddle up to John rather than Sheila !!!!! Oh Miss C: clicking onto the farmy is like being at the best ever party as far as ‘conversation’ goes 😀 !!! Have tears in my eyes from laughter!

  30. Oh my gosh, I am so with you! If I had animals outside I’d most certainly sleep with them. That’s my favorite part of backpacking, sleeping outside curled around my dogs.

  31. I don’t care much for winter but I do like the feeling of accomplishment when it’s -10 F (yesterday morning) and I’ve fed, watered and refreshed the bedding of every living creature here. That includes knocking the ice packs off the equines hooves. Poor Winnie the donkey looked like he was tottering on stilettos!
    When I had my indoor pot belly pig one day I had a vicious stomach flu. I crept about outside feeding horses and such and when I came in a crawled into the daybed. Pretty soon Rosie the pig jumped up and snuggled up along my back and my two little rat terriers cuddled up in front and I was comforted.

  32. I felt like I was right there with you tonight.. but tucked warm inside. I’m not sure I have the courage to sleep outside and brave the cold.. it’s -13C and feels like -22. We have white chandelier snow here today as well! xx

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