It was a resilient old barn that withstood the brutal lashings of prairie weather for decades. It was erected by John and Wilma Belcher north of Bield, Manitoba, along the south boundary of the Duck Mountain provincial park, and was the centre of the farm’s livestock operations.
The first half of the barn was built in 1943 and the second half, the back half, was added in the early 1950s.
Early on the barn was used for dairy cattle. Loose hay was lifted into the loft with a hayfork pulley system and then placed with the help of a rail that ran the length of the ceiling.
Later in the barn’s life it was used to keep calves warm in the winter, there was usually a stall or two with a sow and piglets, and a stall for John’s workhorses.
It was a fierce storm in 2012 that uprooted and snapped dozens of trees in the yard that finally defeated the barn’s posture. Since the storm the barn’s lean grew every year and it had become an unsafe structure.
Local fire authorities were alerted to the planned burn, and a burning permit was obtained.
Photos by Robin Booker