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Council Bluffs, IA


In 1968 the Grell family moved from the city to a small farm near Council Bluffs, IA. The barn, built decades before, was used to store equipment and a few cattle. A section of the barn had yoke-like boards that were used to hold the dairy cattle for milking.  In front of these were big wooden boxes that the cows could eat from while being milked. But the barn was mainly a treasure trove filled with antique parts and a playground for the city-turned-farm kids who grew up there.

One sibling, Nancy, remembers the barn as a cool and quiet respite from the broiling Iowa summers. When the heavy door was pulled open, the pigeons would scatter out in a flurry of flapping wings and then--silence. On hot days, the kids swung over hay bales with a 2” rope in the loft that hung from the rafters. “We would dare each other to let go and fall to the hay below,” she recalled. “I’m sure Dad would have been very worried if he knew what we did on those hot summer days.”

 Nancy and her cousin also used to race their horses around the barn, pretending it was a racetrack. She shared with us the one time the ‘boys,’ their brothers, wanted to race too. “We doubled up on one horse and let them have the other one. Now this was before our parents gave us saddles, so riding bareback was a matter of balance and knee grip. We started circling the barn at a canter when suddenly our horse decided to stop and get a bite to eat. You can imagine where I landed, being the rider in the front.  I slid right down the horse's neck and over the head.”

Over the years the barn slowly gave way to gravity’s pull and was deemed unstable. We reclaimed the structure in 2014. Special thanks to the Grell family for sharing their memories.


trays from this barn