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Within the Knotty Pine Walls: A Barn Story

Heartbeet Barn

Nestled in the center of our lifesharing community, the Heartbeet Barn is a characteristic Vermont icon. A distinctive atmosphere emanates from within the knotty pine walls of the native rough cut timber structure, which provides much more than warmth and shelter for our animals. It also encompasses all the memories of countless stories told, of songs sung, of bitter cold fingertips and toes, and of emerging friendships in the spirit of working together, revealing experiences of birth, burgeoning life and of death. Furthermore, barn life offers everyone a unique, regular daily routine and an environment that thrums to a definite rhythm or pulse in likeness to the beat of the human heart.

The barn door swings open on the morning of the spring equinox, allowing entrance to eager snow flurries blowing in from the cold and in the company of Connor’s wide, bright and friendly grin and his, “Good Morning Ladies!” He was not referring to the Cows; but rather this is his usual merry greeting for Sequoya, Annie J. and me while we were busy brushing the Cows. “I am going to milk two cows today!” I stopped to think of Brittany, learning to hand milk a cow and sharing the gratification of her success with family, friends and new acquaintances with- a twinkle in her eye, “I milked the cow…and the cow made chocolate milk.” Meanwhile, Jared faithfully checks and fills the animal water troughs in a typical and systematic fashion and completes his routine by sweeping the barn floor until spotless, stating, “I think it’s ready for the Board Meeting.” Ann B. is giving a tour of the barn and is delighted at the newest spectacle, the birth of a kid goat, Lavender, who is taking her first steps. Every day on his afternoon walk Sean collects the compost buckets from all the house kitchens and with great satisfaction feeds the appreciative pigs. The barn chores occur every day, twice a day, rain, snow or shine. They provide the Heartbeet Community with cow milk, goat milk, butter, yogurt, kefir, cheese, eggs, beef, pork, chicken & turkey, and represented a value-added savings last year of $60,000.

The animals and our crews have been deeply grateful for the renovation of the back part of the barn, completed in 2010. It is serving our animals well. Now the oldest section of the Heartbeet Barn has aged to a timeworn stage and deteriorated to the point of needing repair. We have plans to re-establish the foundation and have collectively envisioned and approved the design of two new additions on our barn to meet the needs of the growing community. Community members have rallied in support of caring for the barn and are excited to increase its size and thereby improve animal housing and productivity in our daily work. Construction is scheduled to begin June 2014.

We welcome anyone and everyone who wishes to open a new doorway to discovery: a place of honest work, friendship and understanding and an opportunity to cultivate a genuine love for the Heartbeet Barn…for many years to come!