Reinhardt Family History

Memories of Eggs and Chickens

Stories from Neil Reinhardt

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of Eggs & Chickens

The Hole in the Fence

The family farm where I grew up on the Martin Road had a very close neighbor to the south. There was only about 30 feet between the two driveways. A high woven wire fence separated the two farms. This was topped by 2 strands of barbed wire. There was only one hole in the 40 rods of woven wire. This was a hole that kids and grownups could get through to the other side without climbing over the top of the fence and getting caught on the sharp barbs. The hole was small enough so the neighbors scrub bull could not get through to become the father of a calf mothered by our prize Brown Swiss heifer. There was a beaten path that lead to the hole in the fence from years of kids visiting from each family.

Just after dark on a fall evening my sisters went to the pump for a pail of water. It was very important to have water in the house for momís early morning coffee, and water to cook the kids oatmeal. They came running back to call ĎDolanís barn is on fire.í

Dad and I headed for the hole in the fence and to the barn to try to save the horses and calves. When the barn door was opened, the draft caused the flames to come toward us like waves of water, as it fed on the straw on the barn floor. Only two horses could be gotten out of the barn before we were driven out by the heat.

A tractor and silo filler were parked near the barn in preparation for filling silo the next day. The tractor could not be started. A trip was made through the hole in the fence to get an oil can of gasoline from our tractor. This was used to prime the tractor to get it started. No electric starters in those days. By the time we got the tractor started the fenders were too hot to be touched by bare hands. I could only sit on the seat a second, as the seat was very hot. I stood and drove the tractor to safety.

 The wind carried the burning wood shingles through the air. Some landed on our granary roof. Another trip through the hole in the fence. A ladder was brought, and two of us got on the granary roof. Water was carried from a nearby cow tank, up the ladder to extinguish the small fires. When the roof of our house was set afire by the flying and burning shingles, the ladder was taken and I was left on the granary roof with a pail of water to stop any new fires.

The barn roof was soon gone and there were no more flying burning shingles. Now I could sit and watch the foolish things some people do at a time like this.

The boards of an old silo that had been taken down when the new concrete silo was built were piled near the burning barn. A man, thinking the boards would catch fire, started carrying them away from the burning building. Soon others joined him and all the old boards were carried to safety. While this was going on a shed caught fire. Since there was no water the shed burned with all the machinery in it. The machinery was much more valuable than the old barn boards.

 There were many people that parked their cars on the road and ran toward the fire. They never looked where they were going. They ran through our garden, stepping on anything. Their eyes locked on the fire. From my vantage point on the roof  of the granary, I heard many cuss words as they ran into machinery parked in our farm yard. The worse was when they came to a harrow about 10 inches high. It was just high enough that it caught them on the shins as they stumbled into it. No on noticed the hole in the fence. They climbed over the top. A young lady climbing the fence was almost to the other side when her petticoat got caught on the barbed wire. When a young man came to her aid, she jumped to the ground leaving bits of clothing hanging on the barbed wire.

Dolans lost their barn, all their hay and straw, several horses and calves and most of the farm machinery. Even the two horses that got out alive had to be destroyed because of bad burns on their backs. Our farm only lost a few shingles on the granary and house roofs.

 40 years later fire again destroyed the barn that had replaced the one lost in the first fire. This time the hired man had driven a tractor into the barn. He left the motor running. It was under a hay chute hole, where the hay and straw was pushed from the mows above. The hot exhaust started the hay burning. By the time it was noticed, it was too late to save the barn.
The township volunteer Fire Dept. protected our old homestead this time. I was working out of town at the time. When I returned in the evening I went to inspect the results of the fire. I looked for the hole in the fence. It could not be found. Even the woven wire fence could not be found. Both farms were now owned by the same owner, and there was no longer a fence separating the two farms.