The Days When Cattle Were King and Barns Were Round.
The last one standing
Pete French had three of these barns!
All too often, we don’t appreciate the historical and natural wonders right outside our door. I have lost track of the number of museums or local sites that I wanted to see, but never did. That is the price you pay for being on the road for ten years I suppose.
Determined to do something different with the boys, I have started planning field trips. This first one was to the Pete French Round Barn in Diamond, OR. It is just over the mountain as the bird flies, but we didn’t chance the dirt roads in spring. Driving up and around providing me with a heart warming reminder of why I love it here. The southern end of Harney County is filled with small ranches and sage. It is the kind of place I feel at home.
The boys were buzzed from a combination of Little Debbie’s brownie and what we had told them about this round barn place. Lacking baby wipes, I reminded my chocolate-mouthed duo about how we behave in places like this. We talked about how old the building was (late 1800s) and being respectful of the memories of those men and horses that worked here. The three of us moved onto the plaques, which I read aloud. Being little boys at a barn, they quickly tired of history in favor of exploration.
Their eyes were wide with wonder as we first walked through the barn opening. They had been in barns of similar age, but never one as untouched by civilization as this. We walked into the middle of the stone round corral. This is where the cowboys would care for mares and new foals during hard winters. We talked about the numerous juniper posts and the unique support system over head. Both of them were very concerned about the birds who occupied the nests. What kind were they? Where did they go?
We exited the round corral to walk about the outer ring. We talked about the windows built into the stone and the fact that teams were taught to drag sleighs in this track. They took turns reminding each other that they were supposed to walk. They ran around on the grass and I told them about the reservoir that often comes up close to the barn. We agreed that it would be cool to ride on the edge of a lake.
After that, the three of us loaded up and drove up to the Visitor’s Center. We walked through the museum portion. The boys seemed to be most in awe over the 1900’s baby furniture and the old Spanish spurs. Quirt insisted he needed rowels like those! Next, we checked out their extensive book store. Each of the boys could select a Hank the Cowdog Book while I grabbed Untamed Land by Mark Highberger to learn more about Pete French.
As I paid for the books and each of our sticks of old-fashion candy, a conversation began with Dick Jenkins. He had not only an extensive knowledge of the books they carried but was kind enough to share what he knew about our late 1800’s home. What a source of history and kindness he is!
The boys and I loaded up and headed home. They “read” their new books and were asleep before we got back to the house. If you ever get the chance to see this unique piece of history, take the opportunity to do so. You’ll be glad you did!