It’s fortunate that no people or animals were harmed in the fast and violent storm that cut across The Valley this week. That storm knocked down trees, uprooted other trees, flipped outbuildings and flattened a dairy barn that has stood for over a century and a half.

We’re lucky our community members and their animals weren’t hurt and sorry that their properties were damaged.  And we’re saddened to lose one of the few remaining historic barns that represent our past and the dairy industry that once dominated our landscape.

It’s completely understanding that the Neill family, whose 110- by 45-foot barn was flattened this week, won’t rebuild it. The timbers will be salvaged and enough infrastructure rebuilt to allow farming to continue. The Neill farm transitioned from dairy farming to meat farming over a decade ago and no longer has a need of a three-story barn with a high drive and a milk house.

It’s sad to lose that piece of our history, a barn that was undoubtedly raised for the original farmer with the help of friends and family. It’s sad to see a building that has defined the local landscape and our viewshed for so many years, flattened in the grass.

The once prolific dairy industry in Vermont and The Valley has changed and evolved. Many barns here and throughout the state have been preserved and repurposed such as our own Skinner Barn, the Joslin Round Barn and the Wallace barn. We still have some working barns in The Valley such as the Spaulding, Turner, Kenyon, DeFreest, Howes, Bragg/Ploughgate, Knoll Farm barns and others including The Common Man barn which is soon to become housing.  

It’s still sad, though, to lose a barn. It’s understandable that for the Neill family it feels like the loss of a family member.

It was a vicious and fast storm that tore up a tree that was 3 feet across, toppled other trees and ripped up a huge stand of mature pines trees in addition to the damage to structure.  The damage could have been worse. People could have been hurt. That’s the good news.

But damn, it’s hard to lose that barn.