You can go almost anywhere in the country and if you travel through farmland one thing will remain constant: you will see a red barn. Red barns are nostalgic and traditional, and feel like a piece of America.
But, red barns aren’t just red for no reason. Hundreds of years ago, it had a very practical purpose.
According to the farmers almanac, the history of red barns goes back hundreds of years. Back then, farmers weren’t thinking about what color would give their property the best aesthetic. They were more concerned with protecting the wood in their barns so that they would stand the test of time.
A few centuries ago, things like paint and sealant weren’t widely available, especially on a farmer’s salary.
So, as farmers often do, they used what was on hand or could easily get to create a concoction that would protect their barns. They mixed linseed oil, lime, milk and rust to coat the wood.
The rust provided a natural barrier against moss and fungus, and stained the barns the red color of the fire trucks we know and love today.
Today, we think of red barns as traditional and a way to connect with history and generations past. But, if a farmer pulls out a can of red paint today to tint his barn, he’s one step ahead of the original painters.
Of course, now farmers can protect their barns with sealants that defend against weather and mold. But there’s something so pure, simple, and refreshing about seeing a red barn and knowing that while it could be any color, most farmers carry on a centuries-old tradition.