Why Are Barns Red?


IMG_0525Last night, I started reading the book The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Did you know it may become a movie one day?  Read the book now. . . I believe it’s always better than Hollywood’s version!  Often, I don’t know the book’s plot details before I begin the first chapter, and this book was no exception.  There’s a guy named Edgar, a boy, and a dog.  That is all I know so far!

As I was reading along, a man entered a farm.  It was an old farm for sale! Sound familiar?  I was hooked!  But then, I read this quote and was more than hooked, I was intrigued.

“He mixed milk and linseed oil and rust and blood and used the concoction to paint the barn and outhouse red.”   –David Wroblewski

Do you think this is true?  Could they have used blood on the barns?  I went on a google search to look for truth in the quote.  What I learned was that linseed oil and rust were definitely mixed together along with milk and other liquids.  This combination was quite useful in protecting and sealing the barns.  Farmers in the 1900’s were resourceful.  Since rust (which killed mold and mosses) was so plentiful on farms, it was an ideal protectant. After reading a few articles, I did discover that wealthy farmers added blood from a recent slaughter to give the barn a darker red color.  It was purely decorative!  The poorer farmers used the milk, rust and linseed oil (which has a red tint to it when it dries) and found it rather vain or immodest to paint with blood.  It was simply an extravagance!  As the years passed, when paint was more readily available to all farmers, the color red was used to honor the tradition and history of the barns.

So, that leaves me wondering. . . The Shop appears splotchier and redder in some areas than others.  Do our barns have blood painted on them or was Mr. Harvey Smith a modest man who stuck to his rust, milk and linseed oil?



4 thoughts on “Why Are Barns Red?

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  1. That was very interesting! I didn’t know blood was added to color anything! I wonder if the barn stunk from the blood. Ew-w-w.


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