The Halbach Barn
The Halbach barn at 167 North Brook Street is not as old as many of the Hampton barns, but one of the builders is still a resident over sixty years later. It was built in the early 1950’s by Edward Halbach and his father, Adolph “Pop” Halbach , and another who helped, but whose name has long been forgotten.
I remember walking into that barn for the first time over forty years ago, the stalls with baby calves waiting to be bottle fed, the smell of hay drifting down from the loft, Dave Halbach, throwing the hay down and his dad Ed, preparing the bottles, the babies bellowing their impatience as they wait to be fed. The vet would come out and checked them over and castrate the bulls, though I do remember one calf born on the farm. As they grew they were let out into the barn yard, coming in every evening to be grained and fed their hay; as they continued to grow their area was increased, free to wander over many acres, coming in every morning and evening to Ed’s call, “Come boss, come boss,” and you would hear their mooing as they approached their barn. There were cows milked on the farm, and steers raised as beef animals for meat, healthy, all natural, for family, neighbors and friends. You knew what you were eating and you knew it was good.
Then those hot summer days, pulling hay bales off the fields, throwing the hay up into the loft as the seed stuck to you, and the sweat poured off your brow…a time when neighbors and family would show up in the fields to help. It wasn’t a lot of bales, but when the sun beats down, and a storm is brewing in the distance, it is always nice to see Gerry Bailey and Len Patera show up to help. As little as it may have been, you cannot afford to have it get wet; live stock needed to be fed. I think one of my fondest memories of the barn – the shadow it threw when we were all done bringing in the hay. Sitting in that shade, drinking a beer or a soda, just chatting and doing a bit of catch up with those who appeared to help, the warmth of friendship.
It has been a few years now since steers were raised or hay was thrown in the loft. With the busy lives of all around and even aging, the hay is picked up now by another that uses it, the meat now raised by others, just as good and natural. The barn has seen better days, but memories make it seem like it is 40 years younger, and when there is a bon fire in the pit at the pond and a storm comes in, there is always shelter, as there always was.