Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What To Do About The Beloved Barn Quilt, I Mean Bat House

In giving folks directions to our farm, I always say "Look for the big black tobacco barn with a barn quilt."  Now it's a barely black barn and the barn quilt is starting to disintegrate :-(.  It used to be just me and Saint Tim discussing the situation.  Now everyone asks about it.

While it may seem rude to think of friends, family, and yes, complete strangers ragging on a quilt hanging on someone else's barn, it's actually more of a curiosity than a complaint.  The bottom of the quilt is 40' in the air.  Yes, what ARE we going to do?

We hired a tree service with a huge bucket truck to hang it in September of 2007.  It was a big job. He'd have to come back out to take it down.  I'd have to re-paint a new quilt and that was a big job as well.  We'd have to coordinate all that with getting the barn re-painted, which is...another big job. And then we have to hire Mr. Clifford to come back out to hang the new quilt. And then the plot thickens.

The other morning, dark and early, the day we dyed Renny's wool, I was up at the barn dividing her fleece and setting out what amounts I wanted to dye.  Around 6:00 I noticed some swooping and fluttering out front and some weird chirping noises.  The bats!

We've hosted a (sadly) very small bat community since we've lived here.  At best count the most bats we've had is probably five.  For the last couple of years I've only regularly seen two I think. I've assumed they lived in the barn, but I've never seen them or any signs.

The curiosity has been killing me and here they were, flying in after a busy night!  I quick stepped it out into the driveway to watch.  They swooped and rose and swooped and circled in front of me. Definitely more than two but they were so quick I couldn't keep track. Then one would whoosh and disappear.  More swooping and then whoosh, another gone.  Where were they going?

Up under the barn quilt!  No wonder they weren't using the bat house we'd hung on the side of the barn.  They were already installed in the barn quilt bat house out front.  Now I definitely don't want to take the quilt down and I'm leery of even painting the front of the barn.  I need to get up with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to see if they can figure out what kind of bats we have and if they will migrate for the winter.  Until then, we're just going to stay shabby.

Of course, now I'm obsessed with seeing the bats come in and out.  I haven't made any more pre-dawn trips to the barn, but I know I will.  First I wanted to see them fly out!  I set myself up the other night with a concrete block chair on the utility trailer aka spaceship.  Camera at the ready. And I waited.

While I waited, here's the back field before the hay was cut.  Complete with the all too familiar thunderheads building.

Graham and Daniel through the barn portal.  I took some pictures of Liddy and Blossom and Lila through the new shop windows portal, but they were pretty uninspiring.  

So I waited.  And the sun set.  Notice the difference in light between the first and last pictures? And I waited some more, watching very carefully.  And then all the bats were flying around and I didn't see a single one come out.  The end.  


  1. I love the barn quilt, even in its "shabby chic" state. Around here we have barn stars. It's great to see the regional differences.

  2. I do love your barn quilt! We have the same problem with our barn. We have a large farm sign that we had painted and hung on our barn. It now need repainting....*sigh*.

  3. What if you set up a scaffold, and did the touch up paint? Maybe put a heavy duty paint like rock guard around the chipped edges? That shouldn't disturb the wee beasties too much.

  4. I bet it looks fine from a distance! Bat Poop you should see some if they are under the quilt. I used to watch them from our bedroom at the lake, they lived behind the chimney between the bedroom windows. Morning and night...we have a bat house too but they like the greenhouse/wood shop it is warmer and dry:)

  5. So I'm not the only one who stands out at dusk to count bats? HA! I had been counting 2 or 3 for the last two years but this year I counted 7 in the spring. That should mean 12 - 14 total after the little ones start to fly out. Whoo - hoo! This is down from the 80 or so that flew out of our slate roofed farm house in '91 when we moved in. The roof was replaced in late October after the "2nd killing frost" and only one bat was seen still in the rafters. Things were great using a couple of bat houses until the white nose problem cropped up a while ago. At least we've got a slight increase at the house & we have some intrepid souls who also find a niche in the barn. Just look for the pile of droppings to know they're back. It really does cut down on the bugs at night. :)
    P.S. - I found it easier to see EXACTLY where there're coming from in the morning when they return. They sometimes have to target a small opening and they tend to make one or two passes before they are successful. That's how to locate a tiny opening ...

  6. Typical, eh? :)

    Lovely photos with the evening light. I like the one through the barn! Best of luck capturing the bats on camera next time!

  7. In forty years that ' folk art' quilt will be distressed and even more desirable. I'm liking the worn look and imagine the bats are too!

  8. The quilt is just a bit "weathered" and beautiful. And you have bats. That's a bonus.

  9. I spent a couple of weeks every evening trying to get photos of our bats. They were just tiny blurred black dots in a sea of blue sky. Every darn one of them! I did get some photos of this one though.

  10. Barn quilts are awesome!! I would love one.

    Good luck with your bat saga...I know they are amazing creatures, but they give me the heebie jeebies!!!

  11. I think your barn quilt is beautiful just like it is. It has character!

  12. I absolutely LOVE your barn quilt ~ complete with bee, butterfly and frog :-) Consider it shabby chic until the bays fly. Then add a bat to the painting this winter :-)

  13. I am SO pleased that most of the comments are POSITIVE for BATS! I love them also. and that quilt should stay there...til it falls off I guess, hmm what is under it as in on the ground??? I cannot believe the comments people would make re it...........the consummate nerve!!!

  14. Cats, dogs, shhep, and horses do what they want to do when they want to do it. Andd now we have proof bats are just as ornery!


I love to read your comments! Thank you for sharing :-).


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