Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Episode 444 (10-29-18): Water in the Barn

Click to listen to episode (3:59).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, photos, and additional information follow below.

Except as otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 10-26-18.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of October 29, 2018.

MUSIC – ~ 10 sec

This week, we mark the harvest season in Virginia with music about a type of agricultural building whose functions have a lot to do with water.  Have a listen for about another minute.

MUSIC - 43 sec –Lyrics in the excerpt: “I still love to drive here to see the stars at night, though the cities’ lights grow brighter every year.  Hear the barn creak in the summer breeze, watch the sky for satellites, imagine that old farmer standing near.  And the weather bugs and fungus make the barn lean more each year; the earth pulls on all things that stand above.  Neglect surrenders to the wind, no reason left to stand; next generation’s memories will be towns, and not the land.”

You’ve been listening to part of “The Barns,” by Bob Gramann of Fredericksburg, Va., from his 2001 album “See Further in the Darkness.”  The song describes the fading presence of barns in rural areas where working farms have been converted to residential developments, as has happened in much of Virginia in recent decades.  Despite those conversions, however, Virginia agriculture as of 2017 still included over 44,000 farms on over 8 million acres, producing over $3.4 billion in cash receipts from all commodities, from livestock to grains to fruits and vegetables.

So the Commonwealth is still home to many functional barns, and those functions are related to water in several ways. Barns keep crops, animals, and equipment dry from the weather’s water.  Barns can also be designed specifically for drying out certain crops.   Livestock barns have to allow for ventilating moisture produced by the animals and for removing livestock wastewater.  And thinking back to the theme of this episode’s opening music, in unmaintained barns water rusts the barn’s iron and supports the fungi, bacteria, and insects that break down a barn’s wood.

Virginia’s 21st Century landscape is home to barns old and new.  Round or rectangular, wooden or steel, agricultural or residential—barns display a history of ideas for managing the wet and dry of life.

Thanks to Bob Gramann for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with a few more seconds of “The Barns.”

MUSIC - ~ 15 sec


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“The Barns” from the 2001 album “See Further in the Darkness,” is copyright by Bob Gramann, used with permission.   More information about Bob Gramann is available online at https://www.bobgramann.com/folksinger.html.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.

Virginia Water Radio thanks Lesley Howard for her help with the photos accompanying this episode.


A Sampler of Barns in Western Virginia and West Virginia, October 2018.

On Waiteville Road near Paint Bank, Va. (Craig County), October 27, 2018.

Along State Route 18 south of Covington, Va. (Alleghany County), October 27, 2018.

Along State Route 18 south of Covington, Va., (Alleghany County), October 27, 2018.

Along U.S. 220 north of Covington, Va. (Alleghany County), October 27, 2018.

At Garth Newell Music Center in Bath County, Va., October 28, 2018.

Along U.S. 311 at Sweet Springs, West Virginia (Monroe County), October 28, 2018.


Alberta [Canada] Agriculture and Forestry, “Cereal Grain Drying and Storage,” 6/19/01 (revised 10/22/18), online at https://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/crop1204.

Michael J. Auer, “The Preservation of Historic Barns,” National Park Service Preservation Brief 20, October 1989, online at https://www.nps.gov/tps/how-to-preserve/briefs/20-barns.htm.

M.C. Baker, “Decay of Wood,” National Research Council Canada, March 1969, online at http://web.mit.edu/parmstr/Public/NRCan/CanBldgDigests/cbd111_e.html.

Kiersten Lee-Nielsen, “The History of Barns in America,” Mother Earth News, 12/10/15, online at https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/the-history-of-barns-in-america-zbcz1512.

USDA/National Agricultural Statistics Service, “2017 State Agricultural Overview—Virginia,” online at https://www.nass.usda.gov/Quick_Stats/Ag_Overview/stateOverview.php?state=VIRGINIA.

USDA/National Agricultural Statistics Service/Virginia Field Office, “2018 Virginia Annual Statistical Bulletin,” online at https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Virginia/Publications/Annual_Statistical_Bulletin/index.php.

P.J. Pellitteri and W.L. Gojmerac, “Identifying and Controlling Wood-destroying Insects,” Wisconsin Cooperative Extension A3093, undated, online at https://learningstore.uwex.edu/Identifying-and-Controlling-Wood-Destroying-Insects-P299.aspx.

Preservation Virginia, “Tobacco Barn Preservation Project,” online at https://preservationvirginia.org/our-work/tobacco-barn-preservation-project/.

Superior Buildings LLC, Harrisonburg, online at https://www.superiorbuildings.net/pole-building-types/agricultural/.

Virginia Barn Builders—DC Barns (headquartered in Bend, Ore.), online at https://www.dcbuilding.com/us/virginia-barn-builders/.

Virginia Barn Company, Dillwyn, online at https://www.virginiabarncompany.com/.

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, “Virginia Agriculture,” online at https://www.farmflavor.com/virginia-agriculture/.

Virginia Farm Bureau, “Harvest is at the heart of fall farming in Virginia,” 2017, online at https://www.vafb.com/membershipwork/news-resources/Harvest_in_Virginia.”


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Overall Importance of Water” subject category.


2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change Theme
K.10 – Changes in natural and human-made things over time.
1.7 – changes in temperature, light, and precipitation affect plants and animals, including humans.
2.7 – Weather and seasonal changes affecting plants and animals.
3.8 – Basic patterns and cycles in nature.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-6 History Theme
1.2 – Virginia history and life in present-day Virginia.

Grades K-6 Geography Theme
1.6 – Virginia climate, seasons, and landforms.

Grades K-6 Economics Theme
3.8 – understanding of cultures and of how natural, human, and capital resources are used for goods and services.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.3 – how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250 (1-26-15) – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255 (3-2-15) – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282 (9-21-15) – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309 (3-28-16) – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 332 (9-12-16) – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403 (1-15-18) – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404 (1-22-18) – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade. Episode 406 (2-5-18) – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407 (2-12-19) – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.