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In older style barns, the upper area was used to store hay and sometimes grain. This is called the mow (rhymes with cow) or the hayloft. A large door at the top of the ends of the barn could be opened up so that hay could be put in the loft. The hay was hoisted into the barn by a system containing pulleys and a trolley that ran along a track attached to the top ridge of the barn. Trap doors in the floor allowed animal feed to be dropped into the mangers for the animals.
In the middle of the twentieth century the large broad roof of barns were sometimes painted with slogans in the United States. Most common of these were the 900 barns painted with ads for Rock City.
An antique barn in Poland
A farm often has pens of varying shapes and sizes used to shelter large and small animals. The pens used to shelter large animals are called stalls and are usually located on the lower floor. Other common areas, or features, of a typical barn include:
- a tack room (where bridles, saddles, etc. are kept), often set up as a breakroom
- a feed room, where animal feed is stored – not typically part of a modern barn where feed bales are piled in a stackyard
- a drive bay, a wide corridor for animals or machinery
- a silo where fermented grain or hay (called ensilage or haylage) is stored.
- a milkhouse for dairy barns; an attached structure where the milk is collected and stored prior to shipment
- a grain (soy, corn, etc.) bin for dairy barns, found in the mow and usually made of wood with a chute to the ground floor providing access to the grain, making it easier to feed the cows.
- modern barns often contain an indoor corral with a squeeze chute for providing veterinary treatment to sick animals.
The physics term “barn“, which is a subatomic unit of area, 10−28 m2, came from experiments with uranium nuclei during World War II, wherein they were described colloquially as “big as a barn”, with the measurement officially adopted to maintain security around nuclear weapons research.
- “He couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn” is a popular expression for a person having poor aim when throwing an object or when shooting at something.
- To “lock the barn door after the horse has bolted” implies that one has solved a problem too late to prevent it.
- “Were you born/raised in a barn?” is an accusation used differently in various parts of the English-speaking world, but most commonly as a reprimand when someone exhibits poor manners by either using ill-mannered language (particularly if related tomanure), or leaving doors open.
- “Your barn door is open” is used as a euphemism to remind someone to zip the fly of their trousers.