Voices From Above
After sharing my experiences in my childhood home, I felt I needed to tell you about another part of the farm that was quite unnerving, and a story that still scares me.
The barn in question is an old, red, gambrel style that was kitty-corner from the old house. It has a smaller addition to the east side where we milked cattle, and a basement section where we herded the cattle during milking. The foundation is made from the same old rock, mortar, and brick that the basement of the old house is, so it's really old as well. It's safe to say that with its construction, it was at least built in the late 1800s or early 1900s.
The barn is about 80ft by 50ft, and from the floor to the tip of the gable about 35ft tall. The main floor of the barn is elevated, and you had to take a barn grade to get into. If you aren't sure what I mean by that, a barn grade is simply a long concrete ramp that leads to the entrance. The main floor was entirely open except when we had hay and straw bales stacked up there. Up here we call it a "hay mow." It was also separated into three partitions by main support beams. The entrance and barn grade were to the south of the barn, facing the road and old house.
The yard light, which was at the base of the barn grade, was the only light that shined into the barn at night. This was due to my father disconnecting the wiring from the main floor because the old cloth-style wiring was in very bad shape. We kept dry hay and straw up there, so stray sparks would make the old wood structure burn faster than a gas soaked rag. We kept the hay on the east side partition due to it being the strongest section of the barn. The center partition was normally empty; it was also where the entrance was. We kept baby calves up there when we had no room for them in the pole barn. This is where my story begins...
It was in the fall of the year 2008 at about 8:30 at night. This was shortly after we took off the third cutting of hay, and the east partition was full of hay to the rafters, which were approximately 18 feet above the floor. The hay was also stacked so that the whole partition was full across to the beams that marked the partition. There was no actual way to get on top of the hay without a ladder, nor was there a way to see above due to the lack of light in the building. The yard light only cast a beam of light as wide as the doorway onto the area where I was standing. I cannot stress it enough that there was no physical way for a human to get on top of the hay bales.
I often had to care for the baby calves and young cattle. The pole barn was full, so I had put a calf in the center partition of the old barn. After finishing with the other calves, I got some milk and headed for the hay mow.
As I went about feeding, the little two-week old calf I felt perfectly safe and calm. For a moment, anyway. I had just taken the empty pail away from the calf when I heard what sounded like a whimper coming from the top of the hay farther back. I stopped my movement for a moment to listen closer. I heard nothing, so went back to feeding the little guy.
I poured some grain into his pail and started to hand feed him and pet him up. Then I heard it again. It sounded louder this time, and it certainly sounded feminine.
I froze for a moment, letting the current events sink in. I was alone up there, save for the little white-and-black Holstein steer in front of me. Who was up there, and how did they get there? These questions were swarming my mind, but what I found more pressing was if this "person" was okay.
I stood up strait and said, "Hello, are you alright?"
The whimpers stopped.
I asked again, "Ma'am, hello?"
At this point, goosebumps stood up on my arms, and I heard crying this time.
"Hello?" I asked once more in a shaking voice.
The crying got louder and closer to the edge of the hay.
"Are you okay?" I said once more with far less confidence.
The crying then turned into full-on screaming sobs and wails right up to the edge above me. It sounded like it was right above me, ready to pounce down upon me.
Knowing now that whatever was up there was not human, I screamed, dropped the pail I was holding, and ran faster than I ever had before down the barn grade and around into the milking section of the barn.
I didn't stop until I got into the milking parlor, where my mother was just finishing up the cows. She looked at my red face and with concern asked what was wrong.
It took me a minute to catch my breath when I asked her if she had been crying.
She said, "No. " And that even if she had been, I wouldn't have been able to hear her. She looked at me and asked, "Did you hear the voices, too?"
I looked at her, stunned.
She said, "Yeah, I hear voices call my name early in the morning and late at night from the holding pen. They also chatter about stuff I can't hear."
I knew from that moment that I wouldn't want to venture up there in the dark alone again.
About a month after this happened, the other job I had helping my uncle at his repair shop got busy, and I couldn't feed calves as often. My parents hired a good friend of mine that I knew since elementary school to help.
One night after work, my mom told me about what happened to my friend as he fed the calves up in the hay mow. Keep in mind, this guy lifts weights for fun, so he isn't small by any means nor is he easily frightened. He also never heard my story about what I heard up there in the mow.
She told me that as he fed the calves, a woman's voice came from above the hay and screamed at him, "GET OUT NOW! YOU DON'T BELONG HERE!"
He sprinted to the milking parlor and asked my mom if she was playing a prank on him. She told him no, that she was just milking cows.
I don't believe it to be coincidence that similar things happened to us both. What I do know is that the whole property has an air to it like this, where you never really feel alone.