Village News

To Build a Village – The Farmyard

  • Gary Dyck, Blog Coordinator
  • Executive Director, MHV
Mennonite Heritage Village animal barn and farmyard.

I love working at the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). The heritage buildings, the artefacts, the stories, the grounds and of course the people – I love it all. However, my career in history and culture began forty years ago as a child in a farmyard.

Every summer I would make the one and a half mile trek from our house to an abandoned early 1900’s historic farmyard in the middle of field. The first artefact I would see on the yard was a dilapidated 1930’s farm truck near the creek. MHV has two trucks just like it that have been perfectly restored. Next, I would walk up to the grand hip barn – looking up it made me dizzy. I loved the feeling of a barn coming alive before my eyes.

As I walked in, a barn owl would spook me and let me have the place to myself. I imagined all the animals in their stalls. Here and there, I picked up wooden artefacts and without a descriptive panel to help me I tried to figure out what they were used for. Gingerly, I climbed up the wood ladder that was missing another rung since my last visit and sit with my legs dangling out on the open side of the hayloft facing the sunset. My favourite childhood hangout, an abandoned farmyard, was my personal museum.

I also enjoyed wandering around in my grandfather’s interactive farmyard. I would spend half a day playing hide-and-go-seek in a hayloft with cousins, pet the majestic horses and chase silly chickens until the rooster chased silly me. Those days spent in a farmyard were always restorative for the children. It used to be that most children had farmyards as part of their up-bringing. Now most children have no experience of a traditional farmyard at all.

Recently, Penner Farm Services generously agreed to help refresh the Farmyard at MHV. The Animal Barn will once again shine a freshly painted brilliant red. Oxen are being prepared (for 2022) to join all the usual farm animals, and we plan to have a new straw bale maze on the grounds. Every summer, every child should know what it feels like to play in a traditional farmyard. Thank you, Penner Farm Services for helping MHV provide that experience to the next generation of children! The MHV Farmyard is always our most popular destination for young families.