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Driving through Loudoun County, Virginia I seen many sights like this - old farms, farmhouses - abandoned, sold off to developers, falling down. Waiting only to be bull-dozed by the developer or burnt down by the volunteer fire departments for practice. Sometimes, very rarely, the barn is saved by the developer to be used for a meeting center or the farm house--if it is elegant enough it is restored and sold.
If I can, when I can, I love to explore these old sites - see what remains, conjecture on who lived there, what their life was like, when did they leave. I wonder where they went, did they start a new farm, did they retire? Some of the farm cats had been left behind, box shelters had been left with blankets inside...but I saw no cats. I did find skeletons of animals I could not identify. Only evidence of deer, tracks of foxes (or coyotes), rabbits. Vultures, and maybe even owls, now roost in the barn.
Often the people leave scraps of their lives behind in the buildings - leaving clues about who they were, these people who once lived here. This barn still had some tools, the broken remains of an old Coca Cola sign, wooden crates waiting to be reused, scraps of harnesses waiting for repair. There were license plates from the 1970s used to patch holes in some of the walls, ropes decaying into thin threads left hanging on hooks.
This farm is surrounded by development, progress, and yet once it was progress. Once this farm was useful and productive. Once rural, Loudoun County is among the most rapidly growing jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, with recent census data showing that the county's population has surged to more than 300,000 in the past decade--a period also marked by controversy over development projects, overcrowded schools, congested roads and the rising costs of supporting a growing community.
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February 9th, 2013
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