It began for me about 15 years ago when my sister started a wedding barn in Columbia County. I feel in love with these beautiful old structures that hold so much history…farmers prized possessions of the past long lost in the years it seems for most. You drive around and see them falling apart all over the surrounding counties and you imagine when they were standing tall, full of life and the promise of prosperity and productivity.
But a new age is upon us and new ventures…many old barns are in fact being re-purposed for a variety of uses and that is great news for all of us.
It was October 2011 and I was taking a drive to find the old Peter Bronck Museum when I passed this nearly invisible farm hiding under years and years of overgrowth. It was the old big red barn that caught my eye as I drove by. I quickly turned around and pulled in to take a closer look, intrigued by the design of the ‘underpass’ entrance of this barn that is build into the slope of hill.
Upon entering the driveway, to my surprise there was an old Saltbox farmhouse completely overtaken with trees and abandoned for what looked like many years…and there were several barns and equipment! Turns out the barns were still being used by the second owner where he was raising ‘Oreo’ cows there!
Nestled in the beautiful Hudson Valley Region of the Catskill Mountains. The old farmstead lays along the base of the Kalkberg Trail, a towering cliff of limestone that served as the pathway for the old Indian trading passage up to Albany.
I immediately saw the potential but had no idea who owned it or what was happening with it. Then I noticed the small ‘property for sale’ sign. Could it be true? I called immediately and found out it was in fact for sale. Something just felt right about this place and I knew I’d do whatever I could do bring this old place back to something beautiful.
Already feeling like it was mine, my mind was racing about what I would call it…and I soon got my answer. After leaving the farm I stopped into the museum and found in the gift shop little trinkets and cards, various little handmade gifts all with the ‘owls hoot’ naming of one sort or another. When asked why ‘owls hoot’ the answer was perfect, land of the owls hoot is the American Indian translation for Coxsackie, the little town on the Hudson River waterfront rich in history of the past. How fitting then that this old barn be call Owls Hoot Barn…and that is where this new beginning begins!