Lock the gate

The gate to which this latch is attached provides direct access to the undercroft of the barn. Although there is another gate between this area and the open pasture, this has always been the gate which had to be shut. I’m sure our kids have recurring nightmares of me asking … Are you absolutely sure you locked the gate? Although there are many gates around the farm, this particular question concerned only one gate – this one – and they knew it. I obsess about this gate, even though I know that no animal has ever left the barn through it (unauthorized, that is).

The reason I posted this photo is because the impression made by the pendulum-like motion of the dangling latch has always fascinated me. How many gate openings were required to produce the groove? Let’s see if we can’t estimate …  we’ve been on the farm for 17 years (we installed the latch, new, when we arrived) … we’ll call that 6000 days. I would guess that this latch is opened, on average, 20 times per day (10 trips into the barn and 10 trips back out) … that’s 120,000 openings. The latch swings back and forth across the groove perhaps three times each time it is dropped – that’s 360,000 passes. The groove is about an inch deep. Let’s go metric … 2.5 cm (that’s 25,000 microns). So, each pass has removed a layer of wood just about 7/100 of a micron thick. Why do I enjoy doing calculations such as this?

To end on a more contemplative note … what stories might the latch tell if it could talk? It could recount anecdotes about shearing sheep, milking cows and goats, treating all kinds of animals, and sending some off to other farms – our local livestock markets – or to slaughter.  It could tell of disappointments, outright disasters, and losses, as well as successes, joys, accomplishments, and lessons learned.

6 thoughts on “Lock the gate

    • Hey Mitzi – thanks much for taking the time to comment. Each and every one is very much appreciated. They allow me to keep tabs on the pulse of folks who follow. Also … I want you to know that writing you and Josh are on my list of things to do! Since our last communication, I’ve been meaning to write – I promise, I will. Don’t know when … but I will. I want to catch you up so you’re officially the Smith-loop. Will get to it … next rainy day! Say Hi to Josh.

      We attended a retirement get-together for Ken Thompson last evening. A guy named Steve Seiler will be taking his place – time marches on!


  1. I have a soft spot for that latch. I always saw it as having a face … the screw for the eye, the pointy bit as the nose and the latch as a sort of jaw. I would always turn back to make sure the jaw had closed properly!

  2. By the way: the colors and composition of this photo are beautiful. Sarah thinks, and I agree, you should have your photos and their accompanying story on display in a gallery.

    • Robb … thanks so much for the comment and the kind words. Most times I feel that pressing ‘enter’ represents the end of the blog experience – for me at least. I’m glad to know that interested (and interesting) people really do click my stuff, read, and appreciate it. Responses such as yours represent my motivation and encouragement. Keep on clicking. Dave

      PS: Sarah sent us a recent photo of Audrey (the one of her at the kitchen table) – what a beauty. It’s on my list of things to do today to print a copy for our refridgerator … the place of honor for folks who are often on our minds.

  3. Stunning photo with a compelling story to be its companion. I was just remarking to Sarah about your photography and writing: its magnetic! Each post and picture draw me in. Thank you so much for sharing Dave!

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