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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Why are barns painted red?

Ever wonder why old barns are usually red in color? Red is (or, perhaps, was) a popular color for barns due not to its color shade but for its usefulness.

Many years ago, choices for paints, sealers and other building materials did not exist. Farmers had to be resourceful in finding or making a paint that would protect and seal the wood on their barns. Hundreds of years ago, many farmers would seal their barns with linseed oil, which is an orange-colored oil derived from the seeds of the flax plant. To this oil, they would add a variety of things, most often milk and lime, but also ferrous oxide, or rust. Rust was plentiful on farms and because it killed fungi and mosses that might grow on barns, was very effective as a sealant. It turned the mixture red in color.

When paint became more available, many people chose red paint for their barns in honor of tradition.

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1 Fun Farm Facts … Why are barns red? | Triangle C Beef { 08.04.14 at 10:00 am }

[…] of the first substances used as a sealant consisted of a mixture of linseed oil, an orange-colored oil derived from the seeds of the flax plant, milk, lime and […]

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.