What is a mow door, or the mow mentioned so many times in your book? I am listening to the audio version and have tried looking up the word but am unable to find anything. LOVE your writting style and story. Thank you.

Hi, Rita, thanks for your question. The hay mow (rhymes with "cow", not "low") is the upper floor of a barn, normally used for storing grain, hay and straw. In a working dairy farm, the cattle are housed in stalls on the first floor and daily chores would involve someone climbing into the mow, usually via a ladder built into an inside wall, opening a hatch in the mow floor and throwing down bales to be cut open and distributed to the cattle.

A mow has to be loaded periodically, of course, so all barns are designed with some sort of large door on the upper floor. A contraption known as a bale elevator (a sort of motorized ramp) lifts bales from the ground or a wagon into the mow. The exact style and placement of the mow door varies widely, but in the case of the Sawtelle's barn, it is on the end wall facing the yard, hinged so that it opens outward and located directly above the double-doors on the ground-level entrance. When Edgar swings the mow door open, all that appears before him is open air.

As previously mentioned, the Sawtelle barn and land are modeled after my parents’ farm in central Wisconsin. I’m a suburbanite nowadays, but something about growing up around one particular barn (now torn down and long gone) has left a permanent impression on me. I find myself slowing down when I drive past farms, especially to check out the barn. On a drive through central Wisconsin last week, I found myself oogling barns and weaving all over the (thankfully unoccupied) country road I was on. Eventually I had to stop and take a few pictures just to get it out of my system.


Next Story