Why are Barns in Louisiana Painted Red? The Explanation May Surprise You
Drive around rural Louisiana and it won't take you long to spot some red barns. But one consideration you may have never made is, "Why are barns painted red in the first place?". As it turns out, there is a pretty good explanation as to why barns in Louisiana (and around the world) are painted red.
Louisiana's Large Agriculture Industry Lends to Plethora of Red Barns
Agriculture is a massive industry in the state of Louisiana. In fact, according to agdaily.com, agriculture had an $11.7 billion impact on Louisiana's economy in 2019. With over 27,000 farms across 8 million acres, it won't take you long to find a red barn in Louisiana.
One Louisiana farmer, who had his own 80 acre farm before it was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, made it a mission back in 2009 to bring red barns to children everywhere. See more about that mission here.
While I'm not exactly sure where the 'Red Barn Tour' stands today, it seemed like a good enough idea. But anyway, I digress.
Barns are red
This fact has reigned true in my head since my childhood growing up in Louisiana. In my mind, every barn in 'The Boot', and across the world for that matter, was painted red. I never questioned it; that is, of course, until I found out the actual reason why barns are painted red.
Maybe I never questioned it because barns being painted red was such an absolute fact in my mind, I may have thought it was some sort of requirement. I know nothing about farming or owning a barn, so to all of the farmers out there - please excuse my ignorance.
If you're someone who might think that barns are painted red as a tradition, then you would technically be right. But, all traditions begin somewhere and the initial reason why barns are painted red may be a surprise to you.
Why are barns painted red?
Don't worry, I verified the facts in the below video on farmersalmanac.com and it turns out that this Instagram user is absolutely right.
Apparently, there are some theories out there that say barns are painted red as a way to allow cows to find their way home. As cute as that theory sounds, this Instagram user says that the theory does not quite add up because cattle are colorblind to red.
The most legitimate reason coming from this Instagram user is that early New England farmers couldn't afford paint, but they still needed to protect their wooden barns from the elements. A homemade concoction was formulated to replace the expensive paint and was mostly made up of items like linseed oil, lime, milk, and one special ingredient...
Yes, it was rust that old farmers apparently used in their homemade paint that would give barns their red-ish tint. The rust acted as a great sealant for the wooden barns and, according to the below video, even after paint became more widely available, farmers continued to go with red for their barn's color. They wanted to keep the tradition alive!
Check out the full explanation from @hannahatthegardens on Instagram below.
According to the caption, some wealthy farm owners actually used blood to paint their barns. Unfortunately for the more grotesque readers, I won't be diving into the history of that practice today.
File this one under the 'things I didn't know' category.
Oh, and shoutout to all of the Louisiana farmers keeping the red-barn tradition alive!