The barn was where the cows were milked and where the horses were kept when they were not working. Horses on the Rastovich farm were not for riding, rather they pulled the plows and potato planters until the family got its first tractor, purchased by Bob Rastovich in 1946.
The first horse George Rastovich purchased for riding was at the request of Bob Rastovich. Every morning after milking, the boys would let the cows onto the open range to graze. In the evening, it was the boys' responsibility to round up the cows and bring them in. They had to do it on foot, and sometimes they couldn't find all of the cows and would return after dark. Bob asked George if they could get a horse to ride out to look for the cows.
George traded Pete Klobas a cow for an unbroken colt named Teddy. Someone told George to saddle up the horse and set sandbags atop the saddle to let Teddy get used to the weight on his back. This didn't work, so George decided to get on Teddy himself. Now, George had never ridden a horse before, and according to Helen, "he had himself a one-man rodeo." All the kids stood on the porch watching and screamed when the horse reared up and George fell off near the cistern.
Bob managed to eventually break Teddy and he and Mike took turns riding him around the farm. Bob would take Teddy out into the high desert to scrounge around garbage dumps for anything that could be salvaged or recycled into something useful - today, that practice is known as "upcycling."
Teddy would often put his ears down and chase anything that got in his way, most often the girls, chickens, calves, and Danny. One day, Danny had decided he'd had enough of rounding up the cows on foot. He was going to ride Teddy. First, he carefully closed all the gates in the corral so Teddy couldn't run off. Shaking like a leaf, he put a bridle on Teddy and led him to the barn. He cautiously saddled the horse and mounted him without incident. From that moment, Danny and Teddy got along just fine. While Teddy continued to chase Marie, Martha, and Helen, he never again chased Danny.
The barn also served as one of the hiding places for beer and wine during prohibition. Prohibition was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 - 1933. This made bootlegging a lucrative side job for George Rastovich, who was already skilled in making his own beer and wine. Men from town would come and push bills into a glass jar and beg George for a drink. The Rastovich Farm became the place for Yugoslav bachelors to hang out when not working at the mill.
As word spread, the sheriff came out to investigate, probing the ground with iron rods. The children were terrified. George hid his wine and beer all over his property - under the willow trees behind the outhouse, under a haystack near the chicken house, in the south field, and under the barn. Behind the barn, on the south side, you can still see a hole made from lava rocks. There used to be a lean-to on this part of the barn, and floorboards hid the hole.
The first time George's wine was found, the sheriff dumped it all onto the ground. The expense of the grapes and all the months of his work sunk into the desert dust. After the sheriff left, the cows and pigs drank the wine and ran around making funny noises for the rest of the day.
George only went to jail twice, and only for a couple of days each time. After the last time George got arrested, Anna insisted he destroy the still and stop his bootlegging. He smashed the still and buried it on the hill where Rob Rastovich, George's grandson, lives today. Years later, Danny found it and it remains on the property to this day.
If you look inside the barn, you can still see all the horse tack hanging up.
Scroll through the images of the barn, and you will see a windmill on top of the barn. Bob built that windmill and mounted it to the top of the barn. The windmill was connected to the generator of a car, which was connected to a radio. When the wind blew, the radio would play. The lights on top of the barn are headlights from an old Model T.
Scroll through the images below to see the barn throughout the last 100 years or click “next” under the main image of this page and head toward the potato planter at the corner of the pasture fence for the next stop on the tour.