I have lived most of my life in America's Dairyland. I can get you to a farm in almost any direction from my house in about five minutes. Last week, from our back yard and with the wind "just right," we could detect "fertilizer" being spread on a farm somewhere -- it smelled like it was right next door! There's even a small, working farm right across the road from where I work -- a hold-out from encroaching development -- and I often see cows in a little pasture there.
I've never lived on a farm. My Grandma B grew up on a farm -- her dad gave up the railroad business when she was three and moved his young family from Iowa to a farm in central Wisconsin. Grandpa B never lived on a farm, either, but his dad sure did. Grandma K was also raised on a central Wisconsin farm; she and Grandpa even tried their hand at farming for a very short time after they were married.
The only "close" relation I knew who actually lived on a farm was Grandma K's youngest sister and her husband -- Great Uncle Al & Aunt Loretta. Loretta was much younger than Grandma -- young enough to be the flower girl at Grandma's wedding -- so some of her kids are not much older than me, and some are even younger. It was always a special treat when we'd stop by Al & Loretta's farm on our way home from visiting my mom's sisters. As a little girl, I wasn't interested in outbuildings, but I did learn all about electric fences, bulls, barn kitties, and cow pies. Once you step in a fresh cow pie, you'll never do it again.
It's a weird word, too -- outbuildings. I was introduced to "outbuildings" (the noun) years ago when I set type (that's lingo -- it was actually done by computer, at a keyboard) for real estate and farm auction ads for the paper. It was only after learning what they were called that I actually began to notice outbuildings, even though I'd seen them almost every day of my life. They're everywhere! Some farms have only a few, some have a half-dozen or more. Sometimes they're all spread out or neatly arranged, other times they're willy-nilly or little tacked-in additions to each other. Some are big, some are small, some are well cared for, others quite neglected or downright dilapidated. They are machine sheds, pump houses, summer kitchens, outhouses, chicken coops and pig pens and stables. I suppose it's a fascination with romantic country living, an appreciation for history and architecture -- and curiosity about function -- that keeps me looking.