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Second Chance

Updated: Dec 5, 2019

Today's Bird & Bear Collective blog post comes from Alison Holland, also known as Barndigger. Our paths crossed this fall, when she visited the farm and we brainstormed opportunities to collaborate together. We just knew there was something we can and should do together...well...because I have a Barn and she is a Collector --- and the Barndigger Collection must certainly be featured in the Bird & Bear Collective Barn. Of course!

Though we initially connected around our love of barns, we have also found a sisterhood kinship in our post-corporate journey of living out our passions and seeking unique memories, experiences and treasures - old and new.

I loved what she shared in this blog post about how Barndigger came to be. Alison has an amazing eye and a gift for turning her finds into absolute works of art. Read on, follow her gorgeous feed@barndigger on Instagram, and stop by The Bird & Bear Collective barn sometime over these next few weeks to check out and take home some of her collection, or to purchase either her 2020 calendar or unique stationary set.

Thank you Alison and so grateful for sharing your Barndigger story, listening to mine and laughing and dreaming with me in the barn!

When I was little and even later as I got older, my Dad would take my two brothers and me on adventures. And when I say adventures I mean, a hike, a trek, a discovery. They didn't always include a pine-needle path, or rocky beach. It could often mean finding our way to an abandoned old shack or house. We’d find windows broken, evidence of birds and such, a life gone by. But it was exciting, daring, beautiful - and I loved it. It would be decades later, and after leaving the corporate world, that I would find myself in an abandoned old barn for my new job.

Proper Shoes

At the farm, they told me to ask for "Bob."  I had met him years before when I brought my kids to see the cows and buy the most incredible milk you'd ever taste. The milk operation had long since shut down, but evidence of a thriving dairy farm was everywhere. I found Bob and explained I was starting a new business, like that show "American Picker" - to buy and sell antiques. He wasn't too sure what to make of me so I explained my rules: "You can't want it, your family can't want it, and we agree on price." His only rule, frowning at my flipflops, was to wear proper shoes. So, I showed up the next day in proper shoes and with all the excitement of a little girl exploring abandoned shacks with my father. 

In the coming weeks and months, I'd uncover old turquoise shutters, rusted chicken feeders, paint-chipped doors, old pained windows, a cranberry harvester, milk jugs and the most beautiful old milk crates. 

Taking Pictures

After several months of digging in Bob's barns, my daughter suggested that I start an Instagram account just for Barndigger, the name of my business. Posting content meant photographing my picks, my adventures, my treasures. In doing that, I found something else, a real joy in photography. It would take a year to have the confidence to try to sell my photographs on their own as another part of my business. 

Rejected from Art School

I wanted to be an art major in college. It’s silly, and a million years ago, but being rejected into the program was a wound that never quite fully healed. The consolation was a spot in the college’s liberal arts program. I kept the rejection a secret from most everyone. In truth, I was embarrassed and devastated; it sent a message to me that I wasn't good enough. But I marched ahead, got over myself, graduated and began a career in the corporate world that would last for many years. It was challenging, fun and provided for my family, but something felt missing. So, I wore those corporate years like a shirt that didn’t quite fit but looked good enough and worked well enough. 

Second Chance

The opportunity to start over came once my kids graduated college. I tried out volunteer and other work, but antiques, the rustic kind you find in barns, always came back. I'm having the most fun as I've ever had in a job, and to be able to tap into a creative space I’ve left mostly dormant for so many years is like breathing again. You know you’ve heard it before, but trust me when I tell you, it’s never too late to start over, because everyone and everything, even an old milk crate, deserves a second chance. 


Alison Holland (Barndigger) lives in Medway. You can follower her on Instagram @barndigger or You can purchase her 2020 calendar and new stationary set at The Bird & Bear Collective, or by contacting She also displays her rustic vintage goods downstairs at Holliston Antiques and at Salvage Angel in the Winsmith Mills in Norwood. Alison has been barndigging since the spring of 2018.

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