Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Barn Raising: Part 2

We started the barn with a bucket of tar and some serious heavy lifting. Cathy Daughton and I moved most of the wood from the front driveway, up past the pasture and garden fences, over to the area in the woods that would be the horse barn for Jasper and Merlin. "Barn" is not the goal of the day though. Today was about setting corner posts, bracing them, and putting on a roof with rafters and scrap tin we found on the farm.

When the wood was delivered, in order of priority, we saw the magic of the day start to happen. Brett picked up the 16ft post as if it was a friend's golden retriever (some effort but not uncomfortable) and then dipped the end in the bucket of tar. The boys lit up at this act. I had to admit, it was impressive. You don't get to see lumberjacks hoist lumber every day, do you?

Once it was dipped in the tar, the younger Daughton boys took turns painting the bottom four feet of each main post a thick, black, sticky gobber. This tar wasn't pretty, but it did the job. A serious sealant between dirt, moisture, and rot on those in-ground pieces.

One at a time posts were tarred, set, and tempered into the ground with a thick, flat-bottomed piece of cherry cut down at last Antlerstock. Soon as all four were up the bracing pieces went up and suddenly the quadrant of totems turned into the ghost of a building.

We broke for a lunch down in the grove behind the barn. It is circled by tiki torches burning citronella oil and no bug dared bother our kabob grill. Pieces of stew meat marinated in balsamic dressing and peppercorns skewered with crisp onions, pepper, and squash sizzled as we drank lemonade. There would be an icecream break too, a little later. It was so hot, and the work so constant, the food felt more like fuel than a meal.

Here is where Holden, Cathy's 16-year-old son took on the world. He took that giant 6x6x16 beam and climbed up the stone wall and helped set it into place. Then he scrambled up top of the frame and helped nail in rafters one at a time until we now had an honest-to-summer building framed up. Neither Brett or I planned on having such a help from the kid and it was a blessing. He worked like a dog, up there in the sun on metal roofing, with only hand tools like a hammer and nail. The work between the two men became a dance. They'd throw nails and hammers to each other and never miss. By 5PM the entire plan for the day (posts, roof, and frame) was up and ready to protect two ponies from rain. It would be a few weeks before the fences, gate, siding, and water system was worked out, but it would be worked out.

I am so grateful for these people, and for the day. What started as an idea and a plank set of boards turned into a real, tangible, thing in just a few hours. I want to especially thank Brett for his tools, skill, and time. Right now the poor man is hiking through the Adirondacks looking for a lost Highlander breeding cow and has been consumed by this search for days. Good thoughts on finding her way back to your pasture, friend. Stranger things have happened on Midsummer's day.

Right now the structure is sitting at the end of the path in the woods. This Friday I plan on spending a lot of the day working on some fences and gates with the intern (more on him in a bit) and getting as much work done as possible. If you are free and want to help out, please email me! I can't pay you, but I can offer you some awesome kabobs and my sincere gratitude.

For more images and detailed photos of the day, visit Firecracker Farm's website and see the images posted by Cathy Daughton. That photo of us was taken by you son, Seth.


Blogger Amy said...

Damn if only I lived closer... you'd get sick of me- I'd be there every weekend knockin on your door and wanting to help (maybe just trade ya for some of that fresh goat cheese)! Awesome job they sure know some great people Jenna~

June 20, 2012 at 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Holden the son who's into stilt walking?

Uh oh, maybe that was another mom at the wool workshop talking about a stilt-walking teen.

Either way it sounds like a wonderful day on many levels.

June 20, 2012 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger candisrrt said...

I am so impressed!!! Looks just great!!! What a great community.

June 21, 2012 at 3:04 PM  

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