Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Where are the Amish people when we need 'em?"

The crane arrived around noon, as did waves of spectators, drawn by the promise of an old-fashioned barn raising and a home-cooked spread. Prior to the arrival of guests (many of whom were bringing kids) I had cordoned off a "spectator's box" a safe distance away from the crane and potentially falling timbers. We created a long serving table out of two saw horses and a couple of 10' 2 x 10s on which we spread out the eats: my mom's fried chicken, three-bean salad, corn muffins, seasoned potatoes, blueberry bread, apple and blueberry pies, and a mess of cookies. Oh, and five gallons of lemon aid, too. Enough was made for all our spectators as well as the entire work crew - in fact we had so much that we made dinner and snacks out of it, too. While we ate and watched the barn going up it was my father-in-law who commented: "Where are the Amish people when we need 'em?" Quote of the day, for sure.

The two "ranges" (long sides of the barn) had been assembled prior to today. All that was required was to attach them to the crane and stand them up. The 2 x 4s that you see nailed to the side of the end post are temporary supports which will be used to brace the frame once it is set into place.

This is a "range". The south range, to be precise. The "X"s are also temporary braces which will be removed once the frame is complete. A lot of people ask about the low wall made of 2 x 10s that runs around the perimeter of the foundation and upon which the frame is now standing. This is designed to give us the necessary headroom on the first floor, since the vertical dimensions of the original frame were not long enough to accomodate two full floors without this alteration. Where the main posts of the barn frame come in contact with this wall, there are solid posts which transfer the load directly to the foundation wall.

South range set and braced; north range ready to go.

Dad watches the progress over lunch break. It was nearly 24 years ago that he and mom were hosting a very similar kind of frame raising (for details, see the "Some Personal History" post from April 2006; you'll have to scroll down to the bottom of the page.) This generational dimension made this day real special for me and my family.

North range on the way up.

Bracing the north range.

Next came the bent girts. (Like a range, a bent is a section of a barn frame. The range is the long section, the bents are the short sections, of which there are four in our barn. The bent girt is one long timber that ties the two main end posts together. The diagonal pieces are called hurricane braces (among other things) and these will add structural stability to the frame.

The entire frame is held together with wooden pegs called trunnels. This is how timber frame structures have been assembled for milennia, and it is how ours was assembled today.

Almost quitting time.

Once the crew cleaned up it was time for cold beer (and some more fried chicken) and a chance to get up into the frame and inspect the day's work.

What a thrill to see this old barn standing again!

For the first time we could walk *into* our new home - a big change from looking at it on paper. One begins to imagine the dimensions of the spaces and mentally walk through them.

Today was one of those very special days that life seems to point to for so many years. When it was happening, it was almost surreal. It was *HAPPENING* - no longer "some day" but "now". And to have such spectacular weather, to have family and friends around, well, it was a good thing. We're no Amish, that's for sure. But I have to say that after today I have a deeper appreciation for the "goodness and rightness" of gatherings of family and friends, the sun burning the neck and cheeks, and the raising of an honest building expertly crafted by farmer's hands over a century and a half ago.

1 comment:

Jessica Kantrowitz said...


I wish I could have been there.