Monday, March 2, 2009

The bar: Part 2, building...and a bad moment

John designed the barn meticulously, and I could tell he was excited, even though building it was also a huge chore with a tight timetable. He measured and cut everything perfectly, and we all looked forward to the today when he poured the footers and we could declare it well begun.

After all, well begun is half done, as they say!

Next came the sills. And by the time he got the studs up, it was beginning to look like a barn.

So much so that I let the goats out of the fenced area and dragged them into the 'barn'. I was terribly eager to catch a glimpse of our life to come!

But the goats just walked out again between the studs. They didn't have a glimpse of anything but freedom.

After almost two months he was still building the barn, what with a full-time job and other farm chores and grading papers and so on. And I think he was writing a book at this time too.

It was critical to get the roof on before winter storms hit. By November, winter was descending on us rapidly. The long Thanksgiving weekend was welcome, but Thanksgiving day dawned cold, gray, and seriously windy. Kay Ferguson had invited us for dinner, but John was reluctant to go because it meant building time lost. In the end he came with us, then hastened back to continue putting the roofing sheets up.

I got home with the children an hour or so after he was back at work. When we arrived, I saw him standing on the roof in the wind silhouetted against the gray sky, trying to wrestle a sheet of plywood into place. Repeatedly he had had to climb down the ladder, pick up a 4x8 sheet, and climb the ladder with it by leaning against the rungs and inching his feet upward. He then had to stand on the rafters above the open interior of the barn and position the plywood before hammering it in place. I was aghast at what I saw!

We could barely tolerate the bitter wind as we ran to the house, but he had been out in it for hours, determined to finish while he had daylight, gray though it was, to work in. When he came in, the job finished, and I handed him hot cocoa, he told me a story that has remained with me all these years:

As he reached the top of the ladder on one of his trips and balanced himself on a rafter with the sheet of roofing overhead, a fierce gust of wind whipped it and caused him to lose balance. He did the first thing that came to mind, which was to whirl around in the direction the plywood had been blown and slam it and himself down on the rafters, where he and the plywood were relatively out of the force of the wind. That saved his life.

My heart still beats fast when I think of it.

The barn was finished by the end of the weekend, including rolled roofing and shingles. We trimmed it with 1x2s, painted it barn-red, and moved the goats in. The dirt floor was not cold for them, and they sat there chewing their cuds in the most contented fashion. We moved the milkstand to the milk room, and before long undertook the routine of a goat dairy.

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