Barn Razing

We called it the garage, but it really was more of a prototype for the modern machine building. You know the place on today’s farms where all the tractors and equipment are stored. This building was about 50 years old, and instead of being made out of steel, it was constructed out of red oak. But neglect of the roof over the last 15 years caused structural damage, and the building was starting to sag. It needed to come down.

Thursday, my brother-in-law Ernie drove up from Tennessee and he, my father and I spent the afternoon emptying the building of its 30+ years accumulation of stuff. The man who is buying the property has also been helping. At one point when Dad and Ernie when to eat lunch, (I’d already eaten) the soon to be land owner, his friend, a young relative of his and I were loading a heavy half built farm wagon onto the scrap trailer. These men are all bigger than me and I was the old man; fifteen years older than the oldest of them. At one point two of them were trying to lift up the wagon in order for a portion of it would clear the floor of the trailer. They didn’t have much success. I was leaning on a long steel bar, panting. When they gave up, I took the bar wedged it into place and popped the wagon up to where it needed to be. The two big guys looked at me as if they had never seen a lever in action before. “Give me a lever and a place to stand.” We finished up the afternoon totally exhausted.

Friday we finished emptying the building, wrapped a cable around the upper joists on one side and pulled the building over with a minimal tug from Dad’s tractor. Ernie and I scrambled up on the now much lower roof peak and began stripping off the rusted tin roof. I took a hunk of skin out of one finger on a piece of tin that broke free unexpectedly, and I also fell three feet to the ground when a rotted roofing slat gave away. I fully expected to get a few more nicks, cuts and bruises than I did. We ended the day with all of the roofing material removed and carted away. We were again exhausted.

On Saturday we started taking down the roofing joists. Ernie and I worked on getting key structure points loose, and before long the entire roofing structure was lying flat on the ground. We spent the rest of the day dismantling the rest of the joists, and one side wall. Ernie and I worked very well together, anticipating eachothers working style and actions. We pounded loose the last part of that side wall in one last burst of energy. I had not been that exhausted in a very, very long time. It was just what my arthritis doctor ordered. My back muscles are tired, but I have no joint pain in my spine.

Ernie is heading back to Tennessee, and Dad and I will finish up what is left on the ground in the days to come.

The best part of this entire thing is that I got to spend time with family, working outside and drinking lemonade. So what if it was hard work.

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